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Vincenzo Nibali finishes up safely in yellow
Race leader shrugs off doubts about his Astana team
Like all the overall contenders for the Tour de France, race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) enjoyed a quiet day in the peloton on stage 11, protected by his teammates, making sure he did not lose any time in the hilly finale and fast descent to Oyonnax.
His biggest problem appeared to be the arrival of warm weather, with temperatures close to 28C for much of the stage providing a shock after cold and rainy weather dominated the first 10 days of racing.
"It was hot today. We've passed from one extreme condition to the opposite but the heat is not a problem for me because I'm from Sicily," he pointed out.
Nibali was quizzed about today's L'Equipe newspaper, which produced a long report on possible chinks in his amour. The French sports newpaper's front page headline was L'Annee ou Jamais' – 'this year or never' for the French riders well placed overall, coming up with a list of reasons why Nibali can be beaten.
"It's been reported that I can lose the Tour because of the heat, because of crashes or because of my team. But crashes also can happen to anyone," Nibali said dismissively.
"My teammate Michele Scarponi crashed today but he got back on and didn't use any useless energy. I didn't need him at my side because Tanel Kangert and Jakob Fuglsang were there. My team worked very well today again. Many of my teammates worked hard. Of course we have to be careful every day. Daily fatigue is hard to handle. I remember from the Tour two years ago that something is can happen every day."
"Today it was hard because of the nervousness in the bunch and because Garmin launched a strong attack. Cannondale and Orica also worked hard and Gallopin's attack was the decisive one. But overall today went well."