Vincenzo Nibali may have placed 12th in Stage 16 of the 2013 Giro d'Italia on Tuesday, but that doesn't change the fact that he's the best rider in the race, or the fact that he still has a solid lead overall.
Nibali, ranked No. 5 in the world in 2013 by CyclingRanking.com, is largely considered to be the most imposing rider in the field in this year's race. Coming into the event, the Italian had won the Tirreno–Adriatico and Giro del Trentino.
Even after finishing 14 seconds behind Stage 16 winner Benat Intxausti on Tuesday, Nibali leads the pack by 1 minute and 26 seconds with five stages to go.
Team Sky reportedly is attempting to use a collective approach in the remaining mountain stages on Thursday and Friday, according to CyclingNews.com. That appears to be the team's, and the field's, best bet.
In fact, according to the report, Team Sky leader Rigoberto Uran's compatriot, Fabio Parra, has urged the remaining 12 Colombians in the race to join forces to stop Nibali.
Of course, the strategy's moot. Nibali's own team, Astana, has done a pretty good job of setting the Italian up for victory. His large lead at the moment is proof. Plus, you can't say there hasn't been a bit of teamwork before to try to knock him off, and it hasn't stopped him from succeeding.
In the snowy and foggy conditions at the 15th stage, such formidable figures as Uran, Cadel Evans and Mauro Santambrogio did everything they could to put pressure on Nibali, but he's been nearly flawless throughout the race. The only hope was that the conditions would get to him in the 15th, but that didn't happen.
Anything can happen down the stretch, particularly in the mountain stages, but given the way Nibali has been racing, it's hard to imagine a shocking upset when all is said and done.
Expect the 28-year-old from Messina to cruise to victory.