Shoulder surfing on at least three occasions during the final kilometre yet staying upright in face of the jostling, Giant Shimano’s sprinter Luka Mezgec showed he had the most speed at the end of the Giro d’Italia, jetting to victory in Trieste.

The Slovenian won close to the border between his country and Italy, delighting the supporters who had crossed over to see the finish, as well as those watching on television from home. He showed both skill and nerve in keeping his focus despite some dangerous switching by his rivals, then tore up alongside the right hand barrier to reach the line first.

His gallop overhauled Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin Sharp), while triple stage winner and points jersey victor Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) had to make do with fourth.

Mezgec’s success was the first Grand Tour stage victory of his career and followed on from his Handzame Classic triumph earlier this year plus three stages in the Volta a Catalunya. He said that conserving energy on the tougher days were key to his success today.

“It is a long period, three weeks, and it makes your legs a little bit different,” he said. “But I was saving myself on the mountain stages, on the stages where I cannot do a result, and I can say I put everything on today.

“I have to say I was a little bit under pressure. There were a lot of Slovenians coming here and I was really hoping for this stage that I could do a good result. It cannot be better than this.”

The 172 kilometre stage finished with eight laps of a tough circuit in Trieste, with a climb complicating things for the sprinters. Mezgec said that he and his team knew what to expect and did things correctly. “It was tough but the roads were better and it was not as technical as last year,” the 25 year old said. “The tough thing was only the climb, which was pretty close to the finish. On the climb we all knew that we had to do our best to stay in the front. I did it and also in the end I was really fresh in the sprint.”

Maglia Rosa wearer Nairo Quintana finished safely in the main bunch and rolled across the finish line, a broad grin on his face and arm aloft, celebrating the moment. It marked his first Grand Tour win and came after he dominated the final week of the race.

He was warmly embraced by his team afterwards and was also congratulated by his wife and child. It was, he said, a huge moment for him.

“It is very difficult to explain how much happiness is inside me. It is one of the happiest days of my life,” he smiled. “Thanks to my family, thanks to my team and thanks to all the Colombians. It is great that this dream is possible.”

The final stage started slowly but then a number of attacks were fired off. Belkin’s Maarten Tjallingii and Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEDGE) got clear and went across the day’s early climb in that order, then were hauled back by the peloton.

Quintana’s Movistar team set the pace and brought the riders onto the finishing circuit, where they would complete eight laps of seven kilometres. Tuft had another go before the end of the second lap, leaping away with Lotto Belisol’s Lars Bak and opening a 45 second gap. This was reduced somewhat by Sky’s Philip Deignan but the duo remained away for the intermediate sprint, where Bak took first ahead of Tuft and Bouhanni jumped out of the podium for third.

Cannondale took up the pace and together with Colombia, they reduced the gap to fifteen seconds with 21 kilometres to go. Astana’s Valerio Agnoli and Stefano Pirazzi of Bardiani jumped away, were joined by Carlos Quintero (Colombia) and bridged to the two leaders by the top.

The five riders were ten seconds ahead crossing the line but the bunch ramped up the pace and reeled them in.

After the next ascent of the climb, Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEdge) slipped away in a short-lived move. After they were hauled back, the peloton raced onto the final lap where Lotto Belisol’s Adam Hansen jumped hard on the climb.

He was closed down and then BMC Racing Team’s Daniel Oss tried his luck on the descent. He opened up a lead of several seconds. The sprinters were not to be denied, though, and brought him back just before the kite, thus paving the way for a bunch gallop and Mezgec’s success.

The result completed a fine showing by the team, which also took two early stages wins in Ireland with Marcel Kittel prior to his withdrawal due to illness.

As for Quintana, his victory was only the second ever Grand Tour win by a Colombian. It came 27 years after Lucho Herrera won the 1987 Vuelta a España and many believe it will be followed by more from the country’s new climbing star.

Giro d'Italia

Stage 21

: Gemona del Friuli > Trieste

Sunday 1st June (2014)

