Vincenzo Nibali won a short but brutal mountainous stage 19 of the Tour de France on Friday making up for a disappointing first week in the saddle.
With 62 kilometres remaining the defending champion took advantage of a technical problem for overall leader Chris Froome to jump clear of the 2013 winner on the upper slopes of the Col de la Croix de Fer.
The Astana rider – nicknamed the Shark – then had his sights set on early escapee Pierre Rolland.
At the foot of the final climb of the day Frenchman Rolland was staring at Nibali’s back wheel as the Italian continued his impressive pace.
Froome meanwhile had a tough day in the saddle.
With six kilometres left his closest title rival Nairo Quintana attacked and danced away from the British rider.
Froome gave chase, though, eager not to lose too much time with only two stages of the 102nd edition remaining.
Out in front the joy was plain to see as Nibali crossed over for a stunning solo victory – and first this edition – in La Toussuire.
Movistar’s Quintana took second and Froome third.
Team Sky’s Froome retained his overall race lead as he closes in on a second Tour de France title.
Courtesy of his efforts Colombia’s Quintana gained 30 seconds and is now at two minutes and 38 seconds.
The final day in the mountains takes place on Saturday ending in the fabled climb to L’Alpe-d’ Huez – before Sunday’s procession to Paris and the Champs Elysees.
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