Well, after the final TT burn-up into Milan, Alberto Contador managed to scrawl his name into the record books, nailing the Giro at his first attempt. The Astana kingpin comfortably stretched his lead over Ricardo Ricco as one of the most exciting Grand Tours for a generation climaxed in Milano.
Contador never came close to the stage win which means he joins the club that the old-timers used to mock. How can you win a big tour without taking at least one stage along the way? Tsk, tsk! Well, he had the joy of punching the air as he glided home in 11th, knowing the maglia rosa was in the bag.
Ricco never even came close on Sunday…
The Tour de France has a lot to live up to after this last three weeks of mountain mayhem, tight time trials and miniscule margins.
The final 28.5kms of this Giro were downhill all the way, and barring a few corners, practically all straight lines. A lot of people were asking if there was enough distance for Marzio Bruseghin to stamp two minutes plus out of Contador and Ricco, to snatch the overall. Hmmmm…
Bruseghin came nowhere near Contador’s top spot, but he did swipe Pello’s spot on the podium.
Certainly, Bruss looked pretty relaxed sporting a nice off-the-shoulder skinsuit on the start ramp as he waited for someone to fix his radio. By the time he finished, his fans had their hands over their donkey ears as they watched Pellizotti come within two seconds of pushing their hero off the podium.
The fans were roaring Ricco on, especially as they lined the barriers coming towards the finish, but the damage had been done out on the course. His victory hopes had disappeared and it was no trick of perspective – he’d just run out of juice and the gap stretched more and more. In the end, Contador put nearly two minutes into him.
It was a big day for High Road, nailing a fourth stage win in this Giro – courtesy of a storming ride from home favorite Marco Pinotti. They placed Pinotti first, Martin second and Wiggins fourth on the day. With Slipstream sticking Vande Velde in fifth and Pate in sixth, a pretty encouraging day all round.
It was heartening to see that the names who’d been animating the race were producing TT rides like they’d been slaying themselves for three weeks, rather than miraculously blasting the field. You can read into that comment what you wish.
Di Luca was a mere shell of the Killer we saw two days ago on the Monte Pora.
Rather than recording results that stretched credibility, the placings on the stage for the top ten overall starters were:
Contador 11th; Ricco 68th; Bruseghin 28th; Pellizotti 27th; Sella 71st; Menchov 25th; Di Luca 112th; Van den Broeck 79th; Pozzovivo 100th; Simoni 135th.
The Accountant had things well in hand all day and took home his first Maglia Rosa with ease.
Of course, some had little to ride for and some might have lost interest a bit, but still… We had a little wave of the hand from Di Luca as he finished well down, suggesting that he knew his best shot on Friday hadn’t quite delivered the knock-out he hoped for.
Paolo Bettini cruised over the line, giving a two-handed salute and waving what looked distinctly like goodbye to the Giro tifosi. He got a huge ovation and had his own personal ‘daily distraction’ waiting for him as he finished.
It wasn’t just about the pink jersey for some: Emmanuele Sella had the maglia verde stitched up long ago with his mountain exploits, while Daniele Bennati took the maglia ciclamino as points winner with clear daylight between him and any challengers.
Ricco took the white jersey as best young rider, but that maglia blanca won’t be sitting too comfortably on his shoulders. As runner-up, he knows that the pink jersey was within reach. Maybe a little less conversation, a little more action next year might seal the deal?
This being the Giro, there were a plethora of fairly unfathomable classifications, so here is a list. The daily ‘Combativity’ prize is particularly objective: a (usually) foreign rider can spend 200kms off the front alone, only to get caught on the line and see that day’s award go to a sprinter…at least the final one went to Sella.
Expo Milano 2015 – Fortunato Baliani (Ita) CSF Group Navigare
Combativity – Emmanuele Sella (Ita) CSF Group Navigare
Azzurri d’ Italia – Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
Fuga Cervelo – Fortunato Baliani (Ita) CSF Group Navigare
Fast Team – CSF Group Navigare
Super Team – Liquigas
Fair Play – Lampre
The Pez award for revelation of the race goes to Emmanuele Sella, picked out by our man Jered back in our big race preview – how many of you followed his sage words by sticking a few Euros on Sella for the mountains?
An award of sorts, too, should go to the man with the most irritating job in the Giro – blowing that f***ing whistle every time a rider crossed the finishing line in the TT. Cool your jets, man! We can all see them!
All in all, it was a belter of a race, going to the wire, but that’s not quite all from our Giro coverage. Ed will check in from roadside, and you can catch all the feedback and fallout in Eurotrash. Keep it Pez, you know it makes sense.
Stage 21 Result, Cesano Maderno – Milano, 28.5km
1 Marco Pinotti (Ita) High Road 32′ 45″
2 Tony Martin (Ger) High Road + 7″
3 Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Tinkoff + 10″
4 Bradley Wiggins (GB) High Road + 13″
5 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Slipstream + 22″
6 Danny Pate (USA) Slipstream + 24″
7 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas same time
8 Steven Cummings (GB) Barloworld same time
9 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Astana + 31″
10 Jens Voigt (Ger) CSC + 33″
Final Giro Classification
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana 89hrs 56′ 49″
2 Riccardo Ricco (Ita) Saunier Duval + 1′ 57″
3 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre + 2′ 54″
4 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas + 2′ 56″
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank + 3′ 37″
6 Emmanuele Sella (Ita) CSF Group Navigare + 4′ 31″
7 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence-Lotto + 6’30”
8 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR + 7′ 15″
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) CSF Group Navigare + 7′ 53″
10 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Diquigiovanni + 11′ 03″