Vincenzo Nibali of Astana has won Stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia in Risoul this afternoon to set up what should be a thrilling climax to the 99th edition of the race on its final day in the mountains tomorrow. He now lies second overall, with LottoNL Jumbo's Steve Kruijswijk losing the overall lead to Orica-GreenEdge's Esteban Chaves.
Nibali, the pre-race favourite, struggled last weekend and appeared to be out of contention for a repeat of his 2013 overall victory.
There had even been talk of the Sicilian, 4 minutes 33 seconds off the lead at the start of the day, pulling out of the race ahead of today's 152km stage from Pinerolo.
That was forgotten this afternoon however as he stormed to victory by 51 seconds from Team Sky's Michael Nieve, with Chaves third, a further two seconds back.
The latter's Orica-GreenEdge team mates had pushed hard on the earlier Agnello climb, the highest point of this year's race, leaving Kruijswijk isolated and the Dutch rider lost further time on the descent after a spectacular crash into the snow lining the road.
Also involved in a crash today was Katusha's Ilnur Zakarin, who has a suspected broken collarbone.
Nibali now lies second overall, 44 seconds behind Chaves, with Kruijswijk dropping to third, 1 minute 5 seconds behind the new leader.
Tomorrow's penultimate stage from Guillestre to Sant'Anna di Vinadio includes three Category 1 climbs and a final Category 3 ascent where the overall could be decided ahead of Sunday's sprinter-friendly finale in Turin.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.