Mezgec Wins Final Stage of Giro d'Italia; Quintana Takes Overall
The 2014 Giro d’Italia is history. Nairo Quintana (Movistar - Canyon Bikes) has won it, and he is the first Colombian to do so. He claimed victory moments after Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) won Stage 21, a flat, 172-km run from Gemona del Friuli to Trieste, in 4:23:58. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) finished second, and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp-POC) finished third.
The stage began at a relaxed pace, but the relaxation ended when the bunch reached Trieste. The riders took on nine circuits of the Piazza Unita d’Italia. Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge) jumped clear, and Denmark's Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol) joined him. The pair led the field by 0:45 with 37 km left, but Sky, Cannondale, Movistar, and Trek led the pursuit. Carlos Quintero (Colombia), Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF Inox), and Valerio Agnoli bridged up to the move, but the chase reeled it in on the penultimate lap.
Francesco Bongiorno (Bardiani-CSF Inox) attempted a couple of sallies, but the sprinters’ teams had none of it. Mezgec was boxed in with 500 m left, but the Slovenian, who was racing in front of fans from just across the Italo-Slovenian border, got to the front and took the lead along the right-hand barriers.
Mezgec admitted to being motivated by the Slovenian fans. “I was under a bit of pressure today as there was so much Slovenian support here, but that makes the win feel even better,” the Giant-Shimano man said. “I was really hoping to get a big result here today and have been focused on this stage all week, so it can’t get any better than this.
“The circuit was tough, but the roads were big and we knew that we had to stay in front on the climb. This worked well, and I was still fresh for the sprint at the end.
“Three weeks is a long time and makes your legs feel different but I have been saving the legs for today and it has all paid off.”
Quintana crossed the finish line moments after Mezgec. He pumped his fists when he crossed the finish line, and he embraced his teammates. The Movistar man took his infant daughter Mariana onto the podium with him and smiled as he and Colombian fans sang their country’s national anthem. Quintana, like many athletes, dreamed of winning a Grand Tour when he was a boy. “But every rider dreams,” he said. “When last year, after I finished 2nd in the Tour, my dream seemed much closer. It was a precocious dream, and I’m still very young, with my 24 years, but I’ve won the race that I dreamed of.”
The Colombian added that he owed his victory to teamwork and to his family’s support, and he dedicated the win to team, family, and country. “The podium was emotional,” he said. “I dedicate my victory to my team. Without them, I’d never have reached Trieste as the winner. And when I say team, I mean everyone--the soigneurs, the mechanics, the press officer, everyone who was close to me. I also dedicate it to my family who came from Colombia to support me, and to my Colombian compatriots. I hope they enjoy this win.”
In the overall, Quintana beat Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), another Colombian, by 2:58 and Fabio Aru by 4:04. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) won took the points competition, while Julian Arredondo (Trek) won the mountains competition, and Quintana was the race’s Best Young Rider. Follow these and other riders of the Giro during the rest of the season at www.roadcycling.com!