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Quintana virtually clinches Giro as Rogers wins mountain stage

2 June 2014

CYCLING: Nairo Quintana virtually clinched the Giro d'Italia title Saturday with a strong ride up the demanding Monte Zoncolan, while Michael Rogers benefited from a fan interruption to post his second stage victory of the race.

Quintana's lead of 3min 7sec over fellow Colombian Rigoberto Uran remained unchanged entering Sunday's final stage.

"It's 99 per cent done," said Quintana, who shed some tears during the podium celebration. "They were tears of happiness. I've achieved one of the big goals in my life."

Francesco Manuel Bongiorno was right on Rogers' wheel with three kilometres to go when a fan pushed him hard enough on the back that he had to brake to avoid hitting Rogers and took his left foot off the pedal.

"I'm very bitter," the Italian said. "On a climb like that when you lose your balance it's impossible. ... Maybe this incident will be good for the future. The fans give us strength but they need to (learn)."

By the time Bongiorno got going again on a gradient of 15 per cent, Rogers had opened up a significant lead.

"I wasn't aware," the Australian said.

"I'm sorry for Bongiorno. He's a good kid and rode hard. I tried to drop him many times. ... Unfortunately this happens often."

The Tinkoff-Saxo rider finished the 167km ride from Maniago 38 seconds ahead of Franco Pellizotti and Bongiorno crossed third, 49 seconds back.

Rogers, a three-time time trial champion who was recently cleared of a doping accusation, also won the 11th stage.

"The last kilometres were a dream," Rogers said. "I've always dreamed of winning an uphill stage like this and this is the first time I've been able to."

Cadel Evans remains the best-placed Australian but he dropped one place to eighth overall and his time gap increased to 12 minutes.

Quintana finished 17th in the stage, 4:45 back, with Uran right behind him.

Quintana was runner-up to Chris Froome in last year's Tour de France and this would be his first Grand Tour victory.

"This year I don't think I'll be at the Tour but next year we'll probably try it," Quintana said.

The Movistar rider was then asked if he would consider riding both the Giro and Tour next year.

"It's possible," he said.

"We've talked about it with the team manager. We'll evaluate both options."

The race which began in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 9 culminates on Sunday with a flat 172km run from Gemona del Friuli to Trieste.

AP

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