From understudy to runner-up
Team Sky came to the Giro d'Italia with the goal of winning the pink jersey with Bradley Wiggins but had to be satisfied with two stage victories, second place overall and the team prize in Brescia.
The wheels came off Wiggins' chances early in the Giro d'Italia when he crashed in the rain on the testing descent to Pescara on stage 7. He never recovered, under-performed in the time trial and eventually headed home before stage 13 after being hit by a worsening cold and chest infection.
Rigoberto Urán had been designated as Wiggins' understudy and he stepped up to fill the Briton's big shoes, confirming his own ability to challenge for hard-fought Grand Tours. Unfortunately for Team Sky the tough and aggressive Colombian will likely ride in Omega Pharma-Quick-Step in 2014.
Urán rarely shows his true emotions but was happy to climb onto the final podium in Brescia, his first adopted home when he turned professional in Europe with the Tenax team at just 19.
"We're really happy with what we've achieved. I think second place is very important for me and for Team Sky," he said after the team filled the podium and came away with several tins of tuna from the team prize sponsor.
"I came into the Giro in good form, ready to work but on form. After what happened to Brad things changed but the team put their faith in me and helped me. I think we ended the race well.
"Finishing second behind such a strong Nibali is a significant result. He's really strong and was in perfect form. He deserved to win this Giro."
Team Sky finished 4:29 ahead of Astana and 7:27 ahead of Movistar in the team classification based on time. Movistar beat them by four points to win the points-based team prize, while Cannondale topped the fair play team award, with Team Sky finishing eighth.
The British team arrived in Naples three weeks ago with lofty ambitions and little experience of targeting the Giro d'Italia. They failed to win overall but no doubt learnt a lot for any future assault on the pink jersey.
"The strength of the team has really shone through," directeur sportif Marcus Ljungqvist said on the team's website.
"We can’t be anything but really happy with second place, the team prize and two stage victories. The pink jersey will have to wait for another time, but at the end of the day the strongest rider won the race. Congratulations to Vincenzo from the whole team. It was a well-deserved win, but for us second place is a big achievement having lost Brad early on."
“It turned out to be a really hard race with the weather, but still a nice race. With Rigo he managed to not have any bad days. He was able to maintain his level whilst some guys went down a bit. That made the difference. The team prize is really nice for the guys. That’s something we began to look at later on in the race when it came within reach. So it’s great to be able to take it.”