Nibali: 'I can handle a lead like this'

The first doping case of the Giro d'Italia comes to light as Navardauskas wins stage 11 and Nibali retains overall lead.

    Nibali: 'I can handle a lead like this'
    Navardauskas celebrates stage victory which he says was as important as wearing pink jersey in 2012 [EPA]

    Lithuanian rider Ramunas Navardauskas won the 11th stage of the Giro d'Italia with a solo breakaway Wednesday, and Vincenzo Nibali held on to the overall lead.

    Navardauskas, who rides for the Garmin-Sharp squad, finished in 4 hours, 23 minutes, 14 seconds over the 182-kilometer (113-mile) leg from Tarvisio to Vajont, which featured two category-2 climbs, including an uphill finish.

    Italian riders Daniel Oss and Stefano Pirazzi finished second and third, respectively. Oss crossed 1:08 behind and Pirazzi was 2:59 behind. 

    Navardauskas wore the leader's pink jersey briefly during last year's Giro when Garmin won a team time trial.

    "It's not the first time I've had to handle a lead like this. I won the 2010 Vuelta as a favourite"

    Vincenzo Nibali

    "The pink jersey was a beautiful surprise and I really enjoyed it but today's win is entirely different,'' Navardauskas said.

    "You can't compare them. Writing your name on the list of stage winners is just as great and more important, I think."

    Nibali, an Italian with Astana, maintained a 41-second lead over 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans as the top of the overall standings remained unchanged.

    "It's not the first time I've had to handle a lead like this. I won the 2010 Vuelta as a favourite,'' Nibali said.

    "The Giro still has a long way to go and I realise I've got to keep my feet on the ground but I'm definitely more aware of my abilities compared to then. The team worked great today, they set the pace the entire stage."

    Georges withdraws

    The stage was held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Vajont dam disaster, which killed nearly 2,000 people and devastated the area on October 9, 1963.

    Meanwhile, the race's first doping case came as the UCI notified French rider Sylvain Georges that he tested positive for a banned stimulant. 

    Georges's team withdrew him from the Giro ahead of stage 11.

    The international cycling federation says traces of the stimulant Heptaminol were found in a urine sample from the AG2R La Mondiale rider after Friday's seventh stage. Georges can request that a backup 'B' sample be tested.

    No provisional ban was given.

    Stage 12 on Thursday is a 134-kilometer (83-mile) leg from Longarone to Treviso that starts with a few hills before a long, flat finish. The race ends May 26 in Brescia.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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