Nibali Wins Stage 20 of Giro d'Italia 2013
The Sicilian surged into the lead in the last three km to win the 210-km, medium mountain stage from Silandro to Tre Cime di Lavaredo in 5:27:41. Fabio Duarte (Colombia) finished second at 0:17, and Rigoberto Uran (Sky) took third at 0:19. Nibali extended his overall lead and will claim victory tomorrow after the 21st and last stage of the race.
Stage 19 was cancelled, and today's stage was rerouted because of snow in the Dolomite mountain passes (as much as three m of it). The Category 2 Passo Costalunga and Passo di San Pellegrino, as well as the Category 1 Passo Giau were eliminated from the course. The climb to the finish, which was initially planned to be a Category 1 ascent, had to be rerouted to a Category 2. The planned 203-km stage became a 210-km one.
The stage was ridden in the snow. After 25 km, Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack-Leopard), Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol), Pavel Brutt (Katusha), and Giairo Ermeti (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) got clear and led the field by more than eight minutes by 65 km. Euskaltel-Euskadi began to chase, and eventually Colombia and Vini Fantini-Selle Italia took charge at the front.
With 40 km to go, the break led the bunch by 3:30 on the unclassified Cimabanche. Cannondale went to the front and began to drive the peloton. With 35 km remaining, the break's advantage was down to three minutes.
Popovych dropped his companions with 23 km left, but Brutt and Hansen returned the favor shortly thereafter. Eventually, Brutt set out on his own. Behind, white jersey Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) suffered a mechanical and needed help from his team to rejoin the peloton.
Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) attempted to catch Brutt. Behind, Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) and Darwin Atapuma (Colombia) attacked. The Astana-led bunch caught Atapuma, but Pirazzi reached Weening. Later, Gianluca Brambilla (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Eros Capecchi (Movistar) bridged up to the move, while Pirazzi was dropped. With nine km remaining, the trio caught and dropped Brutt. Two km later, they led Weening and Pirazzi by 0:42 and the maglia rosa group by 1:10.
At the base of the day's final climb, Capecchi dropped his companions. With four km left, he led them by 0:13 and the maglia rosa group by 0:32.
With a little more than three km left, Nibali attacked. Gradually, all of the heads of state except Cadel Evans (BMC) joined him. The Australian suffered a mechanical that plagued him during the final climb and would cost him his runnerup spot overall.
"He (Evans) tried to resolve the technical issue, but the severe weather and the nature of the problem prevented him from doing so and it cost him valuable time," Team BMC Racing General Manager Jim Ochowicz explained after the stage. "We are still on the podium and tomorrow we need to control to make the race safe and then the goal is reached."
Nibali overtook Capecchi and accelerated again. With two km left, Evans, Rafal Majka (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff), and Duarte joined Betancur and Uran. The three Colombians set out after Nibali, but they need not have bothered. With one km left, the maglia rosa was 0:32 clear. As he reached the finish line, the Astana man thrust his right fist to the sky and raised his left hand. Duarte outsprinted Uran for second place.
Nibali displayed no want of confidence as he discussed today's mountain finish and the others. “We only really felt the snow today in the final five km," he said. "Thankfully, the road was pretty clean, and the stage turned into a real epic, with an uphill finish in thick snow fall. The manner of my win today leaves me with feelings of immense joy. And when have you ever seen riders finish the Giro d’Italia with no sun tan, and wearing arm and leg warmers? In the cold, you have to limit yourself, with or without climbs. Not to be pretentious, but in this Giro, I’ve had something more than my rivals on the all the uphill finishes. If there had been more climbing, I’d have managed the finishes the way I did today."
Tomorrow, the Giro will end with a flat, 197-km run from Riese Pio X to Brescia. The stage will start as a procession for Nibali, but it will end in a bunch sprint. Will Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) make it a clean sweep of the sprint finishes, or will Elia Viviani (Cannondale) break through for a win? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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