Giro 2013 stage 18: Nibali wins mountain time trial to Polsa

Astana captain extends maglia rosa lead

This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) stormed his way up to Polsa to not only win the mountain time trial but also to nearly seal his overall victory in the Giro d'Italia. He crossed the line in driving rain in a time of 44:29. Second went to Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) who was 58 seconds slower, with Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) third at 1:20 down.

Nibali's two closest rivals, Cadel Evans (BMC) and Rigoberto Uran (Sky) lost significant time to Nibali on the climb against the clock. Uran hit the line in a time of 45:55, giving him sixth on the day. Evans was even further behind, crossing over in only 47:05, for 28th.

The overall lead for Nibali jumped dramatically, as Evans remains in second place but is now 4:02 down. Uran is also still in third, at 4:12, moving dangerously close to the Australian.

How it happened

Good weather ruled again, as the peloton took on the Giro d'Italia mountain time trial. Rafael Andriato of Vini Fantini was the first man down the ramp at 1:13 p.m. Rider after rider followed at one minute intervals.

Steve Cummings of BMC Racing was the 17th man to go, and put in a best time of 47:08 at the finish. He sat in the hot seat for quite a while, until Eros Capecchi (Movistar) bounced him by 13 seconds. The Italian didn't stay there long, though, as Dario Cataldo of Team Sky came in 45 seconds faster. He, too, had to leave the hot seat soon, as Stef Clement (Blanco) proved to be five seconds quicker at 46:05.

Ultimately it was Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) who first broke the 46 minute mark, coming in at 45:49. The rain had started at the finish by the time Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) approached the line, coming in 22 seconds faster to take the lead with a time of 45:27.

As expected, the fireworks started as the favourites took to the course, unfortunately fighting rain most of the way. Rafal Majka of Saxo Bank fought hard rain at the finish to put in the third best time.

Nibali flew up the first part of the course, setting the best time of 20:29 at the 9.5km intermediate time check. Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) was only able to cross 31 seconds faster, as the second best at that point. The biggest surprises were Rigoberto Uran (Sky), who was 1:19 down at that point, and Cadel Evans (BMC), who was over a minute and a half down.

Those gaps continued as the favourites went up in the by-now constant rain. Nibali didn't let up at all, and it even appeared at one point that he would catch Evans, his three-minute man near the finish. Uran fought on bravely and finished in the top ten for the day, but Evans continued to struggle and lose time on the second half of the course.

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