Colombia’s Nairo Quintana made cycling history on Sunday, being the first non-European rider to ever win the iconic Giro d’Italia race.
With a total time of 88 hours, 14 minutes and 32 seconds, Quintana commanded a 2 minute and 58 second advantage over second-place Rigoberto Uran, also from the South American country.
General Classification Top 5
Quintana is the second Colombian to ever win one of Europe’s great cycling races; his compatriot Luis ‘Lucho’ Herrera was the first when he won the Vuelta d’España in 1987.
The Boyaca-born rider also won the young riders classification, a category reserved for cyclists under the age of 25, in addition to placing third in the mountains classification. Quintana is the third Colombian in a row to win the young riders classification at the Giro d’Italia, following Rigoberto Uran’s win in 2012, and Carlos Betancur in 2013.
“So much happiness does not fit in my body,” Quintana told reporters, “This is one of the happiest days of my life. All thanks go out to my family, my team, and everybody who has helped me turn this dream into a reality”
|“So much happiness does not fit into my body. This is one of the happiest days of my life.”
King of the mountains
Colombians are also celebrating climbing specialist Julian Arredondo, who will go home as the King of the Mountains after securing most points in the mountain stages of the prestigious tour.
Arredondo is the fourth Colombian to win the mountains classification of the Giro d’Italia, continuing a tradition of Colombian success in the mountains classification of cycling grand tours.
In addition to Arredondo (1st) and Quintana (3rd), Robinson Chalapud (5th) and Jarlinson Pantano (9th) also placed in the top ten of the classification.
Quintana, from the town of Combita, gained worldwide fame for winning the young riders classification and the mountains classification in the 2013 Tour de France.
The son of two peasants, Quintana was raised in difficult economic conditions. At age 15, the economic hardships of his family led his father, Luis, to buy him a $30 bicycle as he did not have the money to send his son to school by bus. The economic decision allowed Quintana to bike the 18-mile round-trip to school and sign his first professional contract in 2009.
Even after joining his first team, Quintana’s family could not afford his race fees. According to website Cycling Inquisition, his father would convince race organizers that fees would be paid after his son had won the race. A scheme which allegedly worked frequently and allowed the peasant’s son to race with others.