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Shark Attack! Nibali Descends to Lombardia Victory

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Italian grand tour star is a monument winner

Luk Benies, AFP/Getty

Astana's Vincenzo Nibali finally broke his duck in the Monumental classics with a show of aggression, daring and skill that lit up the roads of Il Lombardia, distancing Katusha's Dani Moreno by 23 seconds. Nibali capped off a trying year, which saw him unable to defend his Tour de France crown and kicked out of the Vuelta a Espana for rules violations, with excellent form that he deployed upon returning home from Richmond. The Shark of the Straits won Tre Valle Varesine on Wednesday and saw his strong team put him in place to deliver again in the biggest classic in Italy.

Astana dragged back the threatening attack of Etixx- Quick Step's Michal Kwiatkowski and Tim Wellens of Lotto Soudal on the penultimate climb of the Civiglio, where the race turned into a slugfest, including attacks by FDJ's Thibaut Pinot, Sky's Mikel Nieve, and Astana's closing duo of Nibali and Diego Rosa, though Katusha's Dani Moreno seemed to bring every one back, with Movistar's Alejandro Valverde sitting in and hoping for a sprint at the end. But Nibali attacked in the final 500 meters of the climb, got a slight gap, and hit the jets on the descent.

Nibal's descent of the Civiglio will go down as one of the truly exciting moments of the year. Navigating roads barely wide enough for two riders side-by-side, Nibali soared through the turns with his customary grace and dropped at heart-in-the-throat rates of speed. By the time he reached the bottom he held some 40 seconds on the chasing group. But his work wasn't done.

On the final climb of the San Fermo della Battaglia, Moreno suddenly exploded away from the chase group and powered his way up the climb, coming to within 12 seconds of the leader. But whatever Moreno could do going uphill, he stood little chance once the road tipped back down to Como, as again Nibali opened up the gap to nearly 30 seconds and coasted home over the final KM to the win. Moreno struggled in for second and Pinot got away for third.

Results:

  1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 6:16:28
  2. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:21
  3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:00:32
  4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:46
  5. Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana Pro Team, s.t.
  6. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky, s.t.
  7. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal 0:00:56
  8. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge, s.t.
  9. Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Team Sky, s.t.
  10. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:01:10