(Reuters) - Italian Vincenzo Nibali was poised to win his second Giro d’Italia title after taking the overall lead in impressive fashion in the final mountain stage on Saturday.
The Astana rider, who started the day 44 seconds behind pink jersey holder Esteban Chaves of Colombia, attacked on the long ascent to the Col de la Lombarde, dropping his rivals one by one as Estonia Rein Taramae (Katusha) won the 20th stage after featuring in the day’s breakaway.
Sunday’s 21st and final stage to Turin is a flat ride that should not change the overall standings.
Nibali, who took sixth place in the stage, never looked back as Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) and his compatriot Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) hung on in the distance.
Chaves cracked and lost more than 1:30 to the Italian champion who should now repeat his 2013 title.
Nibali leads Chaves by 52 seconds, according to provisional results, with Valverde in third place, 1:17 off the pace.
Nibali was far from contention after a catastrophic showing in last Sunday’s uphill time trial and after a bad day in the mountains on Tuesday.
But his stage win on Friday added to overall leader Steven Kruijswijk’s crash put him back in the mix and, Nibali, one of six men with titles in all three grands tours, duly delivered on Saturday.
Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond