June 01, 2014 – Nairo Quintana became the first Colombian winner of the Giro d’Italia as Slovenian Luka Mezgec won Sunday’s 21st and final stage. Movistar’s Quintana, who was second at last year’s Tour de France, headed a Colombian one-two with Rigoberto Uran finishing second and 23-year-old Italian Fabio Aru, the revelation of the race, third. Mezgec of Giant-Shimano, beat Italian Giacomo Nizzolo and Tyler Farrar of the USA in the sprint finish at the end of the 172km stage from Gemona to Trieste.
Quintana, widely regarded as the best climber in the world, totally dominated the final week of the race having initially seemed out of sorts in the first couple of weeks when first Australian Cadel Evans, the 2011 Tour de France winner, and then Uran, who was also second last year, took the race by the scruff of the neck.
But Quintana made his move on Tuesday’s 16th stage over 139km from Ponte di Legno to Val-Martello. That stage began in freezing conditions with walls of snow around the riders but Quintana not only resisted the elements but rode away from his rivals to win the stage and take the leader’s pink jersey off Uran. Three days later he extended his lead and consolidated the feeling it was his tour to win when he triumphed in the 19th stage mountain time-trial. And even on Saturday’s climb up the infamous Monte Zoncolan, none of Quintana’s overall GC rivals could take time out of him and the race was won.
“It’s a Giro in which I’ve suffered, more than anyone could imagine,” said Quintana. “I had physical problems, I wasn’t at 100 percent, I must have been at 60 percent of my full potential. The descent of the Gavias (was the toughest point). I was frozen, tired. Izaguirre fed me. That’s what allowed me to continue, and to win. In this Giro I’ve learnt to overcome adversity and to manage a team over three weeks, to be a leader,” he said.
Uran, who moved into pink when winning the 12th stage individual time-trial, admitted he had been beaten by the better man. “I thought I could win the Giro. I believed after the (stage 12) time-trial but I’ve never been able to see it through in the Grand Tours,” he admitted.
Sunday’s mostly flat final stage was always going to be about a bunch sprint finish despite a brave breakaway from Canada’s Svein Tuft and Dane Lars Bak that lasted around 35km but was hauled in before the final 10km. Thereafter the sprinters’ teams controlled the pace of the peloton to ensure it ended in a bunch scramble.
Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni, the leader of the points competition, was the favorite having won three stages earlier in the race but when it came to the final sprint, he didn’t have the legs and had to settle for fourth. Cannondale and Team Sky had done a lot of the pace-setting in the run-in but neither of their sprinters, Italian Elia Viviani and Briton Ben Swift respectively, managed to figure in the challenge for victory. Nizzolo’s Trek team controlled the last couple of kilometers but when it came down to it, Mezgec had the stronger legs.
Results from the 21st and final stage of the Giro d’Italia. 172km – Gemona del Friuli to Trieste:
1. Luka Mezgec (SLO/GIA), 4hr 23min 58sec (average speed 39.1km/h)
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA/TRE) same time
3. Tyler Farrar (USA/GRM) s.t.
4. Nacer Bouhanni (FRA/FDJ) s.t.
5. Roberto Ferrari (ITA/LAM) s.t.
6. Leonardo Duque (COL/COL) s.t.
7. Luca Paolini (ITA/KAT) s.t.
8. Tosh Van der Sande (BEL/LTB) s.t.
9. Borut Bozic (SLO/AST) s.t.
10. Iljo Keisse (BEL/OPQ) s.t.
Final overall standings
1. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 88h14:32
2. Rigoberto Uran (COL/OPQ) at 2:58
3. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 4:04
4. Pierre Rolland (FRA/EUC) 5:46
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 6:32
6. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 7:04
7. Wilco Kelderman (NED/BKN) 11:00
8. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 11:51
9. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/GRM) 13:35
10. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/TRE) 15:49
11. Alexis Vuillermoz (FRA/ALM) 24:45
12. Franco Pellizotti (ITA/AND) 26:13
13. Alexandre Geniez (FRA/FDJ) 27:02
14. Maxime Monfort (BEL/LTB) 28:36
15. Ivan Basso (ITA/CAN) 32:08
Overall standings (pink jersey): Nairo Quintana (COL/Movistar)
Points standings (red jersey): Nacer Bouhanni (FRA/FDJ.fr)
Mountains classification (blue jersey): Julian Arredondo (COL/Trek)
Young rider classification (white jersey): Nairo Quintana
Team standings: AG2R La Mondiale
20 Years of Giro Winners:
2014: Nairo Quintana (COL)
2013: Vincenzo Nibali (ITA)
2012: Ryder Hesjedal (CAN)
2011: Michele Scarponi (ITA)
2010: Ivan Basso (ITA)
2009: Denis Menchov (RUS)
2008: Alberto Contador (ESP)
2007: Danilo Di Luca (ITA)
2006: Ivan Basso (ITA)
2005: Paolo Savoldelli (ITA)
2004: Damiano Cunego (ITA)
2003: Gilberto Simoni (ITA)
2002: Paolo Savoldelli (ITA)
2001: Gilberto Simoni (ITA)
2000: Stefano Garzelli (ITA)
1999: Ivan Gotti (ITA)
1998: Marco Pantani (ITA)
1997: Ivan Gotti (ITA)
1996: Pavel Tonkov (RUS)
1995: Tony Rominger (SUI)