Tough days left for Nibali

Vincenzo NibaliAstana team manager Alexander Vinokourov admits Tour de France leader Vincenzo Nibali (1/16 – Outright) took “a great step” towards victory after winning stage 13 but says there are still tough days left.

Nibali claimed his third stage win in the Alps on Friday as he took first place from Rafal Majka in second while Leopold Kinog was third.

It leaves the Italian with an overall lead of three minutes and 37 seconds over Alejandro Valverde (12/1 – Tour de France outright) with Romain Bardet (14/1) in third spot in the general classification.

Nibali’s team manager Vinokourov believes the victory has sent out a message to his rivals and places him in an increasingly strong position for the rest of the Tour.

“He showed he is the boss in the Tour,” Vinokourov said. “(On Friday) they all understood and they let him do it.

“You win the Tour in Paris. It’s true we’ve taken a great step towards the final victory, we’ve got a team that’s working well, but there are still some tough days to come.”

Nibali admitted after the race he feared Team Sky rider Richie Porte the most, but the Australian slipped away on Friday as he lost more than eight minutes in the Alps.

“My intention was to just control in the final climb, but when I saw Richie Porte in trouble, probably because of the heat, which can happen to anyone, my goal became gaining important seconds over Valverde,” Nibali said.

“If I looked happier on the podium than on the occasions of my previous wins, it was because I was delighted to have gained important seconds over Valverde and Porte.

“My advantage over Porte is good now. He’s the rider I feared the most in the closing time trial. We’ll see if he’ll recover from the heat.

“For the coming days, I only know that I have to remain quiet. There are still so many mountains ahead.”

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