It’s one to bore the grandchildren with – the day you were right there when Nibali joined the Greats on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
‘Epic’ doesn’t do it justice; there was a full fledged blizzard raging for the finale – it was as if the Giro organisers had tee-ed it up.
But it wasn’t just Vincenzo who deserves the plaudits, every finisher down to last man home, Sacha Modolo deserves huge respect.
We drove race route and the raging melt waters on the way up the valleys gave a clue as to what was coming.
The countryside is beautiful in the north and there’s history all around you.
By 50 K to go we were seriously into the mountains with the real ‘death climbing’ starting at 20 K to go out of a subdued and freezing Cortina.
The Tre Cime road rears from already high altitude and – when you can see them – is one of the world’s great sights.
On the way up we stopped so as I could take a picture; before we knew it we had three new amigos in the back seat, unable to believe their luck that they were going to get to the top – civilian cars don’t get anywhere near the finale.
The scene was 100% Winter Wonderland, albeit we thought that sun might just break through – that was wishful thinking as a full blown winter storm raged in.
By the time Nibali surged into view the visibility was down to maybe 30 metres and the snow flakes were the size of half crowns.
Nibali’s critics were silenced by the Sicilian; those who said he was workmanlike but unspectacular have been forced to eat their words.
He’s dignified, not prone to gobbing off, not greedy – remember the stage he gave to Santambrogio – and when he wants, spectacular.
Uran usurped Cadel but had to go deep to do so – but then so did the whole peloton on this wild, unforgettable day.
One of the revelations of the day was former Baby Giro winner, young Fabio Aru of Astana, he was fifth @ 44 seconds after having backed his Capo to the hilt in the finale.
Franco Pellizotti showed the grinta is still there, honouring his Italian champion’s maglia. Also displaying amazing toughness was Columbia’s Duarte, taking second place.
It was a bad day for Saxobank’s Majka, losing the white jersey to AG2R’s Betancur – Carlos is in fifth spot and looks like he’s been genetically engineered.
A tiny, schoolboy’s body and the thighs of a track sprinter, and as seems to be the deal with Columbian riders – a dubious hair cut.
We’d perhaps expected more of Scarponi; he’s a man who revels in tough conditions but despite his finishing ahead of Evans on the day, there wasn’t enough in his tank to usurp the Australian from the podium and the wily Italian stays fourth.
His team mate, the big Pole Niemiec was the perfect lieutenant, shepherding Scarponi up the final heart breaking metres.
Evans was struggling; we’d hear later he’d had, ‘mechanical problems’ with two kilometres to go – a wee bit embarrassing for a team sponsored by a bicycle company…
Tanel Kangert was another Astana man who did a great job for his Capo – and was still well there in the final reckoning.
There’ll be a few talent scouts have the Estonian’s name in their notebook.
Despite the conditions, Serge Pauwels managed to look pretty cool – which is more than can be said for his team mate, Cav.
But huge respect is due to Cavendish, you cannot question the man’s grinta.
We decided we’d wait for the last man home, it only seemed right – Sacha Modolo was at his limit as fought the last few metres to the line.
Respect, Sacha – and Vincenzo, Mark and all the rest on this day which they’ll be talking about for a long time to come.
Sunshine this morning as we rattle down the Autostrada to Brescia; can Cav make it five?
We think so.
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Results - Giro d'Italia 2013 - Stage 20: Silandro - Tre Cime di Lavaredo 203km
2 Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia 0:00:17
3 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:19
4 Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Ag2R La Mondiale 0:00:21
5 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:44
6 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:00:48
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2R La Mondiale 0:00:54
8 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:00:58
9 Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) Colombia 0:01:00
10 Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:01:04
11 Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha 0:01:11
12 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 0:01:14
13 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
14 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:30
15 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team
16 Tanel Kangert (E