By Jean-François Quénet in Milan
Danilo Di Luca might win another Giro, but he knows that if he does, he will never feel the same passion as he has this year during his first, so he did his best to appreciate every moment of celebration between Vestone and Milan. "It's been fabulous," he explained. "I've thought of all the people who yelled my name and all the people who have helped me in my cycling career since I started at the age of 8. I wanted to reach Milan as fast as possible. I had in mind the tifosi and all my friends and relatives who were waiting for me here."
Di Luca was pleased that the 90th Giro d'Italia proved to be one of the more well attended editions of the race. "The race has demonstrated to be beloved again, maybe not as much as when Pantani won it, but almost. Cycling is back at that level of popularity. It's important for us, for our cycling world, for you, the media…"
The press service of RCS Sport, the Giro organisers, issued a statement giving figures that demonstrate the extent of the popularity of this year's Tour of Italy. The race was followed by 980 accredited journalists, which is 78 more than last year. The majority of the media were from Italy, and this showed with Italian television shares up to 40% (31.58% on Saturday for the time trial, which represented 3.5 millions viewers on RAI).
Anecdotally, the crowds along the route were the biggest in the past few years, despite the gloom and doom news reports about doping scandals hurting the interest in cycling. Di Luca never lost faith that the tifosi would continue to love the sport. "I never doubted about the popularity of cycling," he said.
'The Killer' will return next year as the defending champion, but doesn't see the Tour de France as a goal in the near future. "Not being a time triallist, it would be harder for me to win the Tour de France. I won't do it this year, neither next year, but I'll try, probably in 2009."