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TdF #18 Nibali the champion

July 26, 2014

The Italian is by far the best in this year’s tour and now looks certain to win in Paris. He has looked like a champion the whole race, and has more days in yellow than worth counting. Today, he sealed a stage win by dropping everyone near the start of the final climb, overtaking last standing escapee Nieve with 9km to go and then rode in front alone to take another stage.

The rest did not even bother to try and keep up. They were the second class bunch fighting each other, Nibali has long been the class above and far out of touch. Majka jumped clear of the small bunch containing most of the top ten GC riders, trying to keep his king of the mountains. Nibali has been so strong this year that he would have taken the mountains competition unless Majka finished in the top six in the stage.

The pace set by the French dropped Valverde and then split the rest of the group. The best of the rest included Pinot, Peraud and van Garderen. The remainder split and rejoined like a slinky. Valverde recovered enough to lose less than a minute to Pinot and Peraud. That was enough to drop him off the podium and he will need an excellent time trial to get that back. Only Majka out of the first dozen or so stage finishes was not in the top ten on GC.

Nibali has dominated the race and crushed his opposition. However, I feel robbed of a true contest. Nibali would definitely have been challenged more if Froome or Contador (or even Quintana) were racing. Who would have won between them? We will never know.

Hopefully next year we can have a battle royale between those champions.

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