It’s all over but Sunday’s ride down the Champs-Elysees: Italian cyclist Vincenzo Nibali has locked up an unassailable lead in the 2014 Tour de France.
Nibali, 29, is poised to take his first title in cycling’s premier event and will become the first Italian to wear the yellow jersey on the final stage from Evry to Paris since Marco Pantani in 1998.
Astana Pro Team and Nibali, Cycling Weekly says, “relinquished the lead to Frenchman Tony Gallopin for just one day before Nibali took it back with an impressive win at the top of La Planche des Belles Filles.
“When the race hit the Alps Nibali wasted no time in cementing his lead further. He won his third stage in Chamrousse and distanced all his rivals again the following day to Risoul.”
According to The New York Times, Nibali drove home his domination when he “joined the American Chris Horner in an attack on the final climb of the Tour.”
On Saturday, a day before the finish of the grueling, nearly three-week event, Nibali did well enough in the time trial to cement his dominance, as German Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) “crushed stage 20,” Velo News writes.
The Times says:
“Before the race began, it seemed likely that a time-trial showdown would involve Alberto Contador and Chris Froome, the defending champion. But both abandoned the race earlier because of crash-related injuries.
“Oleg Tinkov, the owner of Contador’s Tinkoff-Saxo team, had suggested that Nibali, who has also won the grand tours of Italy and Spain, was winning by default. But several strong performances at the Tour by Nibali, particularly Thursday, meant that Tinkov held a minority opinion.
“Nibali rejected the idea that he was emulating the style of the disgraced Lance Armstrong by imposing himself as the boss no rider dare cross.
“‘I’m very different than Lance,’ said Nibali, whose news conference manner is certainly far less combative than Armstrong’s. ‘I haven’t done one huge performance. I got 30 seconds here, 40 seconds there.'”