The Giro culminated this past weekend with an absolute domination by Colombian riders with the diminutive Nairo Quintana (Movistar) making his mark as the first Colombian to win the Giro, and only the second to win a grand tour. He was not alone though as Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) came in second and Morneo Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing) won the climbers jersey.
As is usually the case, the Giro was run under ridiculous conditions along often dangerous routes, pushing riders and their machines well beyond any measure of sanity and safety. It is often a race of attrition where riders are not so much vying for the win, but are just trying to survive. And with all due respects to the winners, the real unsung heroes are those scrapping to finish and fight for the Maglia Negra, the Italian version of the Lanterne Rouge.
Nothing illustrates this more than the “epic” tour Orica Greenedge experienced where after early success wearing the Maglia Rosa, its ranks were depleted down to just two riders; Michael Hepburn and Svein Tufts, curiously two of their weakest climbers, on a course littered with climbs “beyond categorization”.
Michael Hepburn best summed up the race before taking on stage 20 and the menacing Monte Zoncolan with it’s 20+ percent gradients, by saying “…it’s little bit like the (movie) Titanic…it started off as a new experience … everyone was pretty excited…and then it slowly sort of turned to shit…at the end there were only dos hombres left”.
But don’t take my word for it. Watch Orica Greenedge’s backstage pass of what life is like on the Zoncolan for it’s last two, and last placed riders of the day…Aussie style.
Congrats to the winners and chapeau to all the survivors of il Giro. Now start the countdown for La Grande Boucle, Allez! Allez!