Giro d'Italia Stage 18: Nibali puts Evans to the sword in mountain time trial

Astana rider takes a huge step towards winning the maglia rosa on Sunday as he extends lead beyond 4 minutes

by Simon_MacMichael   May 23, 2013  

Giro 2013 Stage 18

Maglia rosa Vincenzo Nibali put in a towering performance to win the Stage 18 individual time trial from Mori to Polsa this afternoon and take a huge step towards winning the Giro d'Italia in Brescia on Sunday.

The Astana rider, last man out on the course as race leader, took the best part of 3 minutes out of his closest rival, BMC Racing's Cadel Evans, who could post only the 25th fastest time on today's 20.6km ascent to Polsa.

Nibali posted the fastest time, 58 seconds ahead ahead of second-placed Samuel Sanchez of Euskaltel-Euskadi, with Cannondale's Damiano Caruso third.

Nibali now leads the GC by 4 minutes and 2 seconds from Evans, who retains second place overall for now, although Team Sky's Rigoberto Uran now lies just 10 secodns behind the Australian.

Evans' struggles today means that perhaps surprisingly, Mark Cavendish remains at the top of the points classification with three stages left - the first two of those in the mountains, ahead of Sunday's sprint-friendly finale in Brescia.

The route of today’s stage was a steady climb, the gradient touching 10 per cent in just one short section a little shortly after a section of false flat through the town of Brentonico where the intermediate time check was taken, 9.4km after the start at the velodrome in Mori.

Caruso, 24th on GC this morning, had set the benchmark time of 45 minutes 49 seconds by the time the men challenging for the overall victory came out on the course, but that would be overhauled by Sanchez, expected to be among the main challengers when the race began in Naples nearly three weeks ago but who was in 15th position this morning.

The Spaniard's rewards for his efforts today are that he moves into the top 10.

Rain started to fall as the men occupying the podium positions this morning took to the course, first Uran, then Evans and finally Nibali, and got heavier as they headed up the mountain.

However, it’s likely to have had minimal influence on the final result – all three were on the ascent at the same time, and there was only the briefest of descents where Nibali could have used his skills going downhill in the wet to take any time.

Lampre-Merida’s Michele Scarponi, fourth overall this morning, put in what would be the second quickest intermediate time, betterd only by Nibali, and briefly threatened not only Sanchez’s stage leadership – in the end, he’d finish fourth, 1 second behind Caruso – but also Evans’ and Uran’s positions. As it was, Scarponi remains fourth, still more than a minute off the podium.

There was a change today in the leadership of the best young rider’s classification, now led by Saxo Tinkoff’s Rafal Mijkal by just 2 seconds from AG2R’s Carlos Betancur, having overhauled the Colombian’s 5 second advantage and posting the 5th fastest time of the day.

Stefano Pirazzi of Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox retains the mountains classification jersey with a lead of 34 points over Movistar’s Giovanni Visconti, despite missing his start time today, getting onto the course more than 5 minutes after his allotted slot.

While points were on offer – the ascent to Polsa was classified as a Category 2 climb – Pirazzi is unlikely to have challenged the overall contenders on today’s course, and with the blue jersey his focus, he is unlikely to be troubled by the time he lost on GC, with the clock ticking from the moment he was supposed to be out on the course.

There's a big mountain stage tomorrow that takes in the Gavia and the Stelvio ahead of a summit finish at Val Martello Martelltal, while Saturday's penultimate stage sees another mountaintop climax at the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, preceded by the Passo Giau.

With more than 4 minutes in hand over his rivals, the race is now Nibali's to lose.

