The Giro d'Italia 2014 started in Ireland. The drivers expected three atmospheric stages and lots of rain. After that, the spectators were treated to a varied race in the motherland of the tour.
Stage #1: team time trial. As expected, the big favorites from Orica GreenEdge secured the day's win and the birthday boy in their ranks, Svein Tuft, the pink jersey.
Stage #2: Ireland is wet, cold and windy. Nevertheless, there is a mass sprint, which Marcel Kittel can quite clearly win.
Stage #3: Marcel Kittel turns 26 and wants to give himself presents for his birthday. It will be one of the toughest sprints of his career and his opponents can't believe that Kittel flew past them on the home straight.
Stage #4: In Bari the drivers expect higher temperatures but the same rain as in Ireland. The inner city loop, which has to be avoided several times, is neutralized by the drivers on their own initiative because the actually dusty roads are far too slippery. Nacer Bouhanni takes the day's win and is showered with kisses - whether he likes it or not...
Stage #5: In the finish climb from Viggiano, the Australian Cadel Evans lets his ambitions and also his skills flash for the first time. Together with the winner of the day, Diego Ulissi, he set himself apart from his competitors by a few seconds shortly before the finish. Nobody could have guessed that, with a total deficit of twelve minutes on Quintana, they would only be a drop in the ocean.
Stage #6: Cadel Evans and the man in pink Michael Matthews benefited from a crash four kilometers from the finish that cost the entire final podium of Nairo Quintana, Rigoberto Uran and Fabio Aru much time. This makes Evans the temporary favorite for the overall win and Matthews the stage winner and stays in pink.
Stage #7: Last chance for the sprinters for now; and the man who had taken over the role of Marcel Kittel also appeared in Foligno all the rear wheel: Nacer Bouhanni wears red and will not take off the jersey of the points best until the end.
Stage #8: The first real mountain stage takes the peloton over the Carpegna, the local mountain of Marco Pantani, who died ten years ago. In the very steep final ascent to the Montecopiolo, Diego Ulissi gets his second victory of the day. Cadel Evans slipped into the pink jersey in fifth place.
Stage #9: First stage victory of a soloist from an escape group: Peter Weening drives around a traffic island on the other side than his escape helpers, gains a few meters and carries it through to the finish line ... nice!
Stage #10: As if there were no alternative for a sprint winner, Nacer Bouhanni took the third stage win - with a lot of running on this super-flat stage in Emilia Romagna.
Stage #11: On the descent towards the finish, Michael Rogers attacks and is rewarded for his courage. In the best time trial manner, he saves ten seconds ahead of the peloton to the finish of a stage characterized by numerous falls, which also killed Fabian Wegmann.
Stage #12: First individual time trial at the Giro and everyone expected Cadel Evans to cement his lead. Instead, the cycling world sees the first Colombian in pink at the Giro: Rigoberto Uran.
Stage #13: The Italian Marco Canola (Bardiani-CSF) won the day out of a three-man lead group. Even a heavy hailstorm around the destination of Rivarolo Canavese failed to impress the drivers.
Stage #14: Slowly but surely, the week of decision is getting into the hot phase. The final climb to Oropa is again dedicated to Marco Pantani, who celebrated one of his last impressive victories here in 1999, and accordingly finds an Italian winner: Enrico Battaglin. Some of the week's dominators, Nairo Quintana and Domenico Pozzovivo, put the pink jersey under pressure.
Stage #15: An ascent with a 200-kilometer run-up to Montecampione. The lead changed constantly here. The young Italian Fabio Aru showed the most irresistible performance. Rigoberto Uran lost a few seconds from his lead but stayed in pink.
Stage #16: A royal stage through four seasons - with a winner Nairo Quintana, who had to listen to a lot of criticism because he disregarded a red flag on the dangerous descent from the Stelvio and had worked out a decent lead by the final climb into the Martelltal. Quintana got Rosa and a preliminary decision was made.
Stage #17: Down from the mountains and towards Veneto - a last quiet day before the decisive three days of the Giro would start. A 26-person leading group was allowed to let off steam today. In her this, among others, Simin Geschke, who rode a really great and present Giro. On this stage he was seventh. The winner of the day was again an Italian with Stefano Pirazzi.
Stage #18: The Colombian festival at the Giro continues and finds a deserved stage winner in Julian Arredondo. Back in the high mountains, he showed why he wears the blue jersey of the mountain's best and won the mountain finish up to Valsugana. Cadel Evans lost more time and mentally said goodbye to the 2014 Giro victory project.
Stage #19: Mountain time trial on the Cima Grappa: 1.600 meters in altitude over 26 kilometers - and of course a Colombian wins. With Nairo Quintana, it's the man in pink. But the star of the stage is Fabio Aru, for Italy the reincarnation of Marco Pantani, who keeps the fight for the stage win exciting until the last turn of the pedals. Incidentally, seeing Mario Cipollini on this course of all places is no mirage, the record stage winner for the climb for Italian television.
Stage #20: The Zoncolan is now as firmly part of the Giro program as the Alpe d'Huez in the Tour de France. The unexpected winner of the day was again Michael Rogers, who mutated into a mountain goat in his old age. Today's guest of honor, Francesco Moser, will certainly never become a mountain goat.
Stage #21: It is finished. With Trieste, the 156 remaining riders await the finish line of the Giro d'Italia 2014. Luka Mezgec, a Giant Shimano rider, wins again in the sprint and thus dims Nacer Bouhanni's perfect show. Nevertheless, he gets the red jersey for the points with the best points just as easily as Nairo Quintana gets the pink jersey and, incidentally, the white jersey for the best young professional. Blue for the mountain best remains on the shoulders of Julian Arredondo. Rigoberto Uran and Fabio Aru complete the podium in second and third place respectively.