Eurosport - Mon, 24 May 15:53:00 2010
As the 2010 Giro d'Italia draws to its conclusion, our weekly Top Five feature takes a look at some of the classic finishes in the race.
1. Paolo Savoldelli - 2005
What is widely believed to have been the best Grand Tour of the last 20 years, Savoldelli pipped fellow Italian Gilberto Simoni in a thrilling race which saw dramatic turns at the summit of Zoldo Alto and the gruelling Dolomiti stage.
Ivan Basso went through a rollercoaster of emotions as he hauled himself into contention, before losing 30 seconds due to a puncture in the seventh stage. The Italian produced a remarkable revival the next day, while Robbie McEwen of Australia and Alessandro Petacchi fought it out in front. Basso sustained a sudden illness in the 14th stage to end his challenge in dramatic fashion, and Savoldelli clinched the Maglia Rosa to win the race.
2. Stefano Garzelli - 2000
Francesco Casagrande looked certain to win the race after being in complete control of the pink jersey until the final days in the mountains. But the Vini Caldirola-Sidermec rider capitulated and was pushed down into second place by Stefano Garzelli on an all-Italian podium.
A stalemate among the main contenders in the mountains was ended as Garzelli finally broke Casagrande's 11-day grip on the leader's jersey, having reeled in his compatriot in a tense finale. It later emerged that Casagrande had been handicapped by a sciatic nerve in his left leg, and after being usurped on the penultimate stage, the solemn Tuscan could not respond.
3. Giuseppe Saronni - 1983
Saronni won the fastest ever Giro in 1983, with an average speed of 38.937 km/h. The Italian was engaged in an arduous battle with compatriot Roberto Visentini, and victory was claimed in the 22nd stage as the 66th edition of the race ended in enthralling fashion.
It was the second of Saronni's Giro wins, the Italian having prevailed four years earlier, and Alberto Fernandez Blanco and Visentini were thwarted in a finale which Italian supporters regard as one of the most exciting and engaging. Saronni's aggressive approach was credited for his win, and its tag of being the fastest ever will forever distinguish it among other races.
4. Fiorenzo Magni - 1948
The gap between the eventual winner Fiorenzo Magni and Ezio Cecchi was just 11 seconds as the pair tussled away throughout the final stages in what was the smallest margin of victory in the history of the Giro. The Maglia Rose was held by Giordano Cottur, Vito Ortelli and Magni before Cecchi grabbed it between stages 15 and 16, but the 'third man' of the golden age of Italian cycling stole back the status.
Magni seized the initiative again in the 17th stage, and narrowly beat Cecchi to the line in a time of 125h 51'52" to send the crowd into raptures and secure his status as the winner of one of the most engrossing Grand Tour races.
5. Fausto Coppi - 1940
Coppi became the youngest winner of the Giro in 1940 at the tender age of 20, and the 50th anniversary of his death was commemorated during this year's race. 'Il Campionissimo' was renowned for his fierce and extended rivalry with Gino Bartali, and he overcame his compatriot in what was his first entry into the Giro.
Coppi's performance was legendary as he dominated the mountain stages and showed a fearless approach which no other rider could match. Enrico Mollo was with Coppi all the way, but could not muster the strength in the final stage to deny his younger rival, while Giordano Cottur also fell by the wayside in a finish which delighted and amazed the Italian public in equal measure.
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