Keisse Wins Final Stage of Giro; Contador Takes Overall
Iljo Keisse (Etixx-Quick Step) has won the final stage of the 2015 Giro d’Italia. The Belgian took a two-up sprint from Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) to win Stage 21, a flat, 178-km run from Turin to Milan, in 4:18:37. Roger Kluge (IAM Cycling) took the bunch sprint for third at 0:09. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank), who led the race for all but one day since Stage 5, is the overall winner.
At 92.5 km, BMC attacked with Philippe Gilbert, Marcus Burghardt, and Silvan Dillier, with Maximiliano Richeze (Lampre-Merida) joining the move. They took the intermediate sprint and then returned to the peloton.
Tinkoff-Saxo Bank led the field into the first of seven 5.4-km circuits in Milan. With 30 km left, Keisse and Durbridge jumped off of the front. The peloton should have caught the pair because they never led the bunch by much more than one minute. Keisse, however, was an experienced six-day racer and is excellent at cornering. In addition, the bunch could not agree on which teams should chase, and punctures and mechanicals plagued the peloton.
With 5.2 km remaining and the escapees leading by 0:34, Katusha, IAM Cycling, and Lampre-Merida went to the front. With three km left, Patrick Gretsch (Ag2r-La Mondiale) attacked but was reeled in.
Ahead, Durbridge and Keisse had time to play cat and mouse. The Australian tried to force the Belgian to lead out, but Keisse was having none of it. He came around his breakaway companion for the win.
Keisse’s win salvaged Etixx-Quick Step’s Giro. The Belgian squad was expected to make a splash with Rigoberto Uran, who finished second in 2013 and 2014 but who lacked that form this year. The team planned to steal a march on the field to win the stage. “…before the race, we had a sort of plan for me and Saba [Fabio Sabatini] to try and do something on the final bend, because I'm a track rider so I corner pretty well,” Keisse said. “But then I saw that there was some hesitation at the start of the circuit, so I attacked. I had a pretty good partner in crime in Luke Durbridge. I did my last pull at 2.5 km. I heard we had 30 seconds so I knew we'd make it. I put pressure on him by saying I wasn't going to work, and I've seen how Cavendish does it so I used that experience today. It's been a very different Giro this year for the team. We haven't won a stage, after being very successful in the previous couple of years, so this win is very important. It's my best ever victory, and I'm so, so happy.”
Contador’s overall victory was one half of his season’s goal of winning the Giro d’Italia/Tour de France double. The Spaniard said that he would remember the Giro as the epic race that it was and that he thanked the Italians for putting on a great race. “I thank the people of Italy for their affection,” he said. “Everyone has been very special with me, and I am very happy. During the three hard weeks of the Giro, everything imaginable has happened: I came here thinking about victory, having prepared very carefully, but then I had my fall and a shoulder injury. There was the mythical climb of the Mortirolo, but then yesterday on the Colle delle Finestre I had bad legs. It has been a beautiful Giro and a very special experience for me. I don't know how long it will take to recover. I'm tired, and I know it will take time. It has been an emotional Giro for me. I've said it will be my last, but you never know. As we say in Spanish, never say never.”
In the overall, Contador won the Giro by 1:53 over Fabio Aru (Astana) and 3:05 over Mikel Landa (Astana). In other competitions, Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) took the red jersey at the winner of the points competition, while Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) won the blue jersey as the best climber and Aru won the best young rider competition.
Will Contador win the second half of the Giro d'Italia/Tour de France double? Will he dominate in France as he did in Italy? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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Click here for complete results from stage 21.