Another weather-affected week saw Vincenzo Nibali assert his dominance, Mark Cavendish secure the red jersey, Carlos Betancur prevail in the battle of youth – and one veteran cretin having to hitch a lift home in the snow.
A week which begun with Danilo Di Luca bragging about wanting to use his two years left as a professional to help compatriot Nibali win multiple Grand Tours with Astana ended with Nibali doing just fine without the help of the self-styled Killer – while Di Luca no doubt had his feet up on the sofa pondering just how he managed to be made to look a fool even by Lance Armstrong.
While news of Di Luca's positive test for EPO will have done very little to help restore cycling's chequered reputation – the fact that it was serial offender Di Luca who was snared by an out-of-competition test and not one of cycling's younger key protagonists will have assured many that the sport is on the right track.
If anything, Di Luca's positive will at least have saved us from having to endure another two years of one Italian's so obviously turbo-boosted attacks.
Like a veteran rocker trying to kick a cocaine habit, Di Luca's behaviour is more sad than nauseating. As Luca Scinto, his former DS at Vini Fantini, said, Di Luca may be a cretin but he also needs help.
Using a drug like EPO in today's day and age is the action of a desperate, disillusioned and delusional figure. It's as if a child has been told that peeing in the swimming pool will make the water turn purple – and yet still he can't keep himself from opening up his bladder good and proper, banking on everyone gathered around the water either being colour blind or looking the other way.
But let us not dwell any longer on a name who will appear as no more than as a mere asterisk in the records of the 96th edition of La Corsa Rosa. Had he won a stage then things would have been far more detrimental – as it is, the sum of Di Luca's EPO habit was a seemingly insatiable desire to put in a number of alarmingly regular but increasingly futile solo attacks off the front of the pack.
Had the man not been wearing a bright yellow jersey, these attacks would perhaps have gone largely unnoticed such was their lack of bearing on any of the race's main narrative threads.
As it is, the actual racing of the 2013 Giro d'Italia will always have to be viewed through the prism of the foul weather that not so much turned the race on its head but impeded its natural flow.
Michele Acquarone and RSC designed a demanding course that was appealing to both time triallists and climbers – but in the end, only one man really had what it took to tame the conditions and emerge with his full capacities probably yet fully tested.
With defending champion Ryder Hesjedal and pre-race favourite Bradley Wiggins seeing their races implode in a mixture of illness, bonking and shoddy wet downhill descents, Nibali found his main competition coming from a Colombian who had never before been a team leader and an Australian veteran who hadn't shown any form on a bicycle for well over a year.
It came as no surprise that Nibali prevailed – but the 28-year-old Sicilian deserves praise for winning in style, with back-to-back wins in the uphill time trial and Saturday's final mountain stage. Given his lack of true competition, Nibali could have coasted his way to Brescia and secured the maglia rosa without having to win a stage. As it was, he took his second Grand Tour title with true gusto.
Let's gaze back over the final week or facing and then take a little look ahead at the challenges to come this season...
Stage 16: Sun shines on canny Intxausti
The wheels come off Robert Gesink's Giro once again when the Dutchman suffers a cruel mechanical failure in the cobbled section close to the finish in Ivrea while riding in a leading four-man group.
Benat Intxausti benefits from the shoddy tactics of Przemyslaw Niemiec and Tanel Kangert to zip to victory – a second in succession for Movistar on a day that, quite remarkably, it doesn't rain. Try saying that to Mauro Santambrogio, mind. Storm clouds gather over the Italian's podium ambitions after the Vini Fantini ace is caught short on the decisive Cat.3 climb, losing a minute and a half to his rivals.
Stage 17: Visconti raises eyebrows
Web hits on the fan site devoted to Giovanni Visconti's eyebrows go through the roof after the Italian takes his second and Movistar's fourth stage win of the race after a perfectly timed attack on the only climb of the day.
Sporting the kind of impeccably aerodynamically plucked eyebrows that wouldn't look too out of place on a slightly hirsute female model (or a male transvestite), Visconti sweeps up Miguel Angel Rubiano and Danilo Di Luca on the Cat.4 rise before holding off the chasing pack to double his tally in the race.
Stage 18: Nibali gets his win
Cadel Evans repays manager Jim Ochowicz's decision to grant him BMC's team leadership during the Tour de France by putting in a torrid time trial, completing the rainy uphill route more than two and a half minutes down on winner Vincenzo Nibali.
Blending graciousness and honesty, the Australian veteran uses this as a chance to reminding the world that he has bigger fish to fry, tweeting: "Uphill TT done here at the Giro: Nibali in a class of his own. Evans – if I may say so myself – abysmal... #trainingride".
Nibali finishes almost a minute quicker than his nearest rival, Samuel Sanchez of Euskaltel, while compatriot Danilo Di Luca – who stressed earlier in the week his desire to join Astana and help Nibali win the Tour de France – turns heads with a solid 10th place before boasting on Twitter how strong he felt.
Stage 19: Cretin Di Luca the day's only positive
Heavy snowfall and sub-zero temperatures atop the Stelvio means the race's queen stage is cancelled – before Danilo Di Luca keeps cycling's old rest day tradition alive by being snared for EPO.
It turns out – surprise, surprise – that Di Luca tested positive in an out-of-competition test a week before the start of the race and just days after signing for Vini Fantini. Directeur sportif Luca Scinto calls the 37-year-old serial offender a "cretino" while Lance Armstrong throws in his two cents with the priceless assertion that: "I still can't help but think, 'really Di Luca? Are you that f***ing stupid??'".
Stage 20: Colombians defied by Nibali
The maglia rosa keeps his best to last by securing back-to-back wins with a magnificent solo ride through the snow to the summit of Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Holding three Colombians at bay – Duarte, Uran and Betancur – champion-elect Nibali underlines the gulf in class with the biggest win of his career after attacking at the foot of the highest peak in this year's race.
Evans toils in the cold weather to drop to third on GC while Polish youngster Rafal Majka loses the white jersey to Ag2R-La Mondiale's Betancur. The blue jersey already secured following the cancellation of stage 19, Stefano Pirazzi rolls home more than five minutes in arrears, mirroring his losses in the time trial, when the Italian did a Delgado and missed his start slot by a few minutes.
Stage 21: Take three for Cav
In the kind of sun that graced the race three weeks ago in Naples – but not much since – Mark Cavendish is made to sprint for the intermediate points at the second split on three occasions before it is finally confirmed that he has enough digits to leap-frog Nibali into the outright red jersey. The Manxman is the first sprinter since Daniele Bennati in 2008 to win the Giro's points jersey.
The red jersey secure, Cavendish shifts his focus to delivering his fifth win of the race – which he does with consummate ease to continue his 100 per cent record in bunch sprints in Italy. But the focus is on the pink jersey of Vincenzo Nibali, who adds the 2013 Giro to his 2010 Vuelta crown – and will now, next year, surely focus on completing a clean sweep with triumph in the Tour. Just a shame he'll have to do it without Danilo Di Luca's help, mind.
What's next? Predictions for the rest of the season...
- Cadel Evans will start the Tour but not finish the Tour as team leader at BMC.
- Bradley Wiggins will start the Tour playing second fiddle to Chris Froome at Sky, but he won't finish the Tour, full stop.
- Ryder Hesjedal won't make the top ten of the Tour but he will win a stage.
- Vincenzo Nibali and Rigoberto Uran will resume their rivalry in the Vuelta, but the Italian will come out on top once again.
- Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan will treat us to quite a remarkable clash for the green jersey in July, with Cav securing it on the last day in Paris after winning the special evening final stage on the Champs Elysees.