Giro d'Italia: The best sprinters of the past 30 years - Gallery
A look back at the victories of Cipollini, Cavendish, Petacchi, McEwan and others
The 2020 Giro d’Italia would have been making its way from Castrovillari to Brindisi on Saturday, with stage 8 largely flat and likely to culminate in a bunch sprint finish.
With no Giro this May – and the possibility of no Giro at all in 2020 – we’re reliving past moments from the corsa rosa as thee race would have rolled by.
With a sprint finish on tap, we take a look at at the top fast finishers from the Giro d’Italia over the past 30 years.
Leading the way, by some margin, is Mario Cipollini, who collected a massive 42 Giro stages over the course of his career. After taking his first in 1989, he continued to win year after year, with two in 1990, three in 1991 and four in 1992. After a two-year absence, he returned in 1995 to win two stages, followed by four in 1996, five in 1997 and, four in 1998 and 1999. There was just the one in 2000, before four more in 2001 and his record haul of six in 2002. His last two wins came in 2003.
Cipollini dominated the 1990s, leaving slim pickings for the rest. Among those forced to feed off the scraps were his fellow Italian Ivan Quaranta, who picked up six wins and a host of podium finishes, and Jan Svorada and Adriano Baffi, with five wins each.
The Cipollini era was followed by the Alessandro Petacchi era, with the rangy Italian clocking up some 22 wins between 2003 and 2011. He’d tell you it was 27, but his 2007 results were scrubbed from his palmares due to his high salbutamol case.
While Cipollini left most others in his shadow, there was one rider who managed to grab a considerable slice of the pie during the Petacchi years. Robbie McEwan, the compact Australian, won his first Giro stage in 2002 and managed to clock up 11 more. He had a tough time in 2004 as Petacchi won a whopping nine stages, but came back to win three times in 2005 and 2006.
Thee end of the Petacchi years overlapped with the emergence of Mark Cavendish. As we wrote about last week, Petacchi beat Cavendish on stage 2 of the 2009 Giro in their first major meeting, and again on the corresponding stage of the 2011 edition. The pair would go on to be teammates but back then they were rivals and Petacchi showed he still had an edge on the young Manxman.
Cavendish went on to win three stages in 2009, before collecting two in 2011 and 2012. His best haul came in 2013, where he dominated with five wins, but it was his last appearance, leaving his Giro d'Italia tally on 15.
In recent years, there hasn’t been such a leading figure in May. Marcel Kittel dominated the early stages in 2014 and 2016 before leaving the race to focus on the Tour de France. Andre Greipel, who won his first Giro stage in 2008, won three times in 2016 on his way to a total of seven stages, and Nacer Bouhanni even managed a hat-trick in 2014. 2017 was all about Fernando Gaviria, who won four stages on his scintillating Grand Tour debut, while 2018 saw a captivating battle between Elia Viviani and Sam Bennett. Last year Pascal Ackermann emerged, on the roads of Italy, winning two stages and the points jersey.
Click or swipe through the gallery above for a full selection of photos of the best sprinting moments of the past 30 years.
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Deputy Editor. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2022 he has been Deputy Editor, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.
By Barry Ryan