Winners and losers from Italy
So the Giro d'Italia finished with the result that everyone could see coming, final GC honours for the home favourite Vincenzo Nibali and another Mark Cavendish sprint win to go with his four previous ones.
It's quite remarkable that given five chances of a stage victory the Manxman won five times but with that kind of success rate it's easy to understand why he has the whole Omega Pharma team dedicated to his cause. When Cavendish is in top form, like he was here, then other teams must weep into their road-books at the suggestion of a bunch kick.
The pink jersey battle was always looking like it was going to be Nibali versus nature as each of his pre-race rivals gradually succumbed to the conditions or the topography and fell by the wayside. For someone who supposedly turned up for training, Cadel Evans did even better and until the final weekend he was looking quite solid. That's a term which suits Rigoberto Uran perfectly: is he the toughest Colombian cyclist we've ever seen? Probably.
Given the ridiculously cold weather at this Giro it's a bit ironic that the GC podium is made up of a Sicilian, a Colombian and an Australian. All rather hot places.
Carlos Betancur and Rafael Majka had a great fight for the young riders classification but the more aggressive of the two secured the white jersey which is quite fitting as the Italian race tends to favour an attacking style. Which brings me to Stefano Pirazzi who took the climbers prize. If ever there was to be a jack-in-the-box prize for the most annoying, upsetting, non-rhythmic way to get up a hill then the Bardiani rider has that award all to himself. I doubt Sky will be knocking on his door if they are looking for a new climber to set the tempo.
Set against the successes of guys like Nibali, Visconti and Pirazzi you have the relative disappointments of Scarponi and Pozzovivio both of whom never really had any great influence on the race. The Lampre rider showed some glimpses of what could have been now and then but it wasn't anything memorable and little Pozzovivio got overshadowed by his Colombian twin, Betancur. Maybe if it had been sunny and warm things would have been different for them but then that applies to a lot of others also.
I wonder how long it's been if ever, that not one French, Belgian rider or Dutch rider won a stage in the Giro? Or even more shocking for the first two, placed a rider in the top twenty of the final GC. At least Lotto had a stage win with Adam Hansen and Argos Shimano with John Degenkolb to save their respective skins from a proper roasting.
Mitigating circumstances for Vacansoleil and Blanco as they at least put guys in the breaks when they could and Kelderman was near the front in the young rider’s classification but FDJ were invisible most of the time. For a WorldTour team their performances and results were dire.
So the five star teams from this years Giro will be Astana, Omega Pharma, Movistar and Bardiani.
Four stars go to Sky, Ag2R and Katusha.
Three stars for BMC, Lampre, Lotto Bellisol and Argos Shimano.
Two star performances from Garmin Sharp, Blanco, Colombia, Euskaltel, Radioshack, Saxo Tinkoff and Vacansoleil.
And one star goes to Androni, Cannondale, FDJ, Orica Greenedge and Vini Fantini.
It wasn't a great Giro because it was never a thrilling contest between the main riders but it will be remembered for the epic weather conditions. And the photo best suited to show that has to be of Vincenzo Nibali in the leader’s jersey on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo in the blizzard, that's the historical image.
- Robert Millar
Robert Millar was one of the last pure climbers of the Tour de France, winning several stages in the mountain stages and finishing fourth overall in 1984. He is also the only English speaker to have ever won the prestigious polka-dot jersey climber's competition jersey. Millar retired in 1995 but has continued to follow the sport closely. He was often critical of the media and quickly cuts through the excuses and spin to understand why and how riders win and lose.
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