Stamping his dominance in the mountains and on the race overall, Vincenzo Nibali won Stage 13 of the Tour de France in the Alps on Friday up the hardest climb so far.
The Italian race leader collected his third Tour stage win by overtaking two other breakaway riders at the end of a grueling 197.5-kilometer (122-mile) trek from Saint-Etienne to Chamrousse ski station.
With eight stages to the finish, Nibali’s yellow jersey looks an ever more permanent part of his wardrobe.
The first of two days in the snow-capped mountains lived up to its billing, as the daunting final ascent of 18 kilometers (12 miles) with an average 7.3 percent gradient shook up the overall standings.
The main casualty was Richie Porte. The Australian, who took over as Sky Team leader after 2013 champion Chris Froome crashed out in Stage 5, began second to Nibali overall but lost time on the final climb and finished nearly 8 minutes off the pace.
Nibali, who has been calm and savvy in this race, crossed the line alone and thrust his hands in the air after winning 10 seconds ahead of Poland’s Rafal Majka in second and Germany’s Leopold Konig in third. The trailing two were far back in the overall standings, and not in contention to win the three-week race.
More important to Nibali was increasing the gap on his rivals for victory on the Champs-Elysees on July 17. Spain’s Alejandro Valverde fared relatively well by placing third _ 50 seconds behind Nibali _ and taking second overall from Porte. But he’s now 3 1/2 minutes behind overall.
“Today (Friday), I essentially wanted to gain some seconds,” Nibali said. “And by doing that, I won.”
Porte’s troubles also meant others climbed in the standings: France’s Romain Bardet, countryman Thibault Pinot and American Tejay van Garderen each moved up a spot to third, fourth and fifth, respectively.