“Rome is not a city like any other. It is a great museum, a living room to tiptoe through,” said Italian legendary actor Alberto Sordi.

Well, today the Giro d’Italia has honoured this unique open-air museum at its best, thanks to its 125 surviving riders who put on one last, amazing show in Via dei Fori Imperiali, in the shadow of the Colosseum and in front of the Altar of the Fatherland.

Then, for the first time in the history of the Corsa Rosa, the winner was awarded by the President of the Italian Republic: in fact, Primož Roglič received the Trofeo Senza Fine directly from the hands of Sergio Mattarella.

The epilogue in the capital was a Grande Bellezza, a great beauty, but if the much celebrated film by Paolo Sorrentino focused on the Roman bourgeoisie, today’s protagonist was cycling, only cycling, nothing but cycling: the sport of the people par excellence. 

Primož Roglič crowned his career, taking that one major victory in a Grand Tour which can definitively establish him as one of the strongest and most successful riders of the last 15-20 years.

He went from ski jumper to cyclo-amateur, then turned pro, then won a Liège-Bastogne-Liège, an Olympic gold medal, 3 Vuelta a España, 3 Tirreno-Adriatico and now, finally, the Giro d’Italia. All in 12 years.

At 33 and a half years of age, he is the fifth oldest rider ever to win the Giro, and in a cycling era where twentysomethings seem to be hungrier than ever, Roglič is still hanging in there and continuing to prove his worth.

And there’s more because the very same can be said for Geraint Thomas, who at 37 years of age was one step away from winning an epic Maglia Rosa. With 70 years in two, they are the oldest 1-2 in the history of the Giro. But classy riders, you know, never fade away.

The Great Beauty also lies in the victory of the eternal Mark Cavendish, who waves goodbye to the Giro d’Italia in the perfect fashion, in front of the Colosseum and aided by an eye-watering lead out from Geraint Thomas.

In the last Giro of his career, the Isle of Man champion fired the last cannonball at the very last opportunity, triumphing by three bike lengths over all his rivals, as he had done so many times in his previous 16 victories in the Corsa Rosa.

In 2008, he won his first stage in Catanzaro and today, in 2023, he won his seventeenth in Rome. No one like him has ever set such a wide margin between his first and last victory.

And as if that were not enough, at 38 years and 7 days, Cavendish also becomes the oldest rider ever to win a stage at the Giro. Yes, the world’s toughest race in the world’s most beautiful country has given us, this year like few others, a flood of wonders to talk about. –www.giroditalia.it

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