Vincenzo Nibali positioned to cruise to first Tour de France victory

By Evan Hilbert |

vincenzo nibali
Vincenzo Nibali is setup to win his first career Tour de France. (Getty Images)

Vincenzo Nibali didn't win Saturday's time trial stage at the Tour de France, but he all but locked up the title, finishing fourth and extending his overall lead. Nibali now leads Frenchman Jean-Christophe Peraud by almost eight minutes.

The stage 20 victory went to German Tony Martin, who beat the field by more than a minute. Martin has shown well in the time trials at the Tour, winning comfortably in an earlier stage.

But the day belonged to Nibali, who admitted to being nervous heading into the race Saturday.

"I'm very happy," he said. "I've felt a bit of tension today but it's normal I guess. I wanted to do well in this time trial. It wasn't an easy course. It was a perfect one for specialists like Tony Martin. I was looking forward to reach the finish. It required a big effort to ride the course. I'm pleased to have set the fourth best time".

Barring some sort of unforeseen calamity, Nibali will cruise the final 85 or so miles -- champagne in hand -- into Paris for his first career Tour de France victory.

"I haven't realized yet how big it is to win the Tour de France," Nibali said Saturday. "I'll keep that for tomorrow. It's difficult to ride the Tour but the beauty of it is to cycle on the Champs-Elysees. That's the biggest memory I've kept from my first participation: the lap of honor, the enormous number of people, Paris' monuments ... I'll try to savour my victory as much as I can. Every moment will count."

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