MADRID, Sept 12, 2013 (AFP) – Italian Vincenzo Nibali clung on to his
narrow lead of the Tour of Spain after a grueling 18th stage on Thursday.
Sky’s Belarusian rider Vasil Kiryienka won the stage after breaking away at
the end of the 186.5km ride from Burgos to Pena Cabarga that featured five
categorised climbs, including a tricky final ascent.
Kiriyenka’s breakaway to the summit of Pena Cabarga almost cost Nibali his
lead atop the general classification, now cut to just three seconds.
The Sicilian couldn’t respond to a push by the Katusha team in the final
ascent, and then the attack by RadioShack’s 41-year-old American rider Chris
Horner, who was sixth across the finish line.
Nibali, who finished 10th 25sec off Horner, also gave away time to
Spaniards Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), now third in the overall standings at
1:10, and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), fourth at 2:24.
“Horner is very strong, it’s incredible what he’s doing at almost 42 years
of age,” Nibali told Spanish television at the end of the race.
“Horner showed he’s one of the great pretenders for this Vuelta.”
Kiryienka, who bowed out of the Tour de France in July after missing the
time cut on stage nine in the Pyrenees, was one of an initial 15-strong group
to break away from the main peloton, and attacked in Alto del Caracol, 45km
from the finish.
The 32-year-old arrived at the foot of the Pena Cabarga with 1:30 on his
rivals and managed his ride-in to perfection.
Friday’s 19th stage sees the riders tackle 181km with the finish again at
altitude, demanding a first-category climb to Alto del Naranco before tackling
the infamous Alto de l’Angliru on Saturday’s stage.
Leading results from the 18th stage of the
Tour of Spain, a 186.5km ride from Burgos to Pena Cabarga on Thursday:
1. Vasil Kiryienka (BLR/SKY) 4h 46min 48sec
2. Chris Anker Sorensen (DEN/SAX) at 0:28.
3. Adam Hansen (AUS/LTB) 1:18.
4. Martin Kohler (SUI/BMC) 1:34.
5. Egoi Martinez (ESP/EUS) 1:42.
6. Chris Horner (USA/RSH) 1:53.
7. Amets Txurruka (ESP/CJR) 2:02.
8. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 2:13.
9. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 2:13.
10. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) 2:18.
11. Nicolas Roche (IRL/SAX) 2:18.
12. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 2:24.
13. Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) 2:24.
14. Daniel Moreno (ESP/KAT) 2:31.
15. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/EUS) 2:36.
16. Leopold Koenig (CZE/APP) 2:36.
17. Tanel Kangert (EST/AST) 2:36.
18. Diego Ulissi (ITA/LAM) 2:49.
19. Igor Anton (ESP/EUS) 2:49.
20. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA/ARG) 2:53.
1. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) 73h39min 35sec
2. Chris Horner (USA/RSH) at 0:03.
3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 1:09.
4. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 2:24.
5. Nicolas Roche (IRL/SAX) 3:43.
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 5:44.
7. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 6:14.
8. Leopold Koenig (CZE/APP) 6:35.
9. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/EUS) 7:51.
10. Tanel Kangert (EST/AST) 11:10.
11. Daniel Moreno (ESP/KAT) 11:15.
12. Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) 12:14.
13. Jose Herrada (ESP/MOV) 12:30.
14. David Arroyo (ESP/CJR) 13:48.
15. Igor Anton (ESP/EUS) 16:46.
16. Dominik Nerz (GER/BMC) 18:28.
17. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/RSH) 19:37.
18. Chris Anker Sorensen (DEN/SAX) 20:21.
19. Eros Capecchi (ITA/MOV) 23:26.
20. Andre Cardoso (POR/CJR) 23:55.