Prior to being welcomed at the Spanish consulate in Milan on Sunday evening and flying back to Madrid at lunch time on Monday, Alberto Contador spoke to the media for the last time near the Piazza del Duomo.
"People might think this has been an easy win but it wasn't," the Spaniard said. "It has required a lot of work and it brings an unforgettable emotion. I've had some difficult times during the first week, as I didn't know exactly the state of my form and where the other riders were standing."
Contador became the second Spaniard to win the Giro d'Italia twice, like Miguel Indurain did in 1992 and 1993. Asked to compare his two wins, the three-time Tour de France champion said they were very different ones. "In 2008, I did this race without wanting to do it. I was obliged by the team to do it for my sponsor (Astana) and I thought I'd ride for one week only," he said. "With the nice results I got, I stayed and happened to win it but I suffered a lot during that Giro.
"This year, I came with a totally different condition. I did the Giro with the proper approach and clear objectives. I went to reconnoitre the important stages. I was 100 per cent focused on winning.
"Today I'm totally satisfied with the job being well done, but the 2008 Giro remains the most beautiful of all my Grand Tour wins in my memory."
Contador has now six Grand Tour victories under his belt with three in the Tour de France, two at the Giro and one Vuelta. "Last year's Tour de France is mine," he firmly answered to a reporter who suggested that CAS might take the title away from him. "Nobody can take it out.
"I want to savour this win at the Giro," he insisted when questioned about riding the Tour de France in one month from now. "I'll discuss with my team management about the Tour. Firstly, I have to recover from the Giro."