Giro d'Italia: Vincenzo Nibali claims second to extend lead

Italy's Mauro Santambrogio won a gruelling stage 14 as overall race leader Vincenzo Nibali finished second to extend his Giro d'Italia lead.

Organisers removed a climb to Sestriere because it was deemed too dangerous to descend in the ice, but riders still had to contend with snow, rain and fog.

In freezing conditions, Nibali attacked on the climb to the finish at Jafferau.

He gained 33 seconds on second-placed Cadel Evans and 30 seconds on third-placed Rigoberto Uran of Team Sky.

It was a dramatic end to another demanding day in Italy, as the race entered the Alps for the first time.

Alessandro Vanotti, one of Nibali's key team-mates in his Astana team, broke a collarbone after coming off his bike, and he was not the only casualty.

Analysis

"It was an exciting finish that has certainly shaken things up a bit at the top of the general classification, not just with Vincenzo Nibali but also with Mauro Santambrogio moving up the standings.

"It was a savage stage. We walked up the final 800m to the finish line at Jafferau and that was far enough. With 350m to go, you had three bends to go to get to the home straight and you had to crane your neck to see it, it was that steep.

"The riders crossing the line were in bits. What takes it out of them is the effort they put in, but also the cold, damp air they are sucking in.

"The climb they took out was a long one but not a steep one. It would have been a slog and with the weather like this, they would have been happy to go around it rather than up it, even if it did make the stage 12km longer."

Enrico Battaglin, the winner of stage four, is out after suffering the same injury while Britain's Garmin Sharp rider David Millar ended his involvement because of a chest infection.

Millar's withdrawal comes a day after race favourite Sir Bradley Wiggins dropped out with the same problem.

Mark Cavendish's lead-out man Gert Steegmans is also out, failing to make the start-line in the rain at Cervere on Saturday as the wet and freezing conditions continued to take their toll on the field.

The poor weather also disrupted TV coverage of the stage and information of how Nibali and the rest of the contenders for the general classification were faring on the brutal final climb to Jafferau was scarce.

A four-man breakaway - Katusha's Luca Paolini, Bardiani's Sonny Colbrelli, Lampre's Daniele Pietropolli and Matteo Trentin of OPQS - had escaped with about 100km of the modified 180km stage to go and reached the bottom of the last hill about four minutes clear.

Another three riders, including Team Sky's Sergio Henao, tried to get clear on the way up Jafferau, which has a 10% gradient, but there was little information about their progress.

And it was Nibali, in the maglia rosa of the race leader, who was first to emerge from the gloom at the finish line, after attacking 1km out.

Santambrogio went with him and Nibali seemed happy to see his compatriot take the stage victory.

Nibali now leads Australian Evans by one minute and 26 seconds with Colombia's Uran 2'46" adrift.

The race stays in the Alps on Sunday but the bad weather means the planned finish, at the top of the formidable Col du Galibier, has been changed.

Stage 15 will now conclude at the lower Les Granges du Galibier otherwise known as the Pantani Monument - which marks the spot where the late Italian rider Marco launched his famous attack during the 1998 Tour de France.

The race start has also been pushed back by half an hour, now beginning at 12:00 BST.

Stage 14 result:

1. Mauro Santambrogio (Italy/Vini Fantini) 4:42:55"

2. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/Astana) ST

3. Carlos Betancur (Colombia/AG2R) +9"

4. Samuel Sanchez (Spain/Euskaltel) +26"

5. Rigoberto Uran (Colombia/Team Sky) +30"

6. Cadel Evans (Australia/BMC Racing) +33"

7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Italy/AG2R)

8. Robert Kiserlovski (Croatia/RadioShack)

9. Sonny Colbrelli (Italy/Bardiani Valvole) +55"

10. Damiano Caruso (Italy/Cannondale) +58"

11. Rafal Majka (Poland/Saxo-Tinkoff) +59"

12. Yury Trofimov (Russia/Katusha)

13. Franco Pellizotti (Italy/Androni Giocattoli) +1:04"

14. Diego Rosa (Italy/Androni Giocattoli) +1:08"

15. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Poland/Lampre)

16. Fabio Duarte (Colombia/Colombia) +1:15"

17. Benat Intxausti (Spain/Movistar) +1:24"

18. Michele Scarponi (Italy/Lampre) +1:28"

19. Luca Paolini (Italy/Katusha) +1:41"

20. Sergio Henao (Colombia/Team Sky) +1:48"

General classification:

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/Astana) 57:20:52"

2. Cadel Evans (Australia/BMC Racing) +1:26"

3. Rigoberto Uran (Colombia/Team Sky) +2:46"

4. Mauro Santambrogio (Italy/Vini Fantini) +2:47"

5. Michele Scarponi (Italy/Lampre) +3:53"

6. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Poland/Lampre) +4:55"

7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Italy/AG2R) +5:02"

8. Rafal Majka (Poland/Saxo-Tinkoff) +5:32"

9. Carlos Betancur (Colombia/AG2R) +5:39"

10. Benat Intxausti (Spain/Movistar) +5:41"