Nibali was touted as one of the pre-race favourites for the mountainous world championships, but Nibali himself poured cold water on those claims, saying he lacked the form in an interview with Italian media.
“I feel good but I’m not super,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “My endurance is good after the Vuelta but I lack that acceleration that can make the difference. I might find it in the days before the worlds or perhaps after the end of the season. I’m not at 100 per cent, I think I’m at 90 per cent or even only 80 per cent.”
Nibali had been recovering from a fractured vertebrae he suffered during the Tour de France. AScending the Alpe D'Huez, a spectator's camera strap caught his handlebars, sending Nibali tumbling to the ground.
He underwent percutaneous vertebroplasty surgery in Milan on July 31 to stabilise his fractured vertebrae and speed up his recovery but like fellow crash victim Australian Richie Porte (BMC Racing), he struggled to be competitive at the Vuelta a Espana.
Nibali nominated teammate Gianni Moscon for the role of protected rider, with the 24-year-old Team Sky rider coming off hot form at the Italian one-day classics.
“He’s a fundamental part of the national team, the results say Moscon’s ready for an important role," said Nibali. "Yes, even as team leader.”
Fabio Aru was considered another who might contend for the win in Austria, and again another rider who didn't come out of the Vuelta with great form. He had a freshen up before riding the Memorial Marco Pantani on the weekend, finishing 54th, second-last of the riders to make it to the finish.
"Unfortunately, my condition is not where I'd like it to be and, in all likelihood, would not allow me to honour my call up," Aru explained in a message posted on social media.
"It's a difficult choice but I think it is right to leave room for those who can count on a better condition right now."
Italian mens road race squad: Gianluca Brambilla, Damiano Caruso, Dario Cataldo, Alessandro De Marchi, Gianni Moscon, Vincenzo Nibali, Franco Pellizotti, Domenico Pozzovivo.