Giro d’Italia in photos: stages 16 to 21
After three long weeks of racing the 2014 Giro d’Italia has come to a close. It seems like a lifetime ago that the first stages of the race were being contested in Northern Ireland, and since then the race has unfolded in dramatic and exciting ways. This gallery of images documents the final six stages of the race, including a snow-affected stage that took the riders over the Passo dello Stelvio.
When the race resumed after the third and final rest day, Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) was in the maglia rosa for the fourth day in a row and the riders were set to face the race’s queen stage.
They climbed the Gavia and the Stelvio, with metres of snow lining the roadside, and when it came time to descend the Stelvio in horrendous conditions, confusion struck. Some riders thought the descent was neutralised while others didn’t, and in the meantime Nairo Quintana (Movistar) got off the front in small group. He would go on to win the stage at the top of the third and final climb of the day, taking the maglia rosa from Uran, his close friend and former housemate.
Some would claim that Quintana had attacked on the Stelvio descent when he shouldn’t have, and that his overall lead was the result of foul play. But he would prove over the coming days that he was the strongest rider in the race and that even without the stage 16 victory, he would almost certainly have won anyway.
On stage 17 Stefano Pirazzi notched up a third stage victory for his Bardiani-CSF squad at this year’s Giro, timing his sprint perfectly to win ahead of his breakaway companions. Quintana, in the maglia rosa for the first time, finished more than 15 minutes behind Pirazzi, but with all the GC contenders in the same group Quintana maintained his overall lead.
On stage 18 the race went back into the mountains and it was Julian Arredondo (Trek) that won on the mountain-top finish to further secure his lead in the KOM classification. Quintana was nearly three minutes back on the stage but still led by 1:41 overall by day’s end.
Stage 19 was an uphill time trial to Cima Grappa and it was Nairo Quintana in the maglia rosa that took the stage victory to further increase his overall lead. Fabio Aru (Astana) was best of the rest after another talent-confirming ride.
On the penultimate stage of the race the riders faced one of the hardest climbs in world cycling: the Monte Zoncolan. It was Australia’s Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) who won the stage after getting in the early break and riding away on the brutally steep climb. Quintana was the first of the GC contenders over the line, all but securing his first Grand Tour victory.
And on stage 21, the final stage of the 2014 Giro d’Italia, it was Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) who proved strongest in the bunch sprint, taking his team’s third stage win for the race. A delighted Nairo Quintana crossed the finish line in the bunch, fist in the air, celebrating his overall victory.