Nibali on brink of Giro triumph

In the wake of more doping, Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali claims second stage victory of race to move 4:43 ahead of pack

    Nibali on brink of Giro triumph
    Nibali overcame blizzard conditions to put himself over four minutes ahead heading into final day of Giro [AP]

    Vincenzo Nibali virtually wrapped up the Giro d'Italia title with a dominating solo performance to win the penultimate stage Saturday, leaving behind his rivals under a blizzard of snow on the race's final climb.

    Nibali attacked with 3 kilometers to go on the steep ascent to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the three-week race's highest point at an altitude of 2,304 meters.

    On the final stages of the climb, the road was surrounded by huge banks of snow.

    It was Nibali's second stage victory of the race, having also won Thursday's mountain time trial.

    His performance came in stark contrast to the developments at the race on Friday, when the 19th stage was cancelled due to snow and it was announced that 2007 Giro winner Danilo Di Luca tested positive for EPO in a surprise check at his home before this year's race.

    "After what happened yesterday I wanted to show something"

    - Vincenzo Nibali

    "I wanted to leave a mark," Nibali said.

    "After what happened yesterday I wanted to show something."

    An Italian with the Astana team, Nibali clocked 5 hours, 27 minutes, 41 seconds over the 211-kilometer (131-mile) leg, which began in Silandro and passed through the renowned ski resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo.

    The 20th stage was originally supposed to include a few more climbs but the route was altered due to the adverse weather conditions and snow covering some roads.

    Colombian pair Fabio Duarte and Rigoberto Uran finished second and third, 17 and 19 seconds behind, respectively.

    Miles ahead

    Uran moved up from third to second overall, 4:43 behind Nibali. Cadel Evans, the 2011 Tour de France winner, dropped to third, 5:52 back. 

    Evans finished about 1 1/2 minutes behind Nibali in the stage, which was also characterised by sub-freezing temperatures.

     Nibali had to have hot tea poured over his hands to relieve the cold after crossing the line, so he could take off his wet gloves without pain.

    Along the final climb, Nibali had to push fans away who kept clinging to him.

    "I was worried one of them might slip," he said.

    Before the stage started, Dutch rider Robert Gesink, one of the pre-race favourites, withdrew from the race.

    The race ends on flat ground in Brescia on Sunday with a 197-kilometer (122-mile) stage starting in Riese Pio X.

    Nibali also took the red points jersey from Mark Cavendish, but the British sprinter can reclaim it by winning the final stage.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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