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Nibali wins fourth stage to extend lead

ESPN staff
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Vincenzo Nibali won his fourth stage of this year's race © AP
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Vincenzo Nibali closed in on the Tour de France crown as he extended his lead to over seven minutes with victory in stage 18 at the last summit of this year's race.

Astana rider Nibali continued his procession towards Paris by claiming his fourth stage win this year on the 145.5-kilometre run from Pau to the summit finish on the Hautacam.

With just two flat stages and one time trial remaining, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) finished one minute and 59 seconds behind Nibali but lost crucial seconds to Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale), who go second and third in the general classification.

"Today wasn't for the rankings; I just wanted another stage win," Nibali said. "The team have worked so hard for me throughout these three weeks. To win a stage in the Pyrenees is very important, and it's for the whole team."

Pinot outsprinted Tinkoff-Saxo's Rafal Majka, who took his second stage win yesterday, to second place on Thursday.

Majka will, however, be staying in polka dots after claiming an unassailable lead in the King of the Mountains category as the Tour leaves the Pyrenees.

The Tour will resume with Friday's 208.5km stage 19 from Maubourguet Pays du Val d'Adour to Bergerac.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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