Giro d'Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali: I saw the tide had turned

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Giro d’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali: I knew I could win at the top of the Cima Coppi

The Shark of Messinah reveals moment he knew he could win a second Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali says he knew he could turn the race around as they hit the highest point in the race – the Cima Coppi climb, Colle dell’Agnello.

The Shark of Messinah started stage 19, which featured the biggest climb of this year’s race, four minutes and 43 seconds in arrears behind race leader Steven Kruijswijk.

But as they crossed the Franco-Italian border at the summit, the Italian champion’s fortunes changed with Kruijswijk crashing on the descent and Nibali going on to claim the stage win.

Vincenzo Nibali says the exact moment he realised he could turn the Giro d’Italia around was atop the Agnello (pic: Sirotti)

He still had to overhaul new race leader Johan Esteban Chaves on the penultimate day, which he duly did, to cement his second Giro d’Italia win and fourth Grand Tour victory in all.

And while he admits Kruijwijk’s crash into the snow banks on the descent of the Agnello paved the way for his victory, Nibali insists fortune favoured the brave.

“I can say that on the last three kilometres, I was the one who attacked,” he said after being crowned champion in Turin.

“I noticed something maybe the others hadn’t spotted. I saw the maglia rosa was suffering near the top and breathing heavily so I understood that I could attack and put pressure on him on the descent.

“The descent is a place to attack for me, just like a climb. If I hadn’t put him under pressure on the descent, nothing would have happened and maybe Chaves would have tried something on Risoul.

“But [it was] at the top of the Agnello, I realised I could turn it all around.”

Nibali attacked on the descent and went on to win the stage, while previous leader Steven Kruijswijk crashed and lost time (pic: Sirotti)

Nibali attributed intestinal problems to his weak performance in the mountain time trial, a day on which he lost more than two minutes to Kruijswijk.

But he recovered on the rest day to follow up his victory in his last Giro d’Italia appearance, in 2013, to move level with Roberto Heras and Tony Rominger on four career Grand Tour wins – the joint-tenth most.

Nibali has won on his last two Giro d’Italia appearances, and now has the joint-tenth most Grand Tour career wins with four (pic: Sirotti)

Chaves, 26, who was pipped to a first Grand Tour win on the final day in the mountains, insists his second place is just the start .

“I have learnt that dreams can come true,” the Orica-GreenEDGE man said. “If you keep working and never give up then your dreams can come true.

“I would not be in this position without the magnificent work and support of my teammates and everyone involved with Orica-GreenEDGE, I would like to thank all of them.

“These last few days have been the best of my life. This is just the beginning, that is what I told my teammates and this is what I believe.”

Giro d’Italia 2016: final GC

1) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – 86.32.49hrs
2) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-GreenEDGE +52”
3) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +1.17
4) Steven Kruijswijk (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo +1.50
5) Rafal Majka (POL) – Tinkoff +4.37
6) Bob Jungels (LUX) – Etixx-QuickStep +8.31
7) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Cannondale +11.47
8) Andrey Amador (CRC) – Movistar +13.21
9) Darwin Atapuma (COL) – BMC Racing +14.09
10) Kanstantsin Siutsou (BLR) – Dimension Data +16.20

Runner-up Johan Esteban Chaves insists he will come back even better (pic: Sirotti)

Giro d’Italia: other classifications

Points classification: Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA) – Trek Factory Racing
King of the Mountains: Mikel Nieve (ESP) – Team Sky
Best young rider: Bob Jungels (LUX) – Etixx-QuickStep
Team classification: Astana

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