Giro d'Italia Stage 18 result  
  
1  NIBALI Vincenzo      Astana Pro Team      44:29:00
2  SANCHEZ Samuel       Euskaltel - Euskadi     00:58
3  CARUSO Damiano       Cannondale Pro Cycling  01:20
4  SCARPONI Michele     Lampre - Merida         01:21
5  MAJKA Rafal          Team Saxo-Tinkoff       01:25
6  URAN Rigoberto       Sky Procycling          01:26
7  BETANCUR Carlos      AG2R La Mondiale        01:32
8  CLEMENT Stef         Blanco Pro Cycling      01:36
9  CATALDO Dario        Sky Procycling          01:41
10 DI LUCA Danilo       Vini Fantini            01:52
11 PETROV Evgeni        Team Saxo-Tinkoff       01:54
12 NIEMIEC Przemyslaw   Lampre - Merida         01:56
13 DUARTE Fabio         Team Colombia           01:59
14 KELDERMAN Wilco      Blanco Pro Cycling       ,,
15 POZZOVIVO Domenico   AG2R La Mondiale        02:11
16 PELLIZOTTI Franco    Androni - Venezuela     02:12
17 GASTAUER Ben         AG2R La Mondiale        02:14
18 MOUREY Francis       FDJ                     02:15
19 HERRADA Jose         Movistar Team           02:16
20 DANIELSON Thomas     Garmin - Sharp          02:21
  
Overall Standings after Stage 18  
  
1  NIBALI Vincenzo      Astana Pro Team      73:55:58
2  EVANS Cadel          BMC Racing Team         04:02
3  URAN Rigoberto       Sky Procycling          04:12
4  SCARPONI Michele     Lampre - Merida         05:14
5  NIEMIEC Przemyslaw   Lampre - Merida         06:09
6  MAJKA Rafal          Team Saxo-Tinkoff       06:45
7  BETANCUR Carlos      AG2R La Mondiale        06:47
8  SANTAMBROGIO Mauro   Vini Fantini            07:30
9  INTXAUSTI Benat      Movistar Team           08:36
10 SANCHEZ Samuel       Euskaltel - Euskadi     09:34

18 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Devil Game over ?

Sean

posted by seanieh66 [193 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 16:34

3 Likes

Fantastic! Go Nibbles!

posted by Karbon Kev [677 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 16:34

4 Likes

Nibali is in great form. I just wish he was having to break a sweat for this win. It would at least reduce my suspicions that he was doping. No vulnerability on a 3 week tour is too good to be true. I thought the back and forth between Rodriguez and Hejesdal last year was more authentic (but probably not untainted).

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1142 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 17:54

8 Likes

Colin Peyresourde wrote:
Nibali is in great form. I just wish he was having to break a sweat for this win. It would at least reduce my suspicions that he was doping. No vulnerability on a 3 week tour is too good to be true. I thought the back and forth between Rodriguez and Hejesdal last year was more authentic (but probably not untainted).

I hate to say it but I must confess it crossed my mind. Especially if he had some 'vino'

posted by Super Domestique [1600 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 18:40

5 Likes

He can afford to have an off day now...that will make it all authentic again. Plain Face

posted by Ad Hynkel [48 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 18:52

4 Likes

Nibali is at his best. 58 seconds in a 45 minute time trial isn't some huge EPO-fuelled trashing of the field. He looked good today and has been consistent and vigilant, chipping away for the whole race.

His two main rivals, along with others, got sick. Evans isn't in great form, and hadn't intended to peak for it. Possibly the rest may not up to/ready for challenging for the podium in a GT.

Also, just because he doesn't grimace and gurn like Cadel doesn't mean he isn't hurting.

All this is very much IMHO, of course. But just because Nibali is the best in this race doesn't mean he's doping any more than it means the others aren't. He has been at the sharp end for a while, has no obvious skeletons and looks like a demonstration of how you win a 3-week stage race.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1965 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 19:34

5 Likes

Colin Peyresourde wrote:
Nibali is in great form. I just wish he was having to break a sweat for this win. It would at least reduce my suspicions that he was doping. No vulnerability on a 3 week tour is too good to be true. I thought the back and forth between Rodriguez and Hejesdal last year was more authentic (but probably not untainted).

Agree too. After LA, I'm now always a bit suspicious whenever someone doesn't have a bad day in a 3 week race. Thinking

Pastaman

posted by pastaman [218 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 20:22

6 Likes

IMHO I think that the rest are doping too, to a greater or lesser extent. It's just if you show vulnerability it makes it more interesting to watch. It means there is a window to compete. It would just be great to have my suspicions erased, and I think it would be good to see riders fade and gain form.

