"Luka Mezgec has crowned an amazing three weeks of racing at the Giro d’Italia for Team Giant-Shimano with a blistering sprint finish to take the final stage of the race today.
Luka made it three stage wins for the team after Marcel Kittel’s two stages at the start of the race. The final stage as expected came down to a bunch finish and Luka kept his nerve in the closing kilometres before powering through next to the barriers in the final 150m to take a well deserved first Grand Tour victory.
The final stage of this three week tour took the riders 172km from Gemona del Friuli to Trieste where the final finishing gantry of the race awaited the peloton.
The final day is usally a mix of a procession followed by a fast finish and today we just as expected with a steady pace being set for most of the day before the first attacks came in the final 50km.
The stage featured seven finishing laps around Trieste giving the riders plenty of opportunity to see the finish before the final time. The circuit included one short dificulty, a 5% ramp just four kilometres from the finish line.
The race was all together heading into the final seven kilometre lap and the pace was cranked up heading into the last time up the hill. Team Giant-Shimano were still not at the front of the peloton on the run up to the hill but they stayed calm and brought Luka through when they needed to, with Simon Geschke and Bert De Backer present at the front with him in the final few kilometres.
Luka was positioned in the wheels as the sprint opened up and took his chance around the outside, sprinting down the barriers and coming through to take a superb victory, raising his hands in the air and savouring the moment.
It rounds out a great three weeks of racing at this 97th Giro d’Italia where the team were present in the action right from start to finish.
“I was under a bit of pressure today as there was so much Slovenian support here but that makes the win feel even better,” said Luka after the finish.
“I was really hoping to get a big result here today and have been focused on this stage all week, so it can’t get any better than this.
“The circuit was tough but the roads were big and we knew that we had to stay in front on the climb. This worked well and I was still fresh for the sprint at the end.
“Three weeks is a long time and makes your legs feel different but I have been saving the legs for today and it has all paid off.”
“What a way to finish the Giro,” Team Giant-Shimano coach Addy Engels added. “The stage went more or less as planned today – we wanted to have at least one guy with Luka in the final kilometres and both Simon [Geschke] and Bert [De Backer] were there.
“It looked briefly like he was going to be boxed in but he waited and timed it right, coming through the gap and showing that he was the fastest here today.
“At the bottom of the final climb we were still not in position but they were patient and professional and stayed calm bringing Luka up at the right time.
“It has been a great three weeks and a really successful race for us. It seems like a long time ago that Marcel [Kittel] won the opening two road stages. We have gone close several times as well with several different guys, showing that every time we have had an opportunity the guys took it.
“We knew that today was possible and Luka was still strong and it is great for him to get a stage here. He has grown a lot this season and this will be a great boost for him in his development.” (Source http://www.teamgiantshimano.com/2014/06/luka-mezgec-wins-final-stage-giro-ditalia/ )