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Cycling
Vincenzo Nibali wins Tirreno-Adriatico
Liquigas rider Vincenzo Nibali is eyeing up Tour de France after becoming third Italian to win Tirreno-Adriatico race.
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2012 19:57

Nibali celebrates on the podium alongside Chris Horner (L) and Roman Kreuziger (R) [GALLO/GETTY] 

Vincenzo Nibali became the third Italian to win the Tirreno-Adriatico in the past four years after finishing in front of American veteran Chris Horner in the final stage on Tuesday.

Nibali was ninth fastest in the 9.3-kilometer (5.8-mile) individual time trial, but the Liquigas rider finished the race in 29 hours, 38 minutes, 8 seconds to beat Horner by 14 seconds.

"I'm very happy, it was a great performance,'' Nibali said.

"A great time trial, even if there was a strong opposing wind which kept moving my front wheel. I was even forced to touch the brakes.

"Now, I'll focus on Saturday's Milano-San Remo. Then the Tour de France is in my plans, also because this year (Alberto) Contador won't be there and so I could do great things.''

Nibali, the 2010 Spanish Vuelta champion, was 6 seconds behind the 40-year-old Horner and 1 second back from Czech rider Roman Kreuziger at the start of the seventh stage.

"After what happened in the Tour last year and to be out of racing for so long, for me there was always a little bit of doubt how I would feel to come back... I'm coming out of this very satisfied"

American Chris Horner

It was Horner's first race since his season-ending crash during last year's Tour de France.

"I have no mixed feelings about this,'' Horner said.

"It's been a fantastic week. The team did a great team time trial to set me up to take the jersey, and I defended it for a few days. Tactically, I think we did a brilliant race. This is not a course that is ideal for me, but to stay on the podium is good for me.

"After what happened in the Tour last year and to be out of racing for so long, for me there was always a little bit of doubt how I would feel to come back. I held the jersey for three days in my first race in eight months. I'm coming out of this very satisfied. My form is fantastic and I look forward to the next stage races.''

Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, a four-time time trial world champion and 2008 Tirreno winner, won the stage in 10:36.

Teammate Daniele Bennati of Italy was 12 seconds behind in second place.

Many riders use the coast-to-coast race as a warmup for the Milan-San Remo, the season's opening single-day classic.

Four Milan-San Remo contenders withdrew from the Tirreno on Monday.

World champion Mark Cavendish, the 2009 San Remo winner, pulled out midway through the stage. Dropping out before the stage were last year's San Remo winner, Matthew Goss of Australia, Belgian standout Philippe Gilbert and Edvald Boasson Hagen, the Norwegian who won Friday's third stage.

Source:
AP
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