Giro d’Italia: Vincenzo Nibali tightens his grip with stage 18 time trial victory
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Giro d’Italia: Vincenzo Nibali tightens his grip with stage 18 time trial victory

by Ben Atkins at 11:39 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results
 
Astana rider now four minutes clear after Cadel Evans suffers a bad day

vincenzo nibaliVincenzo Nibali (Astana) tightened his grip on the Maglia Rosa of the 2013 Giro d’Italia with a dominant victory in the mountain time trial, between Mori and Polsa. The Sicilian, starting the stage last, completed the uphill, 20.6km course in a time of 44 minutes and 29 seconds, almost catching second overall Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) for three minutes in the process.

Nibali’s time was good enough to go 58 seconds quicker than the previous best of 45 minutes 27 seconds, set more than half an hour earlier by Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), but the former Olympic champion managed to hold onto second place. Third place was taken by Damiano Caruso (Cannondale), who had finished in 45 minutes and 49 seconds, set just ten minutes before Sánchez crossed the line to beat it.

“My tyre pressure was very high, so I had to be very careful on the corners,” said Nibali of the wet course. “I could feel it slipping on the corners.

“First I have to keep the advantage I have,” he continued. “With the advantage I gained today, I can defend it better with the team. Then there’s the weather. It remains a mystery. Even today, the stage started in sunshine and ended in the rain.”

Nibali’s stage victory, and with Evans finishing in a disappointing 25th place, 2’36” behind the Maglia Rosa, meant that the Italian increased his lead in the general classification to 4’02” as the race headed into two tough mountain stages. Evans’ second place was now under threat from Rigoberto Urán (Team Sky), whose time of 45’55” brought him to within ten seconds of the Australian.

“Cadel has been well hidden in the group for a few days, so I didn’t know what his condition was,” Nibali said. “Today, I feared he might do a better ride, but he was my reference point in today’s stage, so when I saw him ahead of me in the final kilometres, I pushed even harder.”

A good time from Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), who lost just 1’21” to Nibali and finished fourth on the stage, meant that the 2011 Giro champion was now also threatening the podium, but was now 5’14” behind the Maglia Rosa.

“Today I’ve taken another major step towards winning the Giro,” said Nibali. “I hope the weather remains good. Whether or not we can ride the mountains stages as planned, changes little. I ‘m in good shape anyway. If the stages are taken out, with the team, we can control the race better. My shape is what it is. I’ve demonstrated that again today. So I’m relaxed.

“This Giro has been good to Italy, and good for the South of Italy, with Visconti’s stage wins,” Nibali added. “People are more and more passionate about cycling. Over the last three stages, the crowds have been very big. Even today, despite the rain, there were plenty of people at the roadside. Perhaps this Giro has relaunched Italian cycling. That’s what we all wanted. I think we’re on the right road.”

Fast times in the sunshine; even faster in the rain

Rafael Andriato (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) was the first rider to start the predominantly uphil course, but he was not the first to finish. The Italian was caught by second rider off, Miguel Minguez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), who posted a time of 48’55” as he crossed the line. Just over ten minutes later, however, Steve Cummings (BMC Racing) finished in 47’08”, almost two minutes faster than Minguez with a time that was to stand for some time.

Eros Capecchi (Movistar) was a second slower than Cummings at the 9.5km point in Brentonico, while Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) went seven seconds quicker than Cummings with 22’07”. Capecchi went faster on the second half of the course, however, and finished in 46’55” to finally push the British rider off the top spot after more than an hour.

Pauwels was unable to sustain his own pace in the second half of the course, and slipped to provisional third at the finish with 47’50”. Italian time trial champion Dario Cataldo (Team Sky) then went through Brentonico in quicker than Pauwels had been, and crossed the line in a time of 46’10” to take the lead.

Cataldo was not to be at the top for long, however, as Stef Clement (Blanco) finished in 46’05” just a few minutes later to depose the Italian champion.

Fabio Duarte (Colombia) and Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) both went close to Clement’s time, but Caruso was the first to beat it as he crossed the line in 45’49”. Scarponi meanwhile, went through the 9.5km point in 21 minutes, setting the fastest time at almost half way.

With Caruso having been in the hot seat for just over ten minutes, Sánchez crossed the line in 45’27”, with a time that looked like it might well be the winner as it began to rain more heavily.

Rigoberto Urán (Team Sky) was 48 seconds behind Scarponi at the first checkpoint, and seemingly having a bad day, then Evans went through even further behind, in 22 minutes, to lose a whole minute to the Lampre-Merida rider.

Live GPS timing on the course showed that Nibali was almost a minute and a half quicker than Evans and, sure enough, the Maglia Rosa blasted through the 9.4km point in 20’32”.

At the finish the tight battle for the white young riders’ jersey was being played out as Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) crossed the line in 45’54”, while incumbent Carlos Betancur (AG2R La Mondiale) finished in 46’01” soon afterwards. The seven seconds that Betancur conceded to Majka meant that the jersey passed back over to the Polish rider, who now led the classification by two.

Scarponi finished in 45’50”, having slipped away from Sánchez’ time, while Urán posted 45’55” shortly afterwards, having made up all but five of the seconds he had conceded to Scarponi at half way.

Nibali almost had Evans in sight in the final kilometre as the Australian struggled on the steep slopes, but Evans managed hold off the Maglia Rosa to finish in a highly disappointing 47’05” to go into provisional 24th.

The Australian was about to slip down another place though as, just 24 seconds later Nibali punched the air as he crossed the line in 44’29”.

Result stage 18
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Team Astana, 20.6km in 44’29”
2. Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi @ 58s
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling @ 1’20”
4. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida @ 1’21”
5. Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 1’25”
6. Rigoberto Urán (Col) Team Sky @ 1’26”
7. Carlos Betancur (Col) AG2R La Mondiale @ 1’32”
8. Stef Clement (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling @ 1’36”
9. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Team Sky @ 1’41”
10. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia @ 1’52”

Standings after stage 18
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Team Astana
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team @ 4’02”
3. Rigoberto Urán (Col) @ 4’12”
4. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida @ 5’14”
5. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida @ 6’09”
6. Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 6’45”
7. Carlos Betancur (Col) AG2R La Mondiale @ 6’47”
8. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia @ 7’30”
9. Beñat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team @ 8’36”
10. Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi @ 9’34”

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