Vincenzo Nibali wore the pink jersey for the first time in his career earlier this Giro d'Italia, and now the 26-year-old Italian added another career milestone by soloing to victory today in stage 14, his first individual Grand Tour stage win. This is the third consecutive individual stage win by an Italian rider, making up for the home nation's twelve-stage drought to open the Giro d'Italia.
While Italian media now focuses on a possible rivalry inside the Liquigas-Doimo team, Nibali made clear that Ivan Basso was informed of his plan to attack after crossing the summit of the Monte Grappa. 'The shark of the strait', as the Sicilian from Messina is nicknamed, rode the final 40 kilometres by himself and finished 23 seconds ahead of teammate Basso, Michele Scarponi (Androni Giocattoli) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) at the finish line.
Nibali was familiar with the town of Asolo because this is where he became the Italian national champion in the junior ranks back in 2002. "This place brings me luck," Nibali said.
Nibali admitted a tactical mistake was made during stage 11 when they let a breakaway go and allow Spanish climbers like Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) and current pink jersey wearer David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) a 12:42 advantage. "We hope to not repeat the same kind of mistake before the end of the Giro," Nibali said. "It's not only us, from Liquigas-Doimo, who made the mistake. Race leader [Alexandre] Vinokourov didn't handle the responsibilities of the race but we've put a final point on this fact and we've moved forward to new goals.
"Ivan and I have done a very nice race today," Nibali said. "Scarponi has done very well in responding straight away to our accelerations. Evans has suffered uphill but he's someone who knows how to handle the pain and I'm sure he'll be up there until the end of the Giro."
The Italian duo of Liquigas-Doimo have recovered two minutes from the Spanish trio of Sastre, Xavier Tondo (Cervelo TestTeam) and Arroyo. "Tomorrow is a harder stage and we'll continue to try and climb up on GC again," Basso said about tomorrow's stage 15 finishing up the gruelling Zoncolan.
"Today we've spent a lot of energy," Nibali said. "Tomorrow is an important stage. The whole final week is very hard. People imagine me taking advantage of the downhill off the Gavia for winning the pink jersey but all will depend on how much energy I'll have left. I prefer to approach the Giro day-by-day."