Is Vincenzo Nibali still in this Giro d’Italia?
Over two minutes down on general classification it would be unlikely at a normal tour for the 35-year-old cycling veteran to stand much of a chance. But this Giro is not a normal tour, and the extremely tricky terrain expected in the final week could play into Nibali’s hands.
At least that’s the view of Eurosport pundit Bradley Wiggins, who spoke on the latest episode of The Breakaway about what he expects from Nibali in the third week.
“He’s Mr Consistent. He just performs at the level he performs at, he never really has any terrible days but is capable of some great days as well," said Wiggins.
We’re coming into that third week, that's where he'll make his gains. He may not have the physical capability, but he'll go on a wet descent and he'll profit from other people's misfortune, as we've seen in this race.
Wiggins’ fellow pundit Brian Smith agrees that Nibali is a threat, and says the Italian won’t be disappointed by his loss of time in Saturday’s time trial.
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“We heard after the stage that Nibali didn’t do any media after the stage and went straight to the hotel, but I don’t think it’s a case of him being disappointed with the stage, it’s a case of he knows he’s got a big job to do tomorrow and it’s best to rest up,” fellow pundit Brian Smith said.
And Wiggins also believes that Nibali will be reasonably happy with his performance on the day.
“I don't think he'll be disappointed about losing the time to Almeida and the others because he never excelled in time trials, he limits his losses in the time trials," said Wiggins.
Can Nibali or any of the other big-name GC contenders catch Almeida? Smith says that even if they can, they’ll have to be prepared to take extra time out of the young Portuguese rider given that there is a final time trial still to come.
"You can only think that after today’s performance Almeida will gain time on his rivals again in the final time trial, so that means in terms of GC you can add at least another minute on that they have to get in-front of him," Smith said.
"So you’re talking about three-and-a-half minutes or four minutes that some of them have to make up.
"We know there are better climbers in the race than Almeida, but they have to go on the attack. These guys are going to have to gain lots of time on the pink jersey – where are they going to get that from?"
The GC standings
After Stage 14
- 1. João Almeida (POR) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, 54:28:09
- 2. Wilco Kelderman (NED) Team Sunweb, +56
- 3. Pello Bilbao (ESP) Bahrain - McLaren, +2:11
- 4. Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates, +2:23
- 5. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Trek - Segafredo, +2:30
- 6. Rafal Majka (POL) BORA - hansgrohe, +2:33
- 7. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) NTT Pro Cycling Team, +2:33
- 8. Fausto Masnada (ITA) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, +3:11
- 9. Patrick Konrad (AUT) BORA - hansgrohe, +3:17
- 10. Jai Hindley (AUS) Team Sunweb, +3:33