Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is closing in on his first Giro d'Italia without a stage win. Past champions before, including Ryder Hesjedal last year, crowned their victories with a win in one of the races famous Alpine mountain legs.
"I think I can win one of the big mountain stages or the time trial [today]," Nibali explained in press conference yesterday.
"It's always hard to win those. I also have to defend an important jersey, which I've been wearing for already many days. My goal is to take time on my rivals, and if there's a chance to win a stage, then I'll try."
Nibali gifted the Jafferau stage to fellow Italian, Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) on Saturday. The duo escaped and worked together to achieve their goals: Nibali time on rivals, Santambrogio a stage win.
Time is running out for Nibali. Today's mountain time trial and two high-mountain stages, Val Martello and Tre Cime di Lavaredo remain.
Bad weather, however, may cut the meat out of those tests. Race technical director, Mauro Vegni told Cycling Weekly on Tuesday that the Gavia and Stelvio passes are at risk and that he may re-route cyclists through the valleys to reach Val Martello. He added that he might have to cancel the Giro's jewel, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, because it could be impossible to reach.
Tomorrow, snow and freezing temperatures are expected at Passo dello Stelvio, the race's highest climb at 2758 metres.
Taking such famous passi out of the Giro would lessen Nibali's win.
Nibali explained without them, it would be easier to control his 1-26-minute lead over Cadel Evans (BMC Racing). But he added, "It's hard to say if I'd feel like the winner."
Giro d'Italia 2013 stage 18 live text coverage
Nibali ready for Giro's decisive time trial
Giro d'Italia 2013: Previews and race info
Giro d'Italia 2013: Coverage index
Giro d'Italia 2013: British TV schedule
Giro d'Italia 2013: 10 things you need to know
Giro d'Italia 2013: The Big Preview
Giro d'Italia 2013: Stage reports
Stage 17: Visconti wins from escape
Stage 16: Intxausti continues Movistar's successful Giro with stage win
Stage 15: Visconti wins Galibier stage
Stage 14: Santambrogio wins and Nibali strengthens lead
Stage 13: Cavendish takes his fourth stage win of 2013 Giro
Stage 12: Cavendish takes 100th win as Wiggins' Giro bid faltrs
Stage 11: Navardauskas wins as favourites enjoy day off
Stage 10: Uran wins as Wiggins and Hesjedal lose time
Stage nine: Belkov takes solo win as Wiggins put under pressure
Stage eight: Dowsett wins as Nibali takes race lead
Stage seven: Wiggins crashes as Hansen wins
Stage six: Cavendish wins stage six of Giro
Stage five: Degenkolb avoids crash to take win
Stage four: Battaglin sprints to first Giro stage win
Stage three: Paolini takes charge
Stage two: Sky wins team time trial
Stage one: Cavendish wins opener
Giro d'Italia 2013: Photo galleries
Photos by Graham Watson
Stage 17 gallery
Stage 16 gallery
Stage 15 gallery
Stage 14 gallery
Stage 13 gallery
Stage 12 gallery
Stage 11 gallery
Stage 10 gallery
Stage nine gallery
Stage eight gallery
Stage seven gallery
Stage six gallery
Stage five gallery
Stage four gallery
Stage three gallery
Stage two gallery
Stage one gallery
Team presentation gallery
Giro d'Italia 2013: Videos
Giro final week preview
Giro week two preview
Giro first week video preview
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