Classification: 2.UWT

Category: Int. Men

Distance: 172km


Stage Result

1. si
MEZGEC Luka
Team Giant-Shimano
04:23:58
2. it
NIZZOLO Giacomo
Trek Factory Racing
-
3. us
FARRAR Tyler
Garmin Sharp
-
4. fr
BOUHANNI Nacer
FDJ.fr
-
5. it
FERRARI Roberto
Lampre-Merida
-
6. co
DUQUE Leonardo
Team Colombia
-
7. it
PAOLINI Luca
Team Katusha
-
8. be
VAN DER SANDE Tosh
Lotto Belisol
-
9. si
BOZIC Borut
Astana Pro Team
-
10. be
KEISSE Iljo
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
-
11. it
BATTAGLIN Enrico
Bardiani - CSF
-
12. it
MONTAGUTI Matteo
AG2R La Mondiale
-
13. it
COLBRELLI Sonny
Bardiani - CSF
-
14. it
CANOLA Marco
Bardiani - CSF
-
15. at
PREIDLER Georg
Team Giant-Shimano
-
16. gb
SWIFT Ben
Team Sky
-
17. nl
VAN EMDEN Jos
Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
-
18. fr
VUILLERMOZ Alexis
AG2R La Mondiale
-
19. de
GRETSCH Patrick
AG2R La Mondiale
-
20. it
VIVIANI Elia
Cannondale
-
21. fr
CHAVANEL Sébastien
FDJ.fr
-
22. it
BARBIN Enrico
Bardiani - CSF
-
23. nl
KELDERMAN Wilco
Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
-
24. nl
TJALLINGII Maarten
Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
-
25. pl
MAJKA Rafal
Tinkoff-Saxo
-
26. ru
GUSEV Vladimir
Team Katusha
-
27. it
GATTO Oscar
Cannondale
-
28. co
URAN Rigoberto
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
-
29. nl
VEELERS Tom
Team Giant-Shimano
-
30. au
EVANS Cadel
BMC Racing Team
-
31. fr
BéRARD Julien
AG2R La Mondiale
-
32. it
POZZOVIVO Domenico
AG2R La Mondiale
-
33. it
ARU Fabio
Astana Pro Team
0:09
34. es
SáNCHEZ Samuel
BMC Racing Team
-
35. be
VERMOTE Julien
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
-
36. it
QUINZIATO Manuel
BMC Racing Team
-
37. it
BRAMBILLA Gianluca
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
-
38. it
CATALDO Dario
Team Sky
-
39. ch
WYSS Danilo
BMC Racing Team
-
40. be
PAUWELS Serge
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
-
41. au
TANNER David
Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
-
42. co
HENAO GOMEZ Sebastian
Team Sky
-
43. hr
KISERLOVSKI Robert
Trek Factory Racing
-
44. it
CUNEGO Damiano
Lampre-Merida
-
45. es
MORENO Daniel
Team Katusha
-
46. fr
ROLLAND Pierre
Team Europcar
-
47. it
TIRALONGO Paolo
Astana Pro Team
-
48. be
MONFORT Maxime
Lotto Belisol
-
49. it
GASPAROTTO Enrico
Astana Pro Team
-
50. ru
VORGANOV Eduard
Team Katusha
-
51. it
RATTO Daniele
Cannondale
-
52. jp
ARASHIRO Yukiya
Team Europcar
-
53. fr
GENIEZ Alexandre
FDJ.fr
-
54. si
POLANC Jan
Lampre-Merida
-
55. it
PUCCIO Salvatore
Team Sky
-
56. ve
RODRIGUEZ Jackson
Androni Giocattoli - Venezuela
-
57. ie
ROCHE Nicolas
Tinkoff-Saxo
-
58. au
MCCARTHY Jay
Tinkoff-Saxo
-
59. ru
ROVNY Ivan
Tinkoff-Saxo
-
60. be
DE BACKER Bert
Team Giant-Shimano
-
61. nl
VAN POPPEL Boy
Trek Factory Racing
-
62. au
HAAS Nathan
Garmin Sharp
-
63. ca
HESJEDAL Ryder
Garmin Sharp
-
64. pt
CARDOSO André
Garmin Sharp
-
65. de
GESCHKE Simon
Team Giant-Shimano
-
66. nl
GOOS Marc
Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
-
67. fr
DOMONT Axel
AG2R La Mondiale
-
68. nl
KEIZER Martijn
Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
-
69. es
LANDA Mikel
Astana Pro Team
-
70. nl
TIMMER Albert
Team Giant-Shimano
-
71. it
MALACARNE Davide
Team Europcar
-
72. au
SUTTON Chris
Team Sky
-
73. it
FRAPPORTI Marco
Androni Giocattoli - Venezuela
-
74. ve
MONSALVE Yonathan
Neri Sottoli
-
75. be
HERMANS Ben
BMC Racing Team
-
76. co
RUBIANO Miguel Angel
Team Colombia
-
