Danilo Di Luca has done it. He secured his first win in the Giro d'Italia with just under two minutes on runner-up Andy Schleck after the penultimate stage. Over the three weeks, from Caprera to Milano, 'The Killer' dominated his opposition to achieve a deserving victory. On the eve of the final stage, when in all likelihood the 31 year-old from Abruzzo will be fitted with the final Maglia Rosa on Corso Venezia, Di Luca spoke with Cyclingnews' Jean-François Quénet.
"It means everything for me," said Di Luca, reflecting on the Giro overall and the fist-pumping in the final metres before the line in Verona. The Liquigas captain had secured his victory in the Giro during the 43-kilometre time trial and turned back towards the team car to express his enthusiasm. "Since I've started with this wonderful sport when I was 8 years-old I've worked for this precise goal, and now I've achieved it - winning the Giro d'Italia. Especially for me as an Italian it's the best target to reach."
Di Luca, from the region of Abruzzo, became the first of the Giro's 64 Italian winners come from south of Tuscany.
Many people doubted his chances of winning the Giro, believing that 2005's near podium finish was more chance than anything else and that 2006 showed he could not contend in the Italian three-week race. Instead, like the Classics before, he came back to prove the pundits wrong. "Only a few people believed that I'd be able to win the Classics and the Giro, and I have now demonstrated that I was right to believe in myself and to keep thinking that I could do it.
"I've won it. I had desired this win so much. It gives me an enormous joy. There's nothing that needs to be said to my detractors."
There were key passages in this year's Corsa Rosa where Di Luca was put on the rivet; he survived and in some cases excelled. "Briançon and Zoncolan," he noted as his best and worst stages. "Briançon because I'd won it so easily and Zoncolan because I'd suffered a lot."
To read the full interview, click here.