Vincenzo Nibali extends his overall lead in the Tour de France after winning stage 18 in the Pyrenees.
Nibali is now seven minutes and 10 seconds ahead of second placed Thibaut Pinot but with only three stages to go it is unlikely that his lead will be caught.
Thriving in the mountains
Stage 18 had another summit finish and it was Nibali who thrived once again in the mountains. The Italian left his main general classification rivals behind with around 10km to go and finally caught the breakaway leader Mikel Nieve with 8km left.
The Astana rider crossed the line on his own after blowing the rest of the field away. Thibaut Pinot finished in second, one minute 10 seconds behind him.
Nibali hails 'important' win
Nibali dedicated the stage win to his team and was pleased to win a stage in the Pyrenees.
According to Sky Sports, Nibali said: “Today wasn’t for the rankings; I just wanted another stage win. The team have worked so hard for me throughout these three weeks. To win a stage in the Pyrenees is very important, and it’s for the whole team.”
Alejandro Valverde struggled on the final climb and drops to fourth overall in the standings, with Pinot and Jean-Christophe Peraud moving up to second and third.
Rafal Majka finished third today and this result means that he has now won the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey.
Nibali looks set to be only the sixth ever cyclist to win all three Grand Tours on Sunday.
Stage 18 result
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, 4:04:17
2 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +1:10
3 Rafał Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo, +1:12
4 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +1:15
5 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC, st
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +1:53
7 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, +1:57
8 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team NetApp – Endura, st
9 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory Racing, +1:59
10 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team, st
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, 80:45:45
2 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +7:10
3 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +7:23
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +7:25
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +9:27
6 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC, +11:34
7 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, +13:56
8 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin, +14:15
9 Leopold Konig (Cze) NetApp-Endura, +14:37
10 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory Racing, +16:25
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