Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) was the first rather than the last to be called onto the final podium of the 2017 Giro d'Italia in Milan on Sunday and had to accept third place overall behind Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar). He failed to win a third pink jersey but finished on the final podium for the fifth time in his last five appearances at the race. He has collected nine podium finishes in the last 13 Grand Tours he has ridden.
Dumoulin out-gunned both Nibali and Quintana for the top step of the podium in the final 29.3km time trial, with the Sicilian losing 54 seconds to the Dutchman on the road to Milan. He beat Quintana by 30 seconds in the time trial but finished nine seconds down on the Colombian after 21 stages of intense racing.
Nibali appeared relaxed and ease during the whole of the Giro d'Italia and was of the same demeanour after the podium ceremony. He can be stern and moody when not on form but he feels he did the best he could in this year's Giro d'Italia.
"I wanted to finish on the top step of the podium but I've no regrets because I gave my very best," he said after also taking his daughter on the podium to collect the Trofeo Bonacossa for his aggressive racing and stage victory in Bormio.
"This is an important podium and an important result for me. I always expect more from myself but I think I did my best."
Dumoulin 'totally deserved to win'
Nibali rode to win but accepted defeat at the hands and legs of Dumoulin. He congratulated the Dutchman despite their tense exchange after the stage to Ortisei when the Dumoulin said he hoped Nibali and Quintana would finish off the podium.
"I rode to win the Giro d'Italia, not just finish on the podium in Milan. I gave it everything and I think people saw that," Nibali said.
"I took some risks to try to blow open the race but the odds were against me. I was up against two very strong riders like Quintana – one of the strongest climbers out there – and Dumoulin, one of the best time trailists out there who knows how to defend the time he gains against the clock.
"The time trials were the key to his year's Giro d'Italia. That helped Tom. But he was the strongest and came out on top. He totally deserved to win the Giro d'Italia."
Making a quick analysis of his race, Nibali accepted that he lost too much time to his rivals on the mountain finish to Blockhaus and Oropa. He is more suited to a hard fight in the mountains rather than finishes decided on a single climb to the line.
"It's never easy to race day after day, always being ready for anything. We've all got strengths and weaknesses and they emerged during the three weeks of intense racing," Nibali explained.
"I had some good days but also some difficult days. The worst were the finish to Blockhaus and Oropa when I lost some time, perhaps too much time. They were key stages for me. I didn't have the brute strength on the single climb finishes and I didn't give my best. But as I said, I fought all the way and gave it my best shot. I've no regrets."