Vincenzo Nibali won the individual mountain time trial in the 18th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Thursday to extend his overall lead.

The Italian finished in 44 minutes, 29 seconds on the 20.6-kilometre (12.8-mile) uphill route from Mori to Polsa for his first stage victory in this year's race. Samuel Sanchez was 58 seconds behind. Damiano Caruso was third, 1:20 behind Nibali.

Nibali, who finished third and second in his last two Giro d'Italia races, extended his lead to 4:02 over Cadel Evans and remains on course to win his country's biggest cycling race for the first time. There are three stages remaining.

Evans had a miserable day and finished the course in 25th place. At one point it even looked like Evans would be caught by Nibali, who started three minutes behind the Australian. Evans is now 10 seconds ahead of third-place Rigoberto Uran.

"It's not for lack of trying that I lost a minute or two minutes," Evans said. "I came to this Giro with high hopes, but not high expectations. My real objective was to give my best, and, until this point, I've made a few mistakes, but nothing big. So in that regard, in terms of giving my best, that's great.

"But of course you want to be winning — and that's maybe when your hopes rise above your capabilities. I'm unlikely to win, but I came here for training for the Tour de France. Second place at this point is not so bad."

Nibali has dominated this year's Giro to wear the pink jersey since the time trial in the eighth stage.

Evans had been looking to gain some time on this stage but was nowhere near Nibali, whose speed allowed him to move nearly 1 1/2 minutes ahead of the Australian Evans in the first half of the race. He extended that gap as rain fell heavily at the finish.

Sanchez had hoped for a stage victory after taking the lead by 22 seconds, but his time was annihilated by Nibali.

Friday's 19th stage is the first of two more mountain legs, a 139-kilometre (86-mile) route from Ponte di Legno to Val Martello. There are three climbs of more than 2,000 metres, though they might have to be altered because of avalanche threats and sub-zero temperatures.

The Giro ends May 26 in Brescia.