After taking a beating over the past three weeks, the peloton of the Giro d'Italia - 156 men strong - set off from Gemona toward the final sprint in Trieste with the pink-clad Nairo Quintana and his Movistar team leading the way.
It was a time to celebrate survival, and to reflect on the long journey from the rainy, crash-sullied opening stages in Belfast to the nosebleed altitudes of the final week. From the rain in Ireland to the snow of the Stelvio, they end in sunshine on the last day.
Quintana is set to make history as the first Colombian winner of the race, while the young riders who fill the other jersey classifications - Fabio Aru (Astana) as (second) best young rider, Julian Arredondo (Trek) as top climber, and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) - all of them under 26 years of age - together signal a changing of the guard.
Enjoy this gallery from the start of stage 21.