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Gallery: Giro d'Italia final stage gets underway in Gemona

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Nairo Quintana and Movistar boss Eusebio Unzue

Nairo Quintana and Movistar boss Eusebio Unzue
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Nairo Quintana and Fabio Aru

Nairo Quintana and Fabio Aru
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Nairo Quintana is congratulated by his Colombian compatriot

Nairo Quintana is congratulated by his Colombian compatriot
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The media swarm the jersey holders

The media swarm the jersey holders
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Fabio Aru celebrates with team manager Giuseppe Martinelli

Fabio Aru celebrates with team manager Giuseppe Martinelli
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The riders head to the start for the final Giro d'Italia stage

The riders head to the start for the final Giro d'Italia stage
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Movistar riders at the start

Movistar riders at the start
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Nairo Quintana (Movistar) gets signed on for the final stage

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) gets signed on for the final stage
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Fabio Aru and Francesco Bongiorno

Fabio Aru and Francesco Bongiorno
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Rigoberto Uran ready for the final day

Rigoberto Uran ready for the final day
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Juilan Arredondo, Nacer Bouhanni, Nairo Quintana and Fabio Aru, the jerseys of the 2014 Giro d'Italia

Juilan Arredondo, Nacer Bouhanni, Nairo Quintana and Fabio Aru, the jerseys of the 2014 Giro d'Italia
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale) celebrates starting the final stage with two big thumbs up

Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale) celebrates starting the final stage with two big thumbs up
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Nairo Quintana (Movistar) clad head to toe in pink

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) clad head to toe in pink
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The last big bunch of balloons is set loose in Gemona

The last big bunch of balloons is set loose in Gemona
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Luca Paolini is ready for a fast stage

Luca Paolini is ready for a fast stage
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Domenico Pozzovivo signs on

Domenico Pozzovivo signs on
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Paolo Tiralongo and Fabio Aru at the start

Paolo Tiralongo and Fabio Aru at the start
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Nairo Quintana (Movistar)

Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Nairo Quintana signs on for the final Giro stage

Nairo Quintana signs on for the final Giro stage
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Orica GreenEdge found someone big enough to wear all the numbers of their DNF's

Orica GreenEdge found someone big enough to wear all the numbers of their DNF's
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The Lotto Belisol team is presented

The Lotto Belisol team is presented
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The start in Gemona

The start in Gemona
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Nairo Quintana meets the press

Nairo Quintana meets the press
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

After taking a beating over the past three weeks, the peloton of the Giro d'Italia - 156 men strong - set off from Gemona toward the final sprint in Trieste with the pink-clad Nairo Quintana and his Movistar team leading the way.

It was a time to celebrate survival, and to reflect on the long journey from the rainy, crash-sullied opening stages in Belfast to the nosebleed altitudes of the final week. From the rain in Ireland to the snow of the Stelvio, they end in sunshine on the last day.

Quintana is set to make history as the first Colombian winner of the race, while the young riders who fill the other jersey classifications - Fabio Aru (Astana) as (second) best young rider, Julian Arredondo (Trek) as top climber, and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) - all of them under 26 years of age - together signal a changing of the guard.

Enjoy this gallery from the start of stage 21.