Tour de France 2014: Vincenzo Nibali stamps his authority on the yellow jersey as he powers away from Richie Porte to stretch lead with stage 13 victory

Nibali faced his most testing climb so far but flourished as he pulled away from the rest of the field to win his third stage of this year's Tour

with the Tour de France

The Tour de France leader Vincenzo Nibali delivered a near-knockout blow in Friday’s first alpine summit finish, taking his third stage win and adding nearly a minute to his overall advantage. Meanwhile, Sky’s Richie Porte, who had been lying second behind the Italian, cracked badly.

The contrast between the way the 29-year-old Sicilian and the Australian, also 29, approached the finish line at the top of the 18-kilometre ascent to Chamrousse ski station could not have been more expressive of the duo’s different fortunes on a day of intense heat.

Alone and certain of his triumph, Nibali was still collected enough to zip up his yellow jersey of race leader as he rode towards the 33rd victory of his nine-year career. Then his usual inexpressive mask melted slightly into a faint grin, as it began to sink in that the chances of his winning Italy’s first Tour since 1998 had increased enormously.

Porte on the other hand had his Sky jersey wide open and was sweating heavily as he approached the line nearly nine minutes later. Fortunately the Tasmanian, who after Chris Froome’s abandonment was Sky’s “plan B” in the Tour, had team-mates Mikel Nieve and Geraint Thomas on hand to help shepherd him up the alpine col and limit the already considerable damage.

“It seemed like the final climb would never end,” Nibali, who now leads closest rival Spain’s Alejandro Valverde by the very comfortable margin of 3 minutes and 37 seconds, said afterwards. “I really suffered in the heat, but the higher we got, the better it got. I wanted to open up as much of a gap as possible when I saw Porte had cracked, and then I got the opportunity to go for the win, too.”

It did not seem to matter that as the peloton shredded on the final ascent to Chamrousse, Nibali only had one Astana team-mate, Tanel Kangert, as support.

Valverde’s Movistar squad initially kept the pace high, which effectively did Nibali’s job for him, and then shortly after that Porte cracked – around a third of the way up the climb – when the Spanish veteran opted for an all-out attack to which only Nibali and France’s Thibaut Pinot were able to respond.

As Porte drifted further and further behind, losing 30 seconds in less than half a kilometre, Nibali then launched his first telling blow, blasting up the right-hand side of the road with a long surge. In no time at all the Italian’s workmanlike but resoundingly steady style of pedalling brought him quickly up to two earlier breakaways, Pole Rafal Majka and Czech Leopold König,  while Valverde and Pinot’s limited co-operation behind  helped the gap widen yet further.

And then, some three kilometres from the line, having cleverly all but obliged the two breakaways to keep a high pace – with two stage wins in the bag already, at Sheffield and Les Planche des Belles Filles, Nibali had less to lose – he made another of his almost imperceptible but ruthlessly effective accelerations.

Once again Nibali’s surge ahead had the effect of leaving his two final opponents reeling, and a few minutes later, as he crossed the line for his third triumph in 12 days, it brought a Tour victory much closer than 24 hours before. “Getting that win,” Nibali said, “felt like a liberation.”

Third in the 2012 Tour de France and already the winner of two of cycling’s Grand Tours, the Vuelta a Espana and the Giro d’Italia, Nibali – who also moved into the lead of the King of the Mountains competition – recognised that “it wasn’t a very good start to the season, but since the summer started I’ve managed to turn things around pretty well.”

Nibali’s victory on Friday came on a significant date for Italian cycling, too: the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the country’s greatest-ever riders, double Tour winner Gino Bartali and, as Nibali himself pointed out, the anniversary of the death of Fabio Casartelli in a crash in the Pyrenees in the 1995 Tour. “That’s very important to me, I remember that tragedy,” he said.

While Friday’s victory confirms that Nibali is the rider to beat, Porte’s below-expectations performance means that following two overall wins in 2012 and 2013, Sky will now be all but obliged to revert to their 2010 and 2011 Tour strategies and almost certainly will be fighting for stage wins at most.

“I don’t think I dealt with the heat very well,” Porte, now 16th overall,  admitted on his team’s website. “It’s one of those things. It’s a massive shame but we’ll see what happens tomorrow.

“We’re not just going to roll over”, Team Sky principal  Sir Dave Brailsford added. “Obviously it was a blow losing Chris when we were coming here to try to win the race, and certainly seeing how Nibali’s going, it would have been an interesting race, that’s for sure. And then recalibrating to our plan B, as it were,  and now we’ve got to recalibrate again.”

News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The number of GP practices with 10 or more doctors has grown by 75 per cent
science
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Recruitment Genius: Development Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game