Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) took another step today towards winning his home tour, the Giro d'Italia. On the wet and foggy slopes above Bardonecchia, heading to Jafferau at 1908 metres, he left his rivals behind with eventual stage winner Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia).
"Am I the new patron? I don't know about that, it's a long Giro d'Italia, but that was a good test," Nibali said on TV. "Santambrogio won, but I was able to gain a good gap to my direct rivals."
Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) lost 33 seconds. He remains second overall, but moved from 41 seconds to 1-26 minutes back.
Rigoberto Urán, Sky's new leader after Brad Wiggins abandoned, gained three seconds on Evans but lost time on Nibali. Still in third place, he dropped from 2-04 back to 2-46 minutes time back.
Nibali fired clear with Italian Santambrogio at 1800 metres from the line. Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) followed for around one kilometre.
In Jafferau at 1-2°C with light snow, Nibali explained in some of the race's first live images.
"We let the escape go early on, but only get 12-13 minutes. The group maintained a big rhythm just to keep warm," Nibali said.
"In the last 20 kilometres, Sky maintained a hard rhythm for Urán. Urán tried, but it wasn't an attack to make the difference. The others didn't have the legs, at least more than what I had. Martino [Astana team manager, Giuseppe Martinelli - ed.] told me that from two to one kilometre was the hardest, so I tried at that point."
The 14th stage, the second summit finish after Urán won in Montasio, was cut short due to snow. At 11:20 this morning, just 1 hour and 20 minutes before the start, organiser RCS Sport confirmed the riders would not pass Sestriere, but would take the Susa Valley to arrive to Bardonecchia.
From Italy's western-most town, Nibali took off his long-sleeve jersey and raced in a short-sleeve maglia rosa.
"It rained from the start to end, then at the start of the Jafferau it was so cold, but at least it stopped raining," Nibali added. "What's good is that I was going well."
He heard the overall standings through his earpiece and forgot about the cold.
"These time gaps," he said, "are important."
The last and only other time the Giro d'Italia visited Jafferau, Eddy Merckx chased down José Manuel Fuente to win the stage and help secure his eventual overall win.
Nibali may have achieved the same result today. At 1-26 minutes, Evans will have a hard time catching his rival.
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig survives repeated attacks to win the Tour of Scandinavia
Marianne Vos takes a fourth stage win win after an entertaining and combative final day in Norway
By Owen Rogers • Published
Aerosensor: the most accurate (and cheapest) handlebar-mounted wind tunnel so far?
Former F1 engineer is crowdfunding a complete system for real-world aero testing that's due to launch next year
By Tom Epton • Published
‘I was rubbing shoulders with Nibali and Valverde’ - Oliver Knight gets starstruck at Vuelta a Burgos
UAE Team Emirates rider makes big step up in key race before the Vuelta a España
By Tom Thewlis • Published
Vincenzo Nibali rolls back the years with shark attack on stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia
37-year-old up to fifth on general classification with five stages left
By Adam Becket • Published
The general classification just got even tighter: Five talking points from stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia 2022
There was climbing, climbing, and more climbing on Tuesday
By Adam Becket • Published
Vincenzo Nibali compared to Zlatan Ibrahimović by impressed Astana-Qazaqstan DS: 'He has some surprises in store'
The Italian last won a race in October, his first in more than two years
By Chris Marshall-Bell • Published
Vincenzo Nibali: 'My final year? I haven't made a decision yet'
The Italian returns to Astana for 2022, but hasn't yet figured out whether it will be his swansong
By Jonny Long • Published
Vincenzo Nibali abandons Tour de France 2021
The Italian star is the latest to leave the race ahead of the Olympics
By Alex Ballinger • Published
Vincenzo Nibali: 'My Giro started uphill and isn't getting much better'
Italian throws support behind team-mate Giulio Ciccone after crash on stage eight
By Richard Windsor • Published
Astana-Premier Tech sports director wants Vincenzo Nibali to finish his career with the team
The general manager of Astana-Premier Tech has said that he wants Vincenzo Nibali to return to his team for the last season of his career.
By Tim Bonville-Ginn • Published