Nibali holds pink but warns the Giro is long and riders can always have a bad day
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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Nibali holds pink but warns the Giro is long and riders can always have a bad day

by Shane Stokes at 3:16 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Italian believes Wiggins and Hesjedal still a threat as he retains Maglia Rosa after a battle in the rain

Vincenzo NibaliHaving successfully defended the Maglia Rosa after his first day in the pink jersey, Vincenzo Nibali maintains his solid advantage over the other general classification contenders in the Giro d’Italia. The Astana rider is out front as the race heads towards the big mountains but, despite two of his rivals losing time in recent days, he has said it is far too early to rule anyone out and to take things for granted.

“Wiggins and Hesjedal have lost time, but they are still among my main rivals, along with Evans and Scarponi,” he insisted after today’s stage. “The Giro is long, we all know that, and you can always have a bad day. Yesterday, Wiggins was very strong, and very close to winning, despite his mechanical problems.”

Hesjedal cracked towards the end of today’s nine stage of the race and conceded over a minute to Nibali and his other rivals. Some have said that this spells an end to his chances of taking a second successive Giro title but Nibali doesn’t see it that way.

His reasoning is that anyone can have a bad day, including himself, and so the cards of the GC contenders could continuously be reshuffled over the next two weeks.

Today’s stage was a tough one for his team, in that it had to try to control an aggressive peloton on tough terrain. Nibali saw many of his fellow Astana riders slip back before the finish but had the consolation of knowing that Tanel Kangert was still present and was riding strongly in his service.

“The team was always together today. The final part of the stage was probably the most delicate, when your strength, and that of your team-mates, is a bit drained,” he said. “But Tanel Kangert was always with me, and he was so strong that I had to ask him to hold back a bit in the closing kilometres.”

GC contender Wiggins finished in the same group as Nibali, thus retaining his fourth place overall. That was looking dicey for a while, though, with the Briton being dropped during the stage and having to fight hard to get back on.

Nibali made clear that Astana didn’t seek to take profit from the situation.

“We were working hard and riding fast in the downhill sections, but my team-mate Gruzdev fell, thankfully without serious consequences,” he said. “My team car was at the back of the caravan, so I didn’t know Wiggins was behind until Vini Fantini, BMC and Garmin started to pull.”

He now heads into the race’s first rest day with a solid 29 second lead over Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), one minute 15 head of Robert Gesink (Blanco Pro Cycling) and a further second up on Wiggins. Everything is going to plan thus far but he's adamant that there's no room for complacency.

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