May 29, 2011

David Millar won the final stage of the 2011 Giro d’Italia to cap a successful run through the Italian tour that included two days in the pink jersey and two riders in the top-25 overall.

Millar swept to victory on the 26km time trial course in Milano in 30 minutes, 13 seconds (51.627kph) to claim his first individual stage win at the Italian tour seven seconds faster than Alex Rasmussen. Alberto Contador crossed the line third to secure overall victory.

“I wasn’t really thinking about winning the final time trial when this Giro started, but I started to feel better as the Giro went on and then I really wanted to win today,” Millar said. “I felt good in the first kilometer. And I could keep up a consistent speed throughout the stage. It’s a great way to finish the Giro for me and the team.”

The victory was Millar’s first on the 2011 season and gives him a sweep of all three grand tours, with stage wins at the 2002 Tour de France and three stages at the Vuelta a España. The success complemented Millar’s two-day run in the race leader’s maglia rosa in stages 3 and 4.

“It really meant a lot to me to have the pink jersey, especially after what happened to Wouter Weylandt. It was a real honor to wear the jersey that day we rode in honor of Wouter,” said Millar, referring to the tragic death of the Belgian rider in stage 3. “I felt like a real racer again in this Giro. I was on the attack, I won the pink jersey, I won a stage and I helped out my team. It’s been a successful Giro for us.”

Millar’s win was a perfect way to cap a solid Giro ride for Garmin-Cervélo. Christophe Le-Mével finished 15th overall at 32:08 back while grand-tour rookie Peter Stetina made an impressive debut with 22nd at 50:09 back.

“I am satisfied with this Giro. I really was strong in the first two weeks. I was in the top-5 on every stage and in the GC for the entire second week. I was really fighting to win a stage and to take the pink jersey, but I think it cost me a little bit in the third week,” Le-Mével said. “I will learn from this experience and maybe I will play it a little more calculating in the future because I wanted to finish in the top-10 here. It was worth it, because winning a stage or taking the jersey is also very beautiful.”

The 23-year-old Stetina confirmed that he’s a rider who can have grand tour potential for the future, especially on mountainous courses like this year’s Giro. Stetina rode well in Saturday’s epic stage over the Finestre climb to finish off his Giro on a strong note.

“There are just positive signs all the way through. We knew I was capable of a top-20. I think I could have done it, but I lost some time early on because there was no pressure and I was just enjoying the experience of my first Giro,” Stetina said. “Had I pushed through in the first week, I probably would have ended up top-20, so I am happy. Now I’ve just got to keep chipping away at it.”

Five of Garmin-Cervélo’s starting nine riders made it to Milano. Cameron Meyer capped his second Giro with an impressive seventh in Sunday’s individual time trial.

“It’s the final time of the Giro and you just give everything you have left in the body,” Meyer said. “After three weeks of racing, in a Giro this hard, you just go as hard as you can. This Giro was better for me than last year because I was sick.”

Tom Peterson also survived this harrowing Giro after fighting through a virus in the first part of the race to really step up in the final week to help Le-Mével pace through the Alps.

“Coming from the Vuelta, and seeing how good I could be, and wanting to build on that and take something out of the Giro, it’s somewhat of a disappointment. For a lot of the race, I felt worthless, but I was sick. The good thing is that recovered during the Giro, which was a surprise, and I ended pretty strong,” Peterson said.

“This Giro is the first time I felt like I was going to miss a time cut, so it was interesting to go through that and to know what people are experiencing in that situation and then to jump back to the other side and then to be dishing it out again.”

More photos from the Giro d’Italia:
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