Vincenzo Nibali is winning the Tour de France so easily that the Italian admitted he is actually riding within himself.
Since all three past winners of the world’s greatest bicycle race crashed out earlier during the Grand Boucle, Nibali has been in a class of his own.
Reigning champion Chris Froome crashed out on the fifth stage with a broken hand and wrist while two-time former winner Alberto Contador broke his shinbone in a fall on the 10th stage on Bastille Day.
Andy Schleck, the 2010 champion who was never a serious contender this year, didn’t even ride on French territory having quit following the opening three stages in Britain after he too hit the deck.
Nibali extended his overall lead to Spaniard Alejandro Valverde to five minutes 26 seconds after finishing third on Wednesday’s 17th stage from Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary-Soulan.
As he had done in every other mountain stage, and indeed every stage with an uphill finish, he put time into at least some of his nearest rivals.
Afterwards, the 29-year-old Sicilian admitted he wasn’t even pushing himself to his limits.
“My condition is very good and I’m ready to push right to the end but when I get to the end of a stage I’m not giving everything because I don’t have to, and I’ve also had an eye on the next stage,” he said.
However, he admitted it would have been different had the best riders been there.
“If Chris Froome or Alberto were riding I would need to push much more but then I would also have to manage the race differently and play more of a waiting game,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2014.
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