After three bunch sprints and two time trials, Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Androni Giocattoli) has taken the Giro d'Italia's first solo breakaway win of 2012, as well as Colombia's first victory in six years in Italy's top stage race.
For Rubiano, raising his arms in the long finishing straight at Porto Sant'ElPidio also represents a breakthrough on other levels. At 27, this is the biggest win of his career by a long way, with his most important previous victory a stage at Argentina's Tour de San Luis in 2011.
The reason for that gap in high-level results is that after his first two years as a fully fledged pro in Ceramiche Panaria-Navigare, 2006 and 2007, Rubiano found himself back racing at the Continental level.
"That's why I'm so grateful to Gianni Savio and Androni Giocattoli for giving me a chance to get back into real racing," said Rubiano.
But barring a handful of results, 2008 to 2011 will remain ‘lost years' in Rubiano's career.
Born in Bogota in a poor area of the city, Rubiano started racing at eight when his father, an electrician, gave him a bike. After rising through the ranks of Colombian cycling, the Panaria squad, which used to have several South Americans in their books, gave him his first professional contract. He rode and completed the Giro for them in his first year. "I was less of a climber back then than I am now, though," he said during today's winner's press conference, "but I got through all the same."
He has lived all over Italy since 2006 - Bergamo, Parma, Reggio Emilia and Parma - and said that knowing the terrain today beforehand was a huge advantage.
"I did know these routes, and I thought the bunch would catch us on the Montegranaro, which is why I attacked there. And then Gianni [Savio] was there in the team car, encouraging me, and that helped."
There has never been a Colombian leader of the Giro, and Rubiano says that was his one regret. If the team had not waited for leader Jose Rujano during the team time trial, he would be wearing pink today.
However, with just 30 seconds between himself and race leader Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD), tomorrow, on the mountain top finish of the Rocca di Cambio, Rubiano has a great opportunity to give Colombian fans a second big triumph in two days.
"There is no change of leader in the team," said team director Gianni Savio, "but we will see what happens tomorrow. Miguel Angel isn't a climber for long mountain ascents, but Rocca di Cambio should be good for him."
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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