Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) goes into tomorrow's final stage of the 2013 Giro d'Italia with an increased lead in the general classification after a spectacular stage victory in snowy conditions on the Tre Clime di Lavaredo.
The Italian was the first of the favourites to attack on the final climb, and was able to ride away from everyone and solo alone to the finish, holding off the Colombian trio of Fabio Duarte (Colombia), Rigoberto Uran (Sky) and Carlos Betancur (Ag2r).
Despite failing to catch Nibali and challenge for the stage win, it was still a successful day for the Colombians, with Duarte registering his best result of his Giro, Uran leapfrogging Cadel Evans (BMC) into second overall, and Betancur taking the white jersey from Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) and moving up to fifth overall, despite the setback from a mechanical on the penultimate climb.
With the Passo Costalunga, Passo San Pellegrino and Passo Giau all removed due to the weather conditions, it was a quiet day until Nibali's attack on the final climb, with the favourites all opting for a defensive race.
Four riders made up the break of the day: Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol), Giairo Ermeti (Androni Giocattoli), Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack-Leopard) and Pavel Brutt (Katusha), with the latter going alone on the penultimate Passo Tre Croci category 2 climb. Here he was caught by Pieter Weening (Blanco), Gianluca Brambilla (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Eros Capecchi (Movistar), with the latter breaking free on the final climb.
Here, however, they were all swallowed up, with the weather making for an extraordinary spectacle; a war of attrition with riders visibly at the limit, their panting breath visible in front of their faces in the freezing atmosphere.
Those who suffered most dramatically included Evans, who lost a further one minute and 40 seconds to Nibali, and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel), who was unable to reward his team for the work put in at the front of the peloton for most of the day, instead falling outside of the top ten at the expense of Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r).
In the mountains classification, Stefano Pirazzi sealed victory with three points on the Passo Tre Croci, while the points classification underwent a shake up with Nibali moving into the lead ahead of Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
However, thanks to points scored in intermediate sprints today (despite the best efforts of Rafael Andriato (Vini Fantini) and his inexplicable challenge), Cavendish needs only 10 points in tomorrow's stage to reclaim the jersey, so should seal victory comfortably and take a full set of Grand Tour points classification wins.
Giro d'Italia 2013 stage 21 preview>>
Giro d'Italia 2013, stage 20: Silandro/Schlanders to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, 203km
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana in 5-27-41
2. Fabio Duarte (Col) Colombia at 17 secs
3. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Sky at 19 secs
4. Carlos Betancur (Col) Ag2r La Mondiale at 21 secs
5. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 44 secs
6. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli at 48 secs
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale at 54 secs
8. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale at 58 secs
9. Darwin Atapuma (Col) Colombia at 1-00
10. Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo-Tinkoff at 1-04
Overall classification after stage 20
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana in 79-23-19
2. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Sky at 4-43
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 5-52
4. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 6-48
5. Carlos Betancur (Col) Ag2r La Mondiale at 7-28
6. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida at 7-43
7. Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo-Tinkoff at 8-09
8. Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar at 10-26
9. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini at 10-32
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale at 10-59
Pieter Weening solo
Vincenzo Nibali leads the favourites group
Tre Cime climb
Carlos Betancur and Rigoberto Uran
Vincenzo Nibali solo up front
Giro d'Italia 2013: Previews and race info
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 18: Nibali wins time trial to extend lead
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 20 gallery
Stage 19 cancelled
Stage 18 gallery
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
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