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May 30, 2017

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Tour leader Nibali considers Giro-Tour double next year

TALLARD, France -- Vincenzo Nibali may still have a week to go before sewing up the Tour de France title, but already he is planning a double Grand Tour assault next year.

Should he arrive in Paris still in yellow, and seemingly only a crash or unexpected crisis can stop him doing that, the Italian would become only the sixth person to win all three Grand Tours.

He won the Vuelta a Espana in 2010 and the Giro d'Italia last year.

Next year, though, he may well try to become the first person since compatriot Marco Pantani in 1998 to win both the Giro and Tour in the same year.

Having won the three previous uphill finishes, Nibali was beaten into second at Saturday's summit in Risoul by Poland's Rafal Majka.

The Tinkoff-Saxo rider came sixth at May's Giro and although he hasn't been riding for an overall position — he's 58th at 1hr 48 minutes 40 seconds — as he came to the Tour to work for team leader Alberto Contador, who crashed out, his example has inspired Nibali.

"Seeing how Majka is going, this makes me think it's possible to do both," said the Astana team leader.

"In the past I did both when I was very young (aged 23 in 2008 he was 11th at the Giro and 20th in the Tour).

"Now I have more physical maturity so the objective next year could be to go for success at the Giro and the Tour.

"I'll have to see, and speak to the team, so let's first think of finishing this season and when that's the case, like every year we'll start from zero and come up with new objectives.

"But it's not impossible that next year I'll go to the Giro and the Tour."

Nibali put more time into his overall rivals on Saturday's 14th stage and now sits 4 minutes 37 seconds ahead of 34-year-old Spaniard Alejandro Valverde.

He has yet to lose time to any of his rivals on any stage and has gained every time the stage finishes have gone up.

His dominance is perhaps in part due to reigning champion Chris Froome and two-time former winner Contador both crashing out of the race.

The owner of Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo team, Russian millionaire Oleg Tinkov, said the Spaniard would be in the leader's yellow jersey if he was still in the race.

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