Vincenzo Nibali’s Contract Saga

Monday, 7 May 2012

Nibali Liquigas

A short note to observe the contract position of Vincenzo Nibali. The rider known as “The Shark of Messina” has a contract with his Liquigas team that expires at the end of the year and he and his agent are busy trying to get the best deal by looking at other teams.

It is said both BMC and Astana are interested in Nibali, certainly the Kazakh team is very interested in hiring him. But for now the rules state a rider cannot sign a deal with another team.

2.15.120 For any change of team between two seasons, the transfer period extends from 1 August to 31 December… …A UCI ProTeam or licence applicant may only recruit riders during the transfer period. For the purposes of this article «recruit» shall be deemed to mean concluding a contract with a rider to ride for the UCI ProTeam or licence applicant’s team.

In short, if a team wants to sign a rider for 2013 then it can’t sign a deal until 1 August. But note the word “conclude”, there is nothing to stop discussions and even to enter into a “pre-contract”. So whilst a deal can’t be signed, everything else can be lined up, Nibali can have the contract in his pocket along with a working pen for the rest of the summer.

Right now Nibali is with Liquigas and in a press release issued by his team says he’s going nowhere and that everyone has until 1 August to sort things. Formally this is true but it is also the case Nibali has shaken hands on a deal with another team or even signed a document setting out all the terms and conditions of his employment with a new squad but which does not amount to the formal signing of an employment contract. In other words he is going but has yet to complete the final, formal step.

Alex Carera, a not so secret agent

We’ll see what happens with this rider. It’s not normal to see a rider’s contract played out in public like this but Nibali makes an interesting case as he’s a very valuable rider. This is thanks to his past performances, his current collection of points and above all his potential, both in terms of results and points. Arguably Italy’s leading stage race rider he is aged 27 and many years younger than the likes of Michele Scarponi and Ivan Basso.

Indeed Nibali is one of those riders with a guaranteed seat in the contractual game of musical chairs. The children’s game sees people dancing and sitting down. Nibali’s status as a top rider means he can have a seat on any team and his salary is so large that other riders, existing or potential recruits, will have to keep dancing until Nibali seals the deal.

Either way, the point of this note is to say rider cannot sign a deal but they can agree everything, including an agreement to sign the contract.

Conclusion
The rules say a rider can’t sign a contract with a new team until 1 August. This might be in breach of normal employment laws that let anyone change jobs when they want but that’s for another day. Right now note the signature is only the last step of the process, it is possible for a rider to have everything in place to sign a new deal but it is only inked in August; indeed it is in a team’s interest to keep hold of a rider if only in public for as long as possible. This applies to Nibali but also to many other names, especially the stars who can find teams queuing to sign them. The UCI rule and the “transfer” date of 1 August is merely a matter of paperwork.

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{ 9 comments }

Torben Putkonen May 7, 2012 at 1:53 pm

There are two contracts here that are interesting. One between UCI and the rider that says the rider can not sign a new contract before Aug 1. That part of the contract is void because the freedom of an individual can not be reduced with a contract.

The other contract is between UCI and the team that says the team can not sign a contract with a rider who has an existing contract before Aug 1. That contract is valid, because corporations do not have freedoms (thank not god but the sensibility of our leaders for that).

So, the interesting legal question about these contracts is not the one about limiting rider’s freedom to work but about the employer’s freedom to hire people.

Peloton Pundit May 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Interesting to remember that Team Sky tried to sign Nibali as their main GC rider when they launched in 2009. Deal was close to been done but Nibali backed out last minute. Doubt they would be after his signature now.

Roadie61 May 7, 2012 at 6:53 pm

It was only a matter of time before Nibali would be offered a big contract by a team with deep pockets.
It’s a shame for L-C, as Nibali had a niche (for a time) with Basso’s success yet aging and semi-struggling of late. I question the mentoring going on at Liquigas as Sagan also seems to need better mentoring. Perhaps the timing couldn’t be better for a transition.

At 27, Nibali is on the brink of magnificence as a GC rider, I believe. He needs the right atmosphere to support his already-strong confidence and palmares.

