Nibali strengthens overall lead after battling weather

Reuters, BARDONECCHIA, Italy

Mon, May 20, 2013 - Page 19

Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali strengthened his overall lead in the Giro d’Italia on Saturday after battling through treacherous conditions to finish second behind compatriot Mauro Santambrogio in the race’s first Alpine summit finish.

With temperatures plummeting to zero amid intermittent freezing rain, Santambrogio and Nibali accelerated away from a small group of favorites 1.5km from the mist-shrouded summit finish, crossing the line 9 seconds ahead of closest pursuer Carlos Alberto Betancur.

Nibali’s closest rivals, Rigoberto Uran of Colombia and Australia’s Cadel Evans, finished 30 and 35 seconds down. Overall, Nibali leads Evans by 1 minute, 26 seconds, with Uran remaining third, but slipping to 2 minutes, 46 seconds behind.

The treacherous weather conditions led to one climb, the second-category Col du Sestriere, being canceled.

Organizers had meetings with local authorities and police on Saturday to discuss whether yesterday’s summit finish on the Col du Galibier climb could go ahead.

As the bad weather continued unabated, four riders did not start and a further three, including former Giro and Tour leader David Millar of Britain, did not finish the stage.