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Giro d'Italia: Commanding Vincenzo Nibali closes in on victory


Home favourite Vincenzo Nibali strengthened his grip on the Giro d'Italia race lead with a commanding victory in the stage 18 mountain time-trial in the Dolomites.

The Astana rider, who was third behind Sir Bradley Wiggins in last year's Tour de France, won the 20.6-kilometre race against the clock from Mori to Polsa by 58 seconds from Spain's Samuel Sanchez to enhance his hold on the pink jersey.

Second-placed Cadel Evans conceded 2 minutes 36 seconds after finishing 25th on the stage to fall back to more than four minutes behind with three days of racing remaining. Team Sky's Rigoberto Uran remains third, 4min 12sec adrift, after finishing sixth on the stage, 1:26 behind Nibali.

The race now appears to be his to lose. The 28-year-old Italian is seeking a second Grand Tour success following his victory in the 2010 Vuelta a Espana and has been in supreme form in his home race.

Despite the teeming rain, Nibali was confident mood after his victory. "Today I've taken another major step towards winning the Giro," he said. "I hope the weather remains good.

"Whether or not we can ride the mountains stages as planned, changes little. I'm in good shape anyway. I've demonstrated that again today. So I'm relaxed.

"Over the last three stages, the crowds have been very big. Even today, despite the rain, there were plenty of people at the roadside. Perhaps this Giro has relaunched Italian cycling."