Nibali defends Tirreno crown
Rome - Italy's Vincenzo Nibali became the first rider in over 20 years to successfully defend his Tirreno-Adriatico crown on Tuesday as the Astana racer held off the challenge of Britain's Chris Froome.
The Italian is the first rider to defend his crown in the Tirreno since Swiss Tony Rominger in 1989-1990.
Froome had begun the day 34sec behind his rival and Nibali was able to hold him off to take the overall win following a 9.2km time-trial around San Benedetto del Tronto on Italy's eastern Adriatic coast.
Nibali came in 12th on the day with German racer Tony Martin of Omega Pharma winning the time-trial. Spanish Saxo Bank rider Alberto Contador - with Froome another contender for this year's Tour de France - was third overall at 52sec.
"I am really happy with this repeat victory as it is very valuable (given it was achieved) against renowned adversaries such as Contador, Froome and (Joaquin) Rodriguez," said 28-year-old Nibali, who gave up 26sec on the day to time trial world champion Tony Martin.
This latest success underlines his status as a favourite for the Tour of Italy, where he will be up against, among others, Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins.
Results from the seventh and final stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico, a 9.2km ride around San Benedetto del Tronto on Tuesday, and the final standings:
1. Tony Martin (GER/OPQ) 10min 25sec, 2. Adriano Malori (ITA/LAM) at 0:06, 3. Audrey Amador (CRC/MOV) 0:10, 4. Fabian Cancellara (SUI/RSH) 0:12, 5. Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP/MOV) 0:14, 6. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 0:15, 7. Hayden Roulston (NZL/RSH) 0:20, 8. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/OPQ) 0:21, 9. Dario Cataldo (ITA/SKY) 0:23, 10. Alex Dowsett (ENG/MOV) 0:23.
1. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) 28hr 08min 17sec, 2. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) at 0:23, 3. Alberto Contador (ESP/SAX) 0:52, 4. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/OPQ) 0:53, 5. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 0:54, 6. Chris Horner (USA/RSH) 1:21, 7. Mauro Santambrogio (ITA/FAR) 2:03, 8. Audrey Amador (CRC/MOV) 2:42, 9. Przemyslaw Niemiec (POL/LAM) 3:19, 10. Wout Poels (NED/VAC) 3:35.