Nairo Quintana plans to target next year’s Tour de France after celebrating victory in the Giro d’Italia yesterday.
The 24-year-old Colombian, second to Chris Froome in last year’s Tour, completed the final stage of the Giro into Trieste without incident as Slovenia’s Luka Mezgec sprinted to victory up ahead, while fourth place was enough for Nacer Bouhanni of France to retain the points leaders’ red jersey.
Quintana became the youngest Giro winner since Damiano Cunego took pink aged 22 in 2004, and the Movistar rider now has grand ambitions for the future. While he has no plans to ride this year’s Tour, having put all his focus on the Giro, he plans to return to France next summer and confirmed before the start of the stage that he has made a Tour victory his new priority. “My next goal will be to win the Tour de France one day,” he said.
By the end of the stage, such thoughts were on hold, at least for now, as Quintana basked in his success. “It’s very difficult to explain how much happiness is inside of me,” he said. “This is one of the happiest days of my life. Thank you to my family, thank you to my team and to all the Colombians.”
Quintana won by two minutes and 58 seconds from fellow Colombian Rigoberto Uran – the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider who was also second last year when racing for Team Sky.
Quintana doubled up as the winner of the young rider’s jersey ahead of the impressive Italian Fabio Aru, third overall, while another Colombian, Julian Arredondo, took the blue jersey for the mountains classification ahead of Team Sky’s Italian rider Dario Cataldo. Cataldo’s performances were a rare bright spot for Sky in a disappointing Giro in which a makeshift squad was unable to make much headway.
The final stage was animated by a few attacks on the streets of Trieste, with Svein Tuft – winner of the opening stage for Orica GreenEdge – and Lars Bak heading up the road with 44km (27 miles) to go before being joined by Stefano Pirazzi, Mikel Landa and Carlos Quintero, but they were caught soon enough as the sprint trains set up.
As they came towards the line Sébastian Chavanel tried to set up FDJ team-mate Bouhanni but the Frenchman’s line was blocked as his rival for red Giacomo Nizzolo nosed in front alongside Tyler Farrar.However, Mezgec came up along the barriers and pipped them all for the stage victory.
There was better news for Team Sky in Germany as Geraint Thomas claimed overall victory in the Tour of Bayern for the second time as Ireland’s Sam Bennett sprinted to victory on stage five.
Briton Thomas took a 19-second lead into the final day and finished safely in the peloton to repeat his 2011 triumph.