Nibali keeps a cool head after shining on cobbles

Wed Jul 9, 2014 2:55pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

ARENBERG PORTE DU HAINAUT France (Reuters) - Yellow jersey holder Vincenzo Nibali smashed his rivals on the cobbles on Wednesday, but the Italian climber knows the Tour de France is still full of traps.

After five eventful stages, the Astana rider has a lead of more than two minutes on his Spanish rival Alberto Contador while defending champion Chris Froome of Britain crashed out of the race after suffering a third fall in two days.

Nibali, who won the Giro last year and was third on the Tour in 2012, is looking to complete his set of grand Tour titles as he prevailed in the Vuelta four years ago.

Only five riders, France's Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil, Belgian Eddy Merckx, Italian Felice Gimondi and Contador have won all three grand Tours.

It is an intriguing thought but despite taking early control on crash-littered day on the cobbles of northern France on Wednesday, Nibali knows several riders will be setting their sights on him with three quarters of the race to run.

Contador, along with Americans Andrew Talansky and Tejay van Garderen, Australian Richie Porte, Spain's Alejandro Valverde and Dutchman Bauke Mollema are all within three minutes with three mountain ranges to come.

"I didn't think I would distance Contador so much today," Nibali told reporters. "But I'll keep my feet on the ground. I want to remain quiet.

"It's still a long way away with lots of mountains and everybody has seen today that crashes can happen."   Continued...

Astana team rider Vincenzo Nibali of Italy crosses the finish line of the 155.5 km fifth stage of the Tour de France cycling race from Ypres Belgium to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut July 9, 2014.  REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen