Giro d'Italia Stage 21: Nairo Quintana wins overall, stage to Luka Mezgec
24-year-old Movistar rider is youngest Giro winner for a decade and the first from Colombia
Nairo Quintana of Movistar, runner-up in last year’s Tour de France, his first participation in a Grand Tour, has won his second, the Giro d’Italia. He is the first Colombian to win the race, and at 24 years of age is the youngest winner of the race since Damiano Cunego won it aged 22 in 2004.
Today’s final 167km stage from Gemona di Friuli to Trieste was won by Luka Mezgec of Giant-Shimano to the delight of Slovenian fans who had made the short trip across the border as the sprinters remaining in the race had a chance to fight it out for the stage win following a tough week in the mountains.
Giacomo Nizzolo of Trek Factory Racing was second, as he has been so often in this race, with Garmin-Sharp's Tyler Farrar third.
The points jersey, weighted this year towards the sprint stages unlike last year when Mark Cavendish entered the final stage trailing overall winner Vincenzo Nibali but overhauled him to win the classification, goes to FDJ.fr's Nacer Bouhanni, who finished fourth on today's stage.
Lars Bak of Lotto Belisol and Orica-GreenEdge’s Svein Tuft – the first leader of this year’s race more than three weeks ago in Belfast – were off the front of the peloton on the eight laps of the closing 8.2km circuit in Trieste.
They were subsequently joined by Astana's Valerio Agnoli, the Bardiani-CSF rider Valerio Agnoli, and Team Colombia rider, Carlos Quintero, but the break was hauled in with 11 kilometres remaining.
Next to chance his arm was another Bardian-CSF rider, Francesco Bongiorno, cruelly robbed of a chance to challenge Tinkoff-Saxo's Michael Rogers for the stage win on the Zoncolan yesterday after a helpful fan almost knocked him off his bike.
He would be brought back ahead of the bell though as the sprinters' teams brought their men forward, and while BMC Racing's Daniel Oss also went on the attack inside the last 2 kilometres, his attack too was doomed to failure.
Trek Factory Racing’s Julian Arredondo already had an insurmountable lead over Sky’s Dario Cataldo in the mountains classification.
He safely negotiated the final stage to complete what had been a terrific race for Colombian riders, with Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Rigoberto Uran finishing runner-up, just as he did in Sky’s colours last year.
A young podium in the general classification – average age just under 25 – was completed by one of the big hopes of Italian cycling, Astana’s Fabio Aru. He wore the white jersey today of best young rider, but only by virtue of the fact that Quintana, also eligible for that competition, was in the maglia rosa.
Indeed the Colombian has won half the jerseys available to him in the two Grand Tours he has ridden. When finishing runner-up to Sky’s Chris Froome at the Tour de France last year, he topped the young rider and mountains competition, and now adds the overall and best young rider contests at the Giro d’Italia to his palmarès.
The Frecce Tricolori – Italy’s version of the Red Arrows – trailed red, white and green smoke across the sky as the peloton entered Trieste, the third time that the Adriatic city has hosted the final stage of the race.
Reaction to follow