Nibali all but confirms Tour title

Italy's Vincenzo Nibali wins Stage 18 of Tour de France to strengthen his lead at the top with three stages left.

    Nibali is in pole position to win the Tour [REUTERS]
    Nibali is in pole position to win the Tour [REUTERS]

    Vincenzo Nibali crushed everyone on the last mountain leg of the Tour de France, all but ensuring he will be crowned champion when the race ends in Paris in three days.

    On the last big climb of Stage 18, the Italian broke out of the peloton, chased down breakaway riders, and rode solo in front for the last eight kilometres uphill.

    Nibali, who captured his fourth stage of the Tour, stuck out his tongue, tapped his chest, and raised a fist skyward as he finished the 145.5km leg more than a minute ahead of Thibaut Pinot of France, who was second. Rafal Majka of Poland, in third, was another two seconds back.

    The remarkable effort by Nibali, who was on track to become the first Italian to win the Tour since Marco Pantani in 1998, essentially made the real race drama about who will join him on the podium on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday.

    While three stages left, Friday's is mostly flat and unlikely to allow a breakaway rider to gain time. The last real challenge will be Saturday's individual time trial, but Nibali's lead is so big - 7:10 ahead of Pinot and 7:23 ahead of France's Jean-Christophe Peraud - that it would take a disaster for him to lose the yellow jersey before Sunday.

    SOURCE: AP


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