Cycling: Nibali cements grand tour reputation with second Giro d'Italia win

(REUTERS) - Vincenzo Nibali cemented his reputation as one of the great grand cycling tour riders, when he claimed his second Giro d'Italia title in vintage fashion on Sunday.

The Italian, who won the 2013 Giro, was battered and bruised after a terrible performance in last Sunday's uphill time trial and Tuesday's mountain stage to Andalo, but when all seemed lost he hit back in style.

The Astana rider won solo in Risoul on Friday when overall leader Steven Kruiswijk crashed, and he put the hammer down on Saturday by dropping his closest rivals Alejandro Valverde and Esteban Chaves, who was wearing the pink jersey.

Nibali is one of only six men to win all three grand tours; the 2013 Giro, 2010 Vuelta and 2014 Tour de France crowns.

His team considered pulling him from the race earlier this week after his mediocre form saw him slip out of contention.

The first to win the Giro as the Italian champion since Felice Gimondi in 1969, Nibali eventually beat Colombian Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) by 52 seconds and Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by 1min 17sec.

It is Valverde's seventh podium in a grand tour although he has only won one, the Vuelta 2009.