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Nibali defends yellow jersey on 12th stage of Tour

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Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2014 7:50 am | Updated: 10:12 am, Thu Jul 17, 2014.

BOURG-EN-BRESSE, France (AP) — Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali has a firm grip on the yellow jersey as the 12th stage of the Tour de France gets underway.

Nibali holds a lead of 2 minutes, 23 seconds over Australian rider Richie Porte and 2:47 over Spaniard Alejandro Valverde heading into Thursday's 185.5-kilometer (115.5-mile) trek from Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint-Etienne in southeastern France — a mostly flat route which favors sprinters.

American rider Andrew Talansky did not take the start line Thursday after pulling out in the morning. He rode for several hours with excruciating back pain in Wednesday's 11th stage, where he finished in last place.

Nibali is looking to become the first Italian rider to win the showcase race since the late Marco Pantani in 1998.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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