77. it
PELLIZOTTI Franco
Androni Giocattoli - Venezuela
-
78. fr
LE BON Johan
FDJ.fr
-
79. jp
BEPPU Fumiyuki
Trek Factory Racing
-
80. cr
AMADOR Andrey
Movistar Team
-
81. es
LOSADA Alberto
Team Katusha
-
82. co
QUINTANA Nairo
Movistar Team
-
83. es
VENTOSO Fran
Movistar Team
-
84. es
ANTON Igor
Movistar Team
-
85. ch
MORABITO Steve
BMC Racing Team
-
86. kz
ZEITS Andrey
Astana Pro Team
-
87. es
CASTROVIEJO Jonathan
Movistar Team
-
88. it
BASSO Ivan
Cannondale
-
89. ru
PETROV Evgeni
Tinkoff-Saxo
-
90. it
RABOTTINI Matteo
Neri Sottoli
0:28
91. it
MORI Manuele
Lampre-Merida
-
92. be
DE GENDT Thomas
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
-
93. it
FEDI Andrea
Neri Sottoli
-
94. au
HANSEN Adam
Lotto Belisol
-
95. nl
POELS Wout
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
-
96. es
HERRADA José
Movistar Team
-
97. it
MOSER Moreno
Cannondale
-
98. dk
BAK Lars Ytting
Lotto Belisol
-
99. fr
BOUET Maxime
AG2R La Mondiale
-
100. pl
NIEMIEC Przemyslaw
Lampre-Merida
-
101. pl
POLJANSKI Pawel
Tinkoff-Saxo
-
102. nl
FLENS Rick
Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
-
103. fr
DUPONT Hubert
AG2R La Mondiale
-
104. it
CAPECCHI Eros
Movistar Team
-
105. au
ROGERS Michael
Tinkoff-Saxo
-
106. es
IZAGIRRE Gorka
Movistar Team
-
107. co
ANACONA GOMEZ Winner
Lampre-Merida
-
108. fr
MOUREY Francis
FDJ.fr
-
109. it
PONZI Simone
Neri Sottoli
0:43
110. it
OSS Daniel
BMC Racing Team
0:57
111. be
SERRY Pieter
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
1:06
112. it
ZARDINI Edoardo
Bardiani - CSF
1:18
113. de
KOCH Michel
Cannondale
-
114. it
MARANGONI Alan
Cannondale
-
115. be
ARMéE Sander
Lotto Belisol
-
116. be
DOCKX Gert
Lotto Belisol
-
117. au
HEPBURN Michael
Orica GreenEDGE
-
118. br
FISCHER Murilo Antonio
FDJ.fr
-
119. at
EISEL Bernhard
Team Sky
-
120. us
BOOKWALTER Brent
BMC Racing Team
-
121. nl
STAMSNIJDER Tom
Team Giant-Shimano
-
122. co
ROMERO Jeffry
Team Colombia
-
123. co
DUARTE Fabio
Team Colombia
-
124. ru
BELKOV Maxim
Team Katusha
-
125. ve
GODOY Yonder
Androni Giocattoli - Venezuela
-
126. fi
VEIKKANEN Jussi
FDJ.fr
-
127. fr
QUEMENEUR Perrig
Team Europcar
-
128. nl
HOOGERLAND Johnny
Androni Giocattoli - Venezuela
-
129. it
BOEM Nicola
Bardiani - CSF
1:32
130. at
ZOIDL Riccardo
Trek Factory Racing
1:49
131. de
HONDO Danilo
Trek Factory Racing
-
132. co
ARREDONDO MORENO Julián David
Trek Factory Racing
-
133. co
PANTANO GOMEZ Jarlinson
Team Colombia
-
134. co
CHALAPUD Robinson
Team Colombia
-
135. it
BONO Matteo
Lampre-Merida
1:58
136. it
CATTANEO Mattia
Lampre-Merida
-
137. it
BONGIORNO Francesco Manuel
Bardiani - CSF
-
138. co
TORRES AGUDELO Rodolfo Andres
Team Colombia
-
139. it
ALAFACI Eugenio
Trek Factory Racing
-
140. it
SELLA Emanuele
Androni Giocattoli - Venezuela
-
141. fr
SICARD Romain
Team Europcar
-
142. it
BANDIERA Marco
Androni Giocattoli - Venezuela
-
143. it
LONGO BORGHINI Paolo
Cannondale
-
144. fr
HUREL Tony
Team Europcar
-
145. it
FELLINE Fabio
Trek Factory Racing
2:01
146. it
MALORI Adriano
Movistar Team
2:03
147. nl
BOL Jetse
Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
2:08
148. be
WELLENS Tim
Lotto Belisol
2:10
149. fr
PICHON Laurent
FDJ.fr
2:32
150. dk
JUUL-JENSEN Christopher
Tinkoff-Saxo
2:38
151. it
AGNOLI Valerio
Astana Pro Team
-
152. it
PIRAZZI Stefano
Bardiani - CSF
-
153. fr
TULIK Angelo
Team Europcar
-
154. ie
DEIGNAN Philip
Team Sky
2:46
155. ca
TUFT Svein
Orica GreenEDGE
3:14
156. co
QUINTERO Carlos
Team Colombia
4:17