Posted: Saturday May 18, 2013 3:00 PM

Santambrogio wins Giro stage on altered course

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BARDONECCHIA, Italy (AP) - Mauro Santambrogio of Italy won the 14th stage of the Giro d'Italia in rain, wind and snow Saturday on a course that was changed because of avalanche threats. Countryman Vincenzo Nibali extended his overall lead.

Santambrogio won in 4 hours, 42 minutes, 55 seconds, beating Nibali in a final sprint at the top of the steep Jafferau climb. Carlos Betancur was third.

"It still hasn't sunk in,'' Santambrogio said. "I set off at the end, in the snow. My team was magnificent today. I found myself in front with Nibali with about 3 kilometers to go, Vincenzo attacked and I responded, because I felt good.''

The course was changed shortly before the start and the climb up Sestriere was removed. The cyclists were rerouted through Val di Susa on a longer 112-mile trip from Cervere to Bardonecchia.

Sunday's route, which crosses into France and includes climbs up the Galibier and the Col du Mont Cenis, is also likely to be altered.

Nibali finished third and second in his last two Giros. He extended his lead to 1:26 over Cadel Evans and is in position to win his country's biggest cycling race for the first time.

"It was a very difficult stage,'' Nibali said. "There was just rain the whole way, apart from at the end, when we were hit by sleet. The road is still long. I did well today. Santambrogio won after managing to stay on my wheels.''

Santambrogio moved up to fourth, 2:47 behind Nibali and just a second behind third-place Rigoberto Uran.

Sonny Colbrelli, Luca Paolini, Matteo Trentin and Daniele Pietropolli led for most of the leg, building a lead of more than nine minutes. But the main pack started to reel in the four riders with 25 miles left. Trentin and then Pietropolli fell back from the lead group shortly before the start of a grueling climb to the finish.

Nibali made his move with less than 1.5 miles to go, emerging from the fog near the finish line with Santambrogio. But Santambrogio persevered, holding off the race favorite to claim his first stage victory in a Grand Tour race.

The Giro ends May 26 in Brescia.

 
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