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 joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.