Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Tour leader Nibali dominates Stage 13 in Alps

Associated Press Updated: July 18, 2014 at 1:23 pm

CHAMROUSSE, France (AP) — Stamping his dominance in the mountains and on the race overall, Vincenzo Nibali won Stage 13 of the Tour de France in the Alps on Friday up the hardest climb so far.

The Italian race leader collected his third Tour stage win by overtaking two other breakaway riders at the end of a grueling 197.5-kilometer (122-mile) trek from Saint-Etienne to Chamrousse ski station.

With eight stages to the finish, Nibali's yellow jersey looks an ever more permanent part of his wardrobe. Since the race began, he has held the overall lead for all but two stages — winning three of the hardest climbing legs of the race this year.

It's looking increasingly likely that only a riding disaster will strip him of it.

The first of two days in the snow-capped mountains lived up to its billing as the daunting final ascent of 18 kilometers (12 miles) with an average 7.3 percent gradient shook up the overall standings.

The main casualty was Richie Porte. The Australian, who became Team Sky leader after 2013 champion Chris Froome crashed out in Stage 5, had begun second to Nibali overall but lost time on the final climb and finished nearly 9 minutes off the pace.

Nibali, who has been calm and savvy in this race, crossed the line alone and thrust his hands in the air after finishing 10 seconds ahead of Poland's Rafal Majka in second and Germany's Leopold Konig in third, one second further back. The trailing two were far back in the overall standings, and not in contention to win the three-week race.

More important to Nibali was increasing the gap on his rivals for victory on the Champs-Elysees on July 27. Spain's Alejandro Valverde fared relatively well by placing fourth — 50 seconds behind Nibali — and taking second overall from Porte. But he's now 3 1/2 minutes behind overall.

"Today, I essentially wanted to gain some seconds," Nibali said. "And by doing that, I won."

Porte's troubles also meant others climbed in the standings: France's Romain Bardet, countryman Thibaut Pinot, and American Tejay van Garderen each moved up a spot to third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

The stage was scorching, with temperatures well over 30 degrees Celsius (86 F) — with the black tar on the recently resurfaced road to Chamrousse melting. Big crowds lined the route up to the finish, including fans dressed up as superheroes and one as a scantily-clad Borat — a wink to the Sacha Baron Cohen film character.

As riders embarked on the final climb, the pack was mostly together and Valverde's Movistar team was pushing the pace. But when it hit the steepest part, Porte struggled and dropped off the back and Nibali briefly turned his head to look. Valverde attacked a short while later, but Nibali and the others reeled him in.

After Konig, and then Malka raced ahead, the Italian leader struck — jumping out of his saddle and pedaling while standing in the upright riding position known in French as "la danseuse," or the dancer.

Nibali appeared to be taking a risk, notably that his hard effort to distance his rivals could come back to haunt him. By his own admission a day earlier, he said that he feared the second Alpine day more out of concern that his legs may be worn out if he pushed too hard.

Still, some of his rivals seem to be accepting that Nibali may win.

"Vincenzo is the strongest rider in the race, but after him, there is a place to take," Bardet said.

Saturday's 177-kilometer (110-mile) stage takes riders over three tough climbs from Grenoble to Risoul — including the Izoard pass that is one of the hardest under cycling's ranking system.

Comment Policy

Our commenting system has changed. Please register or login with your gazette.com account to comment on a story. Click here for information.

You've reached 4 FREE premium stories this month

Simply register to continue. It's free.

Register Learn more

Already registered? Click here to login.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
SEP
19
SEP
20
SEP
21
SEP
22
SEP
23
SEP
24
SEP
25
SEP
26
SEP
27
SEP
28
SEP
29
SEP
30
OCT
1
OCT
2
Advertisement