Nibali Wins Stage 13 of Tour de France, Extends Overall Lead
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) has stamped his authority on the Tour de France. The Shark of the Strait rode away from the maillot jaune group and extended his overall lead on the day’s final climb. The Astana man won the 2014 Tour’s first Alpine stage, a 197.5-km ride from Saint-Etienne to Chamrousse, in 5:12:29. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) finished second at 0:10, and Leopold Konig (NetApp-Endura) took third at 0:11.
Today was a sunny, hot day in the Alps. The stage began with a moment of silence for the passengers of Flight 17, the Malaysian airliner that Ukrainian separatists appear to have shot down with a missile. Many of the victims were Dutch, and riders for the race’s two Dutch squads, Belkin and Giant-Shimano, wore black armbands.
At 18 km, the break du jour formed. It consisted of Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Rudy Molard (Cofidis), Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp-Endura), Brice Feillu (Bretagne-Seche Environnement), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Kristjan Durasek (Lampre-Merida), and Daniel Oss (BMC). The peloton kept the escape on a short leash, with the fugitives’ advantage maxing out at five minutes before Katusha went to the front and began to chase. At 75 km, with the field scores of km from the day’s decisive climbs, the break’s lead was under two minutes.
On the ascent of the Category 1 Col de Palaquit, Kadri and Bakelants dropped the rest of the break. De Marchi recovered, however, and the Italian caught and dropped the Frenchman and the Belgian. At the summit, De Marchi led Bakelants by 1:00 and the peloton, which was fragmenting, by 2:30.
The Cannondale man led the maillot jaune group at the base of the hors categorie ascent to the finish. The maillot jaune group closed the gap, however, and was less than a minute in arrears with 15 km left. One km later, the escapee was caught.
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) made the first move. The Frenchman attacked with 12 km left, but Nibali and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) took his wheel. Konig attacked, and Majka followed. Valverde attempted to bridge up to the move, and only Nibali and Pinot could follow.
Pinot and Konig led the maillot jaune group by 0:18. Nibali let Valverde and Pinot drive the chase. The gap between them and other GC contenders, such as Richie Porte (Sky) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC), widened.
With seven km to go, Nibali attacked. He bridged up to Majka and Konig and rode with the pair until 3.3 km remained. The Italian attacked again and soloed home to take his third stage win of this Tour.
Nibali, along with the heat, produced a slaughter in the Alps. Porte lost nine minutes to drop out of the top 10, while van Garderen moved from sixth to fifth while losing 1:33. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) dropped from 11th to 19th, while Valverde ceded 0:50 to the Italian.
In the overall, Nibali leads Valverde by 3:37 and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) by 4:24. The standings will be shaken up more tomorrow. Stage 14, a 177-km trek from Grenoble to Risoul, will take the riders over the Category 1 Col du Lautaret, the hors categorie Col d’Izoard, and the Category 1 ascent to the finish. Who will win? Will Nibali’s contenders take time out of him? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!