• Vincenzo Nibali at the Tour de France. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Vincenzo Nibali has answered criticism of his Tour de France performance after finishing 30th overall and well over an hour behind winner Chris Froome.
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28 Jul 2016 - 9:52 AM  UPDATED 28 Jul 2016 - 9:53 AM

Nibali (31) is one of only two active riders to have won all three Grand Tour's in a career (Alberto Contador is the other), with two Giro d'Italia's, a Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana to his name.

He went to the Tour as Astana's senior lieutenant for 25-year-old Fabio Aru after winning his second Giro and with the Rio 2016 Olympic Games a focus, but still faced criticism.

The erratic Aru did not perform as expected, finishing 13th overall at 20 minutes, and hopes were that the versatile Nibali would pick up the slack and deliver a stage victory for an Italian rider.

It never happened and the quick to accuse Italian media and fans pointed the finger of blame at the man from Messina, Sicily.

Performing at a high level at the Tour after winning the Giro is now recognised is an almost impossible task, something Nibali was quick to remind his critics, particularly with the Olympic road race on the far horizon.

Nibali slides out of contention in early uphill test
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) has cracked early in the Tour de France showing he doesn’t have the form that saw him take the overall title in 2014.

"I'm not a robot," Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Everyone always expects a lot from me, but I never said I was going for the (Tour) win.

"I want to emphasise that I experienced a fantastic first part of the season. I won the Tour of Oman in February, in March I rode strongly at the Tirreno-Adriatico (finishing 6th) and then won the Giro d'Italia.

"I've always stayed focused and did not enjoy a day off this winter so I would be in-form for this season.

"As I said, I'm only human. I always do my best and tried to win a stage.

"You just have to listen to your body and measure your efforts, especially if you have bigger goals later."

That goal is the 241.5km road race in and around Copacabana, a demanding course to which he is well suited to deliver a victory.

"It's not easy to win. But with the tough course and the national team (Italy) we have, we can do it well," Nibali said.

He will ride alongside Astana team-mates Aru and Diego Rosa and BMC riders Alessandro De Marchi and Damiano Caruso.

"When I look at my age, it's probably my last Olympics. I love the special atmosphere even though we are not there very long.

"The entire Italian team is motivated. We have a good chance. Let's hope we don't get heavily criticised if we don't win a medal."