Sign up for our newsletter


Gallery: Don't swim with sharks, you might get bitten

Jack Elton-Walters
21 May 2021

Vincenzo Nibali shows class is permanent as he makes an Ineos rider look silly on the final descent on a day that went to the breakaway

Back in 2016, Vincenzo Nibali overturned a deficit of over four minutes in the last few stages to win the Giro d'Italia. With cycling evermore a young man's game – with 24-year-old Egan Bernal looking likely to hold pink all the way to Milan – such a move from Nibali is unlikely to be repeated.

But that doesn't mean he's done, as he proved on Stage 12 of this year's race.

The Shark of Messina first tried to go clear with his Trek-Segafredo teammate Giulio Ciccone on the final ascent of the day to the summit of Passo del Carnaio, but that was snuffed out by the Ineos metronome.

As well as he goes uphill, no one goes down the other side quite like Nibali. Equal parts thrilling and petrifying to watch, the veteran Italian was throwing himself through corners with precision and soon had a gap on the peloton.

One Ineos Grenadier, another Italian, tried to follow but was inferior to the task, going down on a corner like Bambi on ice. What's more, team and race leader Bernal is a pretty good descender himself and very unlikely to lose the 4:04 he holds over Nibali, so why was that one Grenadier chasing when the rest of the team knew better and were taking the descent at their own, still rapid, pace?

Nibali actually only gained seven seconds, but the man's an entertainer and a champion so we hope to see more attacking racing from him before the race is up.

That seven second advantage came a full 10:07 after his compatriot Andrea Vendrame of AG2R-Citroen had proved had the best legs and best head in the breakaway to take his first Grand Tour stage win.

That task was made easier by the breakaway group of four being halved when George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) and Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) continued a petty squabble about workload while Vendarme and Team DSM's Chris Hamilton maintained their professionalism and battled for the stage win.

Here are Chris Auld's best photos from a day when the shark bit back: