Italian cyclist Vincenzo Nibali didn’t lead throughout most of the Tour de France’s Stage 13, which traveled from Saint-Etienne to Chamrousse on Friday, but he did when it mattered. The Astana leader surged ahead on the final climb to secure his place as the man to beat in this year’s race. In doing so, Nibali also snagged the polka-dot jersey that’s doled out to the best climber. The wearer of the dots going into the stage was Team Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez, who has declared retaining the polka-dot maillot is his sole goal.
But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the Astana Pro team. The team’s No. 2 man, Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark, crashed hard after reportedly hitting a water bottle on mid-race descent. He was able to continue riding, but looked pained as he rode with a bloody left flank hanging out of a tattered jersey and shorts.
— NBC Sports Network (@NBCSN) July 18, 2014
For a time, it seemed the loss of Fuglsang to the back of the pack might affect Nibali, but the Italian proved his doubters wrong when he flew off on his own on the final kilometers of the Chamrousse climb.
“I wanted to control the race. It was a very long climb, I thought it would never end,” Nibali told reporters (via Reuters) after winning the leg.
When it finally did end, Nibali had extended his lead to 3 minutes 37 seconds over the next best rider, Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde of Spain.
Meanwhile, the man who started off the day second to Nibali in contention for the yellow jersey, Richie Porte of the battered Team Sky, lost his legs on the final climb and slipped to 16th place in the overall standings, nearly nine minutes behind the leader. Earlier in the Tour, Team Sky lost leading man Chris Froome, who suffered a series of injuries sustained in three separate crashes.
Here are the top 10 overall contenders as the cyclists prepare to continue into the Alps in Saturday’s Stage 14.
- Vincenzo Nibali of Italy, Astana Pro Team, 56 hours, 44 minutes, three seconds
- Alejandro Valverde of Spain, Movistar, +00:03:37
- Romain Bardet of France, AG2R La Mondiale, +00:04:24
- Thibaut Pinot of France, FDJ.FR, +00:04:40
- Tejay van Garderen of the United States, BMC Racing, +00:05:19
- Jean-Christophe Peraud of France, AG2R La Mondiale, +00:06:06
- Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands, Belkin Pro Cycling +00:06:17
- Jurgen Van den Broeck of Belgium, Lotto-Belisol, +00:06:27
- Rui Costa of Portugal, Lampre-Merida, +00:08:35
- Leopold Koenig, of the Czech Republic, Team NetApp Endura, +00:08:36