The penultimate stage of the 2014 Giro d’Italia saw Michael Rogers cross the line first, but the headlines will go to Nairo Quintana, who all but secured the championship.
The Colombian crossed almost five minutes after Rogers, but the crucial fact that second-placed general classification rider Rigoberto Uran finished with Quintana means that just a finish on Sunday will see him win the overall race.
Quintana will become the first Colombian to win the Giro d’Italia bar a monumental slip up in Sunday’s final stage, and deservedly so after a fantastic campaign.
For now, though, the moment belongs to the Australian, Rogers, whose ride was overshadowed by controversy after fans interfered with Francesco Bongiorno’s efforts.
Below is Stage 20’s top 10:
|Giro d'Italia Stage 20 Results|
|5||Brent Bookwalter||American||BMC Racing||+0:1:37|
|8||Maxime Monfort||Belgian||Lotto Belisol||+0:2:12|
|9||Dario Cataldo||Italian||Team Sky||+0:2:24|
The Zoncolan mountain is one of the most-feared summits in cycling, so the last thing that any rider would need is a fan making it even harder.
That’s exactly the hand that Bardiani’s Bongiorno was dealt, though, as a mindless spectator came on to push the Italian just 3 kilometres away from the finish line.
The push was enough to end Bongiorno’s challenge, as he eventually had to settle for third place with Franco Pellizotti stealing in to take second.
Rogers also had a little crowd trouble on his way to glory, having to shout at fans and even slap them out the way while scaling the mountain.
However, nothing could stop the Aussie from being the first breakaway rider to win on the Zoncolan, with his time of 4:41:55 made all the more impressive with the unnecessary interruptions.
Speaking after the race, Rogers reflected on a dream day on the Maniago to Zoncolan route, per Sky Sports:
It has always been a dream of mine to win a mountain-top finish like that and the Zoncolan is in the history of cycling. It’s an absolute honour. The crowd was amazing, the team was amazing. We really wanted to have a chance of a stage win today and we did it, and I’m really proud. It’s steep. It’s one hell of a climb, but it makes it all the more better. To win is what every cyclist dreams of as a child.
Saturday’s victory marks Rogers’ second Stage victory of the 2014 race, having also crossed the line first in Stage 11.
However, his victory won’t affect the outcome of the general classification, with Quintana’s lead proving decisive, as we see below:
|Giro d'Italia Leaderboard|
|2||Rigoberto Uran||Colombian||Omega Pharma - Quick-Step||+0:3:07|
|5||Domenico Pozzovivo||Italian||Ag2r-LA Mondiale||+0:6:41|
With Uran and Fabio Aru a considerable distance behind him, the Colombian will likely cruise to victory on Sunday in what’s likely to be a processional ride, finishing in Trieste.
There, he’ll lift the Giro d’Italia trophy as cycling’s year of the Colombians reaches its climax.