Carapaz in pink as Nibali begins to show his class
COMO - Vincenzo Nibali proved once more that age is just a number for the Sicilian old hand as he showed great strength over three consecutive mountain stages to move closer to a third maglia rosa.
The Shark, as Nibali is affectionately known, comfortably kept pace with fellow pre-race favourite Primož Roglič as the peloton passed through the highest point of this year’s race, before powering away from the Slovenian on the run in to Como to claw back close to a minute of the time he lost to Roglič in the first week of the race.
Nibali now sits in third place, one minute behind Roglič in the overall standings, and one minute forty-seven seconds back on Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz who produced a stunning solo ride to snatch the maglia rosa and a second stage victory in this year’s Giro on the climb to Courmayeur, in the Aosta Valley.
Carapaz had come into the race as a domestique for team-leader Mikel Landa, but the 25-year-old has wasted no time in proving he was far from just a support rider. He attacked his fellow General Classification favourites with 28 kilometres to go up the day’s penultimate summit at Colle San Carlo, before eking out an advantage over just over a minute and a half on the rise up to the ski-village of Courmayeur.
He then proceeded to show his strength the following day by holding attacks from Nibali at bay and keeping with the Italian to maintain his advantage.
Nibali’s resurgence aside, Italy had more to cheer about as they claimed their second and third wins of this year’s race. Cesare Benedetti won a hilly stage into Pinerolo while Dario Cataldo won his first Giro stage at the tenth year of asking following a 200 kilometre breakaway, holding off Mattia Cattaneo in Como.
The riders will now move onto what was touted as the hardest stage of this year’s Giro, a monster of a day in the saddle that included the famed Mortirolo and Gavia climbs. Unfortunately, snow conditions mean race organisers have jettisoned the latter climb, but the stage will likely still prove decisive in deciding the final general classification.
The peloton will then take on two flatter stages, before two days in the high mountains and a final 17-kilometre time trial in Verona.