Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) has had a relatively quiet 2018 to date but when he did decide to make his presence felt, he mic dropped with a stunning victory at Milan San Remo.
That race was a showcase for his complete toolkit and craft as a rider - demonstrating patience, endurance, skill and cunning.
Since his first Critérium du Dauphiné in 2006, Nibali has returned every year that he hasn’t competed in the Giro d'Italia and placed 7th in 2014, which was also the year he won the Tour de France.
The same template will be used again this year as he prepares for a Tour which looks uniquely suited to his abilities.
While he states no ambitions other than to use the Dauphine as a racing tune-up after a two-week altitude training block in Tenerife, Nibali regards the race as key to his Tour objectives.
“I am convinced that the Dauphiné is the race best suited to gradually get ready for the Tour de France, which I have made my main objective this year," Nibali said. "I especially remember that it is always a difficult race with a lot of mountains and very good riders.”
“I am coming to ride a good race, but to win it will be very hard. I would like to get a good result on a few of the stages, but my main objective is to prepare for the Tour.
“It is very important. In today’s cycling, we don’t overlook anything when preparing for a race as prestigious as the Tour de France."
Nibali will arrive at the start line along with Bahrain-Merida team-mates Franco Pellizotti, Yukiya Arashiro, Ivan Garcia Cortina, Enrico Gasparotto, Luka Pibernik and Australia Heinrich Haussler.