But the issue is that they turn up and it's the same seamless demonstration of dominance from start to finish. Over the course of a multi-stage event your hematocrit drops and you become vulnerable to the vagaries of fatigue, weather, your immune system and whatever else.

Not to say Nibali would not come out on top without drugs, but it just seems to be too good to be true that he is suddenly a great time trialist and mountain climber. But when you get guys sparring it out up one stage, down the next, it seems to be more real. It doesn't happen much these days.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1142 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 20:23

2 Likes

Colin Peyresourde wrote:
Nibali is in great form. I just wish he was having to break a sweat for this win. It would at least reduce my suspicions that he was doping. No vulnerability on a 3 week tour is too good to be true. I thought the back and forth between Rodriguez and Hejesdal last year was more authentic (but probably not untainted).

Must admit, I had not really paid Nibali *all* that much attention before, but the style and apparent grace with which he has taken this race, right from early on, has made me give him a lot of respect - I like him (although am still very patriotic and would love to see Cav win the rosso).

It will be a real disappointment if it subsequently turns out that Nibali is a doper - but he seems so extraordinarily dominant (against a field that, let's face it, has neither been snoozing, nor lacks talent) that it does raise eyebrows...

posted by Tjuice [110 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 21:02

4 Likes

His form makes me think that even if Wiggins hadn't got sick he may have struggled to beat him.
As far as doping goes - i was giving him the benefit of the doubt up until today but the way he smashed that time trial (not a discipline he is famous for) brought to mind the saying "If its too good to be true, it usually is".
I hope im wrong - he seems nice and he deserves to win based on his performance.

posted by Some Fella [762 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 21:04

5 Likes

Surely, if he was doping, he wouldn't want to make the gap so big? Only a clean rider would continue to increase the gap.
Right?
Please?

Collett73's picture

posted by Collett73 [14 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 21:26

6 Likes

Is it really "too good to be true"? What does the 'real' winner have to look like to be convincing?

Look at the contenders, or what's left of them. A grinder who may be past his best (no offence Cadel), a Sky mountain domestique, Scarponi (not a role model for clean cycling), some young pretenders/climbers... not the cream of the current generation of GC riders.

Do you think the race would have played out like this if riders like Froome, Rodriguez and Contador were there? The best rider isn't going to have to suffer if no-one really puts in a real challenge.

Mentioned on Bikeradar earlier this week:

Quote:
2012: 3rd TDF
2011: 2nd Giro, 7th Vuelta
2010: 3rd Giro, 1st Vuelta
2009: 7th TDF
2008: 11th Giro, 18th TDF
2007: 19th Giro

If that's not a consistent career trajectory, I don't know what is.


I'm not saying he's definitely clean, but I don't see evidence that he's doping.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1965 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 21:38

3 Likes

Yeah, hope its a clean win of course, but like you say it makes you think. Mind you, off days are not a guarantee of a clean rider... long time passed now and yeah I know doping is no doubt much more sophisticated now, but Riis and Ullrich had off days in TdF if memory serves me correctly?...

posted by Steveal [27 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 21:54

5 Likes

Floyd Landis had the most famous off-day-then-great-day as well.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3198 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 22:39

3 Likes

Ain't seen riding like this since the days of tainted steak!!

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [956 posts]
24th May 2013 - 0:04

5 Likes

Another uncomfortable fact - Nibali rides for Astana - a team with a stellar history of doping...

Pastaman

posted by pastaman [218 posts]
24th May 2013 - 0:05

4 Likes

Not only Nibali riding out of his skin, Danilo di Luca now found to have been on EPO, after impressing many pundits.

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [956 posts]
24th May 2013 - 10:25

5 Likes

Even Wiggo on normal form would not get close to Nibali on this form. You could see Nibali was going to nail this TT the way he flew around that velodrome at the start.

He seems genuine and clean not tainted by the Ferrari scandal. Keep this form and he will make it interesting at Le Tour.

posted by RTB [48 posts]
24th May 2013 - 19:19

3 Likes