BMC and Astana are apparently courting him, but I also see Team SKY benefitting from his GC prowess, ready for a major launch. SKY is chalked full of talent, but when one really looks, they are lacking a 3-week rider who can win the TDF (sorry, Wiggo, 3rd at Vuelta was impressive but not the TDF)…uber-talented Wiggo brings so much to SKY but not the grand prize (too bad winning the Giro and/or the TDF carries so much weight these days, as great Classics riders are iconic).

EBH, aging Flecha, Froome, Henao at 24 (much time to prove his GT GC status), G. Thomas (need I list his achievements?) and Rigoberto Uran (25), who I’m still waiting on to prove his GT GC status!
All super talents in their specialties…Nibali would fit nicely in this well-run, highly respected team.

BMC: Superteam 2012, but when you use a magnifying glass and look more closely, they DO need a GT GC rider. No detraction from Tejay VG, but he has much time (at 23) to develop into a GT GC winner. He’s already proven his TT skills, climbing skills and stage race potential at this young age.

The rest of this super-team has an aging Evans, GC Classics Gilbert + more, Hushovd not a GC rider for GT’s, Phinney for TT’s and road/stage races, but too big to evolve into a GC climber, Santambrogio a super domestique and GVA sprinter and one-day classics. Nibali would make a nice fit, indeed!

Astana: J. Brajkovic has had a disappointing 2012 so far, yet his talents as a GT GC rider are right there at 27; Kreuziger at 25 has proven powerful significance, and this Giro could prove much more (or not), but he’s no GC lightweight for 3 weeks of the TDF, I don’t believe. I don’t see Nibali fitting in at Astana, though they could really benefit from his specialty.

So, money talks, but so does the right fit. Where Nibali lands will be exciting come August!

brian carless May 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm

i dont want him leaving the LG_C team, i think he is right @ home there, but in this day and age money talks. i dont think we would have fit in well @ bmc,maybe radioshack? i guess it does not matter u have to make ur self @ home and start working. i think he is weak and needs more strenghth, 2 giro podiums and a vuelta win not bad @ all, we will see how well he does in the TDF

Roadie61 May 8, 2012 at 12:38 am

I think Nibali would fit much better at BMC than Radioshack; 1. Who knows what will happen with this team next season? Low morale by several (or many?) riders with Bruyneel as manager, likely losing the Schlecks, Cancellara, Voigt retiring?, Fuglsang?, Gerdemann, Bennati, Monfort, Joost Posthuma, Wagner, Ben Hermans, Roulster, Bakelants, Didier and Giacomo Nizzolo (?)

Just guesses on my part, but these are the riders who show more loyalty to the Leopard-Trek-kinda riders and some of these riders could leave with the Schlecks and Cancellara, etc. As seasons come and go, it seems that many riders are opting for clean teams with ethical philosophies. At the same time, we still have those who don’t care to risk with PEDs.

Can’t see Nibali and Bruyneel synchronizing well at all. The team one signs with DOES matter –
it can make or break a rider’s mental strength, psyche and self-confidence. Just look at RSNT’s disastrous year so far, what does that tell you? Unrest isn’t good for any team.

Nibali is strong, you’ll see!

rhys May 8, 2012 at 2:22 am

I agree it would be a shame to see him leave Liquigas, but if he is to leave, it would be nice to see him go somewhere he could make a difference, like AG2R. Maybe they could win a few races and not have to play the numbers game for a license.
From Liquigas’ position, it would be worth them getting rid of Basso and keeping Nibali. I think Basso is past it and just doesn’t seem to have the fire, whereas Nibali warrants some time being spent on him helping him develop.

jimmyk May 8, 2012 at 3:33 am

from what innering has taught me it would be financally almost impossible for AG2r to pay the wage bill for someone like nibali

rhys May 8, 2012 at 4:16 am

I know. A man can dream though, right? It would be great if they picked up Cancellara and gave one or two people to his Classics campaigns too. Ah well.

Bundle May 8, 2012 at 11:31 am

My guess is that he will finally stay with Liquigas.

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