Vincenzo Nibali, crowned the 2013 Giro d’Italia champion this afternoon in Brescia, has said that his victory in his home Grand Tour is the fulfilment of a dream, while Mark Cavendish, who today became the fifth cyclist to win the points jerseys in all three Grand Tours, has thanked the “gentlemen” of the peloton who allowed him to take today’s two intermediate sprints ahead of his winning his fifth stage in this year’s race.
“Today has been a day of many emotions,” said Nibali after being presented with the Giro’s striking Trofeo Senza Fine [Endless Trophy].
“All along 200km of the stage, it was spectacular for the crowds along the road: it was inexplicable, incredible, and a great pleasure for me and all of Italian cycling," he continued.
The Sicilian acknowledged the role played by his team manager Silvio Martinelli in helping ensure he came to the Giro in the best possible shape – victories over Chris Froome at Tirreno Adriatico and Sir Bradley Wiggins at the Giro del Trentino made Nibali the pre-Giro favourite.
"Martinelli was the one who wanted me to come to Astana this season, and he has supported me with so much this year.
“I have been able to race and train with maximum support, and as with very little stress. I just try to work well, day after day.
“And that’s how I rode the Giro: I took it day by day, giving my best, and in the end I have realised my dream," he added.
Joining him on the podium was Astana’s general manager, reigning Olympic road champion Alexandre Vinokourov, who said: "Nibali worked harder than anybody to prepare for the Giro, and we set out to accomplish this goal together with him when he came on to Astana Pro Team.
“Today is the end of a long process that began back in December with mechanics and soigneurs and all of our management staff.
“We sat down, we planned the training and the races, and we reviewed our goals constantly.
“Thanks to the people at the Kazakh Cycling, starting with Vice President Darkhan Amanovich Kaletaev, and also our sponsor Nurlan Erkebulanovich Smagulov at Astana Motors, we have been able to follow our programme and let Vincenzo follow his dream," added Vinokourov.
Mark Cavendish wins in Brescia (picture RCS Sport)
Cavendish took maximum points at today’s two intermediate sprints to overhaul Nibali at the top of the points standings before holding off Sacha Modolo of Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox to take his fifth stage win of this year’s race.
Following his victory, he said: "I'm so, so happy. It couldn't have been any closer on the last day. Everyone knew I was going for the intermediate sprints. I'm lucky, the peloton is full of gentlemen that were content to let me fight for the red jersey.
“Nibali could have fought for it, but he was content to go for the maglia rosa. I'm also lucky the team rode hard all day. Then there were the two intermediate sprints and because they changed the distance, adding about 10 kilometers, we didn't know what lap we were sprinting for. So I was sprinting for about three laps.
"But then we took control again on the windy, windy circuit.” Paying tribute to his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team mates, he went on:
"The guys like Jerome Pineau, Julien Vermote, Gianluca Brambilla, Serge Pauwels and Michal Golas had to use up energy on the front. Other teams came up quick on us in the last kilometres, but we didn't panic.”
Cavendish’s slow-motion recall of sprint finishes is remarkable, and today proved no exception.
“In the final Matteo waited behind Viviani,” he explained. “He went just at the right time into a headwind finish. Then Modolo went and it was a bit too early, so I just started out at about 80 or 90 percent and kept building up speed.
“I'm really happy with this win. Especially with this group here, riding together in a grand tour for the first time. We had success immediately and we kept up such great morale. It shows in the results. Everyone just went until their legs couldn't go any more. All you can do when that happens is to just win.
"What keeps me always motivated is I just want to win," he added. "I've always just wanted to win, I've been addicted to it since I was a child. Just wanting to win brings the best out of everyone. Especially when you have a team built around you, you have to deliver 100 per cent.
“That's what I try to do. If someone comes along who is faster, I'll go home, work harder, and come back faster the next year. It's as simple as this."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.