Vincenzo Nibali of Astana is poised to win the Giro d’Italia for the second time after a battle royale on today’s 20th and penultimate stage, won by Katusha’s Rein Taaramae in Sant’Anna di Vinadio. Barrring mishap, tomorrow’s sprinter friendly finale in Turin will see Nibali triumph in a Grand Tour for a fourth time.
24 hours earlier, he had stormed to a convincing solo win at Risoul to put himself right back in contention, moving second overall 44 seconds behind Orica-GreenEdge’s Esteban Chaves, with the previous leader, Steven Kruijswijk of LottoNL-Jumbo dropping to third.
On today’s 134km stage from the French town of Guillestre, Nibali made his move at the 15 kilometre to go mark on the Category 1 climb of the Colle della Lombarda, just after team mate Michele Scarponi had put another strong ride in to test the Sicilian’s rivals.
Only Chaves and Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde were able to respond among the other six men in the group, but neither was able to get back on his wheel when he attacked for a second time.
They were later joined in their pursuit of Nibali by Cannondale’s Rigoberto Uran, who had promised to help his friend and fellow Colombian, but it already seemed a lost cause.
But with Astana’s Tanil Kangert dropping back from the break, Nibali too had assistance, his advantage growing until, by the top of the climb 10km out, he was virtual leader on the road though Chaves desperately battled in vain to hang onto the maglia rosa.
His parents were waiting at the finish, disappointment etched on their faces, Nibali, who has a 52 second lead over Chaves with Valverde another 25 seconds back in third place, seeking them out to offer his commiseration after crossing the line.
Stage winner Taaramae had attacked fellow breakaway riders Giovanni Visconti of Movistar, Cannondale’s Joe Dombrowski and BMC Racing’s Darwin Atapuma on the Colle della Lombarda, building time on the subsequent descent and shorter, final climb to the summit to take the second Grand Tour stage of his career.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.