Chamrousse, France (SportsNetwork.com) - Vincenzo Nibali of Italy won Stage 13 of the Tour de France on Friday and increased his overall lead in cycling's most prestigious race.
Nibali finished the 197.5-kilometer trek in the first of two days in Alps in a time of 5 hours, 12 minutes and 29 seconds for his third stage win of this year's Tour. Poland's Rafal Majka was 10 seconds behind in second place and finished just one second ahead of Leopold Konig of the Czech Republic.
The final ascent on Friday was one of the highest category and Nibali had no serious challengers in the final two kilometers, especially from Richie Porte and Alejandro Valverde -- his nearest competitors for the coveted leader's yellow jersey.
"It's a special day today," said Nibali, who has been in yellow every day except for one since winning Stage 2. "I'm very happy. I just wanted to gain as much time as I could. I knew Valverde was close to me. Porte was close to me as well. Porte had a problem and he was dropped, and in the end it was only Valverde and me."
Valverde finished fourth on Friday, 50 seconds behind the winner. The Spaniard is now second overall, but trails Nibali by 3 minutes and 37 seconds. Porte was unable to stay with the leaders on the final climb and wound up 27th on Friday, 8:48 behind Nibali in the stage. The Australian began the day in second overall just 2:23 behind Nibali, but is now 11:11 back in 16th place.
"Ye-ouch!! Rough day for me at TdF," Porte tweeted after the race. "Big thanks to @TeamSky boys for staying with me. See what the rest of the race brings."
Romain Bardet is 4:24 off the pace in third after a seventh-place finish Friday, with fellow Frenchman Thibaut Pinot another 16 seconds behind in fourth overall. American Tejay Van Garderen is 5:19 behind Nibali in fifth after finishing Friday's grueling stage in sixth place.
Three climbs highlighted Friday's run from Saint-Etienne to the Chamrousse ski station outside of Grenoble, but the final ascent of 18 kilometers had an average gradient of 7.3 percent and it clearly hurt a few riders.
With Majka and Konig in front, Valverde tried to attack first and couldn't pull away from a small group that included Nibali. When Nibali made a move toward the front a short time later, Valverde was unable to keep up as the Italian reeled in the two leaders and easily surpassed them.
"I'm the one who attacked first," noted Valverde. "I rode full gas to do the best I could, but when Nibali attacked I couldn't follow him. Tomorrow will again be difficult. I will need to recover some strength."
Saturday's Stage 14, also in the Alps, is 177 kilometers from Grenoble to Risoul. It features three climbs, a highest category ascent up the Col d'Izoard in between a pair of Category 1 ventures -- the last at the very finish.