Rome - Race leader Vincenzo Nibali extended his lead over Australia's Cadel Evans
as Mauro Santambrogio won a shortened 14th stage of the Giro d'Italia to claim
his maiden win on the race Saturday.
Italian Nibali, of the Astana team, came over the finish line in second
place after giving his fellow Italian, of the Vini Farini team, the nod to take
the stage win unhindered.
Evans, the 2011 Tour de France champion, who started the day 41sec behind
Nibali, crossed the finish line 33sec behind.
Saturday's stage in the high Italian Alps was due to finish in Sestriere,
but was shortened by organisers due to fears over cold and wet conditions on
the final descent.
As snow and rain fell at high altitude, the finish line was lowered to 1 908m
at Jafferau, where BMC leader Evans and Colombian Rigoberto Uran (Team Sky)
fell off the pace in a final kilometre which proved just too steep for the duo.
Nibali's hopes of a maiden Giro win were boosted earlier this week when main
rival Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) and defending champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin)
pulled out due to illness.
In the overall standings the Sicilian, who won a 12-second time bonus, now
has a lead of 1mn 26sec over Evans, and 2:46 on Uran, who has taken the mantle
of Sky's team leader after Wiggins's retirement from the race.
Santambrogio's win, meanwhile, pushed the 28-year-old up to fourth place
overall but he is nearly three minutes off the pace and not considered a threat
After the race was shortened by 12km, from 180km to 168km, a four-man group
broke from the peloton and went on to build a lead of nearly eight and a half
They held a four-minute lead at the foot of the final climb, a 7.3km ascent
with an average gradient of nine percent.
However they were reeled in one by one as the battle for the stage win and
for the pickings in the overall race took hold.
After losing touch in the final kilometres, Evans, solid throughout the race
so far, admitted his victory bid was now compromised: "It was not my best
"I just couldn't react when the attack from Nibali came. I think that
has something to do with the last couple of days.
"I hope this is my worst day in the mountains; otherwise to fight for
the win will be difficult."
Sunday's 15th stage, due to finish on the summit of the legendary Galibier
climb in France, has also been altered due to poor weather conditions.
The finish line will now be moved from the Galibier's altitude of 2 642m
to 2 301m, at the site of a statue commemorating fallen Italian champion Marco
Results from the 14th stage of the Giro d'Italia, a 168km run from Cervere to Bardonecchia on Saturday:
1. Mauro Santambrogio (ITA/VIN) 4hr 42min 55sec, 2. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) same time, 3. Carlos Betancur (COL/ALM) at 9sec, 4. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/EUS) 26, 5. Rigoberto Uran (COL/SKY) 30, 6. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 33, 7. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) s.t., 8. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/RSH) s.t., 9. Sonny Colbrelli (ITA/BAR) 55, 10. Damiano Caruso (ITA/CAN) 58, 11. Rafal Majka (POL/SAX) 59, 12. Yury Trofimov (RUS/KAT) s.t., 13. Franco Pellizotti (ITA/AND) 1:04, 14. Diego Rosa (ITA/AND) 1:08, 15. Niemiec Przemyslaw (POL/LAM) s.t.
35. Robert Gesink (NED/BLA) 4:16, 163. Mark Cavendish (GBR/OPQ) 22:31
1. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) 57h 20:52, 2. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 1:26, 3. Rigoberto Uran (COL/SKY) 2:46, 4. Mauro Santambrogio (ITA/VIN) 2:47, 5. Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) 3:53, 6. Przemyslaw Niemiec (POL/LAM) 4:55, 7. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 5:12, 8. Rafal Majka (POL/SAX) 5:32, 9. Carlos Betancour (COL/ALM) 5:39, 10. Benat Intxausti (ESP/MOV) 5:51, 11. Robert Gesink (NED/BLA) 6:40, 12. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/RSH) 6:42, 13. Sergio Henao (COL/SKY) 7:06, 14. Yury Trofimov (RUS/KAT) 7:19, 15. Tanel Kangert (EST/AST) 7:36
17. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/EUS) 8:24, 20. Danilo Di Luca (ITA/VIN) 14:29, 134. Mark Cavendish (GBR/OPQ) 2h 13:42