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July 22, 2017

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Nibali stamps authority with win atop Hautacam

HAUTACAM, France -- Vincenzo Nibali emphasized his total domination of the 2014 Tour de France with a fourth stage victory on Thursday.

The 29-year-old Italian had admitted on Wednesday that he was riding within himself but on the 144.5-kilometer 18th stage from Pau to Hautacam, he decided to put on a demonstration.

And it was precisely on the final 13.6-kilometer hors category climb to the finish where Nibali turned on the after-burners and showed just how gaping the chasm between him and the competition is.

"On the last climb I possibly went too soon but I was in good shape," said Nibali.

"The pace had been fast because I didn't want to let the breakaway get too far ahead. It was really important for me to win this prestigious stage on the Hautacam.

"I'm really happy I did it and I dedicate it to my team because they worked so hard for me."

Seemingly the only danger to Nibali, who stretched his overall lead to more than seven minutes, came not from his rivals but from spectators.

On the climb, Nibali hit a woman who stepped out in front of him to try to take a picture.

The Italian's shoulder caught the young woman's arm but the Astana leader was unharmed and continued on to victory.

Although he admitted the Tour is as good as won, with only three stages left before the finish in Paris, Nibali said that incident showed he cannot count his chickens just yet.

"I'm very happy with this stage win and certainly I've accumulated a healthy advantage so I can remain calm for the next stages and Saturday's time trial," he said.

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