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Giro d'Italia Stage 18: Nibali Cements Lead, Evans and Santambrogio Falter

Vincenzo Nibali cemented his lead in the overall classification today by wining the uphill time trial to Polsa by a wide margin. Few surprises occurred in the general classification save very disappointing rides by Cadel Evans and Mauro Santambrogio.

Fotoreporter Sirotti

The second individual time trial of the race was an uphill affair, climbing 1.013 meters from the start in Mori to the summit of a category 2 climb in Polsa. The climb really had three parts - approximately 8 kilometers climbing at a steady 6.6%, a flattish middle 5 kilometers, and another 6 kilometers climbing steadily again at 6.6%.

Samuel Sanchez set the first truly fast time of the day, coming over Damiano Caruso to spend a long time in the hot seat as the top ten in the general classification came closer and closer, but not under, his time. Every now and then his face would break into a wry grin as he shook his head, clearly thinking "No, no vas a ganar hoy. Todavía numero uno." Michele Scarponi set a new fastest time at the intermediate time check but could not match Sanchez's pace over the second half of the climb.

But, Sanchez's lead was always going to be threatened by pink skinsuit wearer Vincenzo Nibali, who set off in pursuit of Cadel Evans. Evans seemed to be on a jour sans, going through the intermediate time check a full minute down on the time of Scarponi. The Australian's style looked far more labored than Nibali, the former constantly in and out of the saddle while the latter rode steadily in the saddle with a smooth pedal stroke. Nibali was clearly flying, going through the intermediate check a full 32 seconds faster than Scarponi. As the time gap between Nibali and Evans grew, it almost appeared he may catch the BMC rider by the end of the climb despite starting a full three minutes behind.

Nibali's pace never slackened and he came in a full 58 seconds faster than Sanchez to win the stage and cement his position as favorite to win the overall classification on Sunday. Evans finished outside the top 20 on the stage and now only precariously holds onto his second place in the overall. The other big loser of the day was Mauro Santambrogio who finished alongside Evans' time and dropped two spots. Thanks to his win, Nibali is now also a credible threat to take home the maglia rosso passione for winning the points classification.

Stage Results:

  1. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), 44'29"
  2. Samuel Sanchez (Euskatel), at 58"
  3. Damiano Caruso (Cannondale), at 1'20"
  4. Michele Scarponi (Lampre - Merida), at 1'21"
  5. Rafal Majka (Saxo Bank), at 1'25"
  6. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Sky), at 1'26"
  7. Carlos Betancur (AG2R), at 1'32"
  8. Stef Clement (Blanco), at 1'36"
  9. Dario Cataldo (Sky), at 1'41"
  10. Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini), at 1'52"
Overall Classification
  1. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
  2. Cadel Evans (BMC), at 4'02"
  3. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Sky), at 4'12"
  4. Michele Scarponi (Lampre - Merida), at 5'14"
  5. Przemyslaw Niemic (Lampre - Merida), at 6'09"
  6. Rafal Majka (Saxo Bank), at 6'45"
  7. Carlos Betancur (AG2R), at 6'47"
  8. Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini), at 7'30"
  9. Benat Intxausti (Movistar), at 8'36"
  10. Samuel Sanchez (Euskatel), at 9'34"
Points Classification
  1. Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quickstep), 113pts
  2. Cadel Evans (BMC), 109pts
  3. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), 103pts