Cycling: Nibali happy with form

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Race leader Vincenzo Nibali was delighted to resist a late acceleration from Alberto Contador on the Tour de France’s first day in the mountains on stage eight.
Contador set a fierce pace up the final climb to Gerardmer La Mauselaine and while the likes of Richie Porte and Alejandro Valverde struggled to keep pace, Nibali managed to stay with the Spaniard.
He dropped off of his wheel within sight of the finish line and eventually lost three seconds, but remains 2min 34sec in front of the two-time Tour winner in the general classification.
“The last climb suited him more than me,” Nibali said. “It was very difficult and explosive. I quickly understood what he wanted to do since he put his team at work. He attacked me but I was going well.
“We expected him to do so any time. He is ready to gain time wherever he can. He went strongly. I tried to handle the situation the best way I could. I tried to control until the very end and resisted all of his attacks.”
Despite Contador having dictated the tempo on the final climb, Porte is a more immediate threat to Nibali in the overall standings after climbing to third place overall, 1min 58sec back.
Valverde is also ahead of Contador in fifth place, 2min 27sec down, and Nibali insists it is more than just a two-horse race.
“The race is not a duel,” he added. “It’s more than that. Richie Porte is up there. He is not here by coincidence. I have also seen Valverde riding at ease, even if he lost a bit at the end. There have been great riders in action today.”
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Porte, meanwhile, was also happy with his display on stage eight, despite failing to keep pace with Contador and Nibali.
The Team Sky rider said: “I’m happy with how that went. It’s not really my bread and butter, that short, sharp [climbing].
“It puts me in quite a good position. I’m a little bit behind those guys on that type of terrain, but maybe on the longer climbs I will be a bit better.”
The race remains in the Vosges mountains for a hilly day on stage nine on Sunday and then a summit finish at La Planche des Belles Filles on stage ten on Monday.

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