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Nibali expands Tour lead with Stage 18 win

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Updated: 7/24 11:17 am

Argeles-Gazost, France (SportsNetwork.com) - Italian Vincenzo Nibali captured Stage 18 of the Tour de France on Thursday and increased his overall lead in cycling's most prestigious race.

Nibali finished the 145.5-kilometer trek in a time of 4 hours, 4 minutes and 17 seconds for his fourth stage win of this year's Tour.

The finale in the Pyrenees took the riders from Pau to Hautacam and featured two ascents of the highest category. After climbing the Col du Tourmalet, the stage ended with a push to the top of the Montee du Hautacam.

France's Thibaut Pinot was 70 seconds behind in second place, while Poland's Rafal Majka, the Stage 17 winner, was another two seconds back.

Nibali, who won Stage 13 in the Alps, began the day 5 minutes and 26 seconds ahead of Spaniard Alejandro Valverde and now owns an advantage of 7:10 over Pinot.

"It's fantastic to have won four stages. I didn't believe I'd do that," Nibali said. "There aren't many stages till the finish now and my lead is consolidated. I'm pretty serene. I've wanted to leave a footprint in the Pyrenees."

Frenchman Jean-Christophe Peraud was fourth in Thursday's stage and moved into third place in the overall classification, 7:23 behind Nibali. Valverde is another two seconds off the yellow jersey's pace after a 10th-place finish.

Friday's Stage 19 is a 208.5-kilometer ride from Maubourguet Pays du Val d'Adour to Bergerac.

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