Sport Cycling Porte vanishes as Nibali tightens his grip on tour

Porte vanishes as Nibali tightens his grip on tour

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Italian cyclist Vincenzo Nibali tightened his grip on the Tour de France by riding away to his third stage victory on the 197.5km, 13th stage from Saint-Etienne to Chamrousse on Friday.

Nibali attacked 6.6km from home and put almost a minute into nearest rival Alejandro Valverde, who finished fourth on the stage but moved up to second overall.

Rafal Majka was second on the stage with Leopold Konig third.

Australian Richie Porte, who started the stage second overall, cracked on the final climb to finish 27th, losing almost nine minutes.

Nibali now leads Valverde by 3min 37sec while Porte dropped to 16th overall at 11:11.

Nibali proved he is simply too strong for the rest on a day when his Astana team looked vulnerable, with chief lieutenant Jakob Fuglsang crashing on a descent and Michele Scarponi struggling and dropping away on the penultimate climb.

But the Italian didn’t need anyone, responding first to an attack by Valverde on the final uncategorised climb and then riding away from the Spaniard.

He caught Majka and Konig before leaving them in his wake in the final 3km to win by 10sec.

The Astana leader said he hadn’t planned to ride away to a stage victory but once he saw Porte struggling he had concentrated on trying to break Valverde.

“It was very hot but the more you climbed the better it got. Still the heat is the same for everybody,” said the 2010 Vuelta a Espana winner and 2013 Giro d’Italia champion.

“I saw Porte had dropped off already, perhaps because of the heat, so my aim was to gain time on Valverde.

“I accelerated to get up to the two leaders and we were collaborating because we knew there was a long way to go to the finish and tomorrow (Saturday) will be a tough day.

“But there wasn’t great collaboration and I saw that Valverde and Pinot were coming back up to us so I upped the tempo and with that came the victory too.”

With Froome out of the race and Porte now out of contention, Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford said they would have to target stage wins.

“Let’s see how the next few days go, we can look to animate the race as much as we can and let’s go from there,” he said.

“He (Porte) is disappointed and when you’re disappointed it’s not the time to start analysing anything, just support the lad.

“It was just a question then of minimising his losses and keep on going.”

Young Frenchman Romain Bardet moved up to third at 4:24 after finishing the stage seventh, just 1:23 behind Nibali.

It allowed him to keep hold of the young rider’s white jersey ahead of Thibaut Pinot, who is up to fourth at 4:40.