2014 Giro d'Italia Recap

Monday, June 2, 2014

As far as Grand Tours go, the Giro d'Italia has always occupied a unique place in the hearts of both racers and fans alike. With its chaotic sprint finishes, legendary mountain climbs, and death defying hairpin descents it has always been a race that not only entertains, but inspires. This year's edition provided all the drama and excitement we've come to expect from the Italian Grand Tour but with a noted twist. In addition to inspiring cyclists the world over, it inspired a nation not normally associated with World Tour racing.

National pride is certainly nothing new to the sport of cycling but Colombia is often not at the top of many pundit's lists when you start talking Grand Tour contenders. The 2014 Giro d'Italia has certainly changed all of that. Both Rigoberto Uran and Nairo Quintana made history for their fellow countrymen with Uran being the first Colombian to don the maglia rosa and Quintana being the first to win overall victory. After spending three days in the pink jersey and eventually taking 2nd place overall, Uran has firmly solidified himself as a force to be reckoned with. While he may be new to some, Rigoberto, or Rigo as he's called by his fans, has been slowly building an impressive career that was highlighted by a silver medal in the London Olympics in 2012.

Born in Urrao, Colombia it was Rigo's father who first introduced him to cycling at the age of 14. Tragically, not long after he started riding his father was killed amidst the volatile political climate of the time and Rigo was forced to take over as the family patriarch. Realising they had a young talent on their hands, the local cycling club in Rigo's hometown decided to take him under their wing. With regular check-ins and constant encouragement from the cycling club, Rigo was able to cope with a terrible situation and focus on what was quickly becoming a well-defined talent.

At the age of 19 Rigo moved to Italy to race professionally and after some impressive early results he was eventually signed with Spanish super-team Caisse d'Eparge a few years later. What followed was consistant results, a stint with team Sky, the first Colombian to win the Best Young Rider classification at the Giro in 2012, and a silver medal in the Olympics. Not bad for a kid from the streets of Urrao.

Specialized has worked closely with Rigoberto this year to help him as much as possible in his hopes of winning one of the major Grand Tours. Rigo took the pink jersey this year after winning the time trial in Barolo, a discipline Uran and Specialized Racing had spent a considerable amount of time on during this year's off-season. More than just providing some of the fastest bikes in the peloton, Specialized Racing helped refine Rigo's fit and position on his S-Works Shiv.

In addition to Uran's inspiring race there was another young gun who impressed in only his second season with Astana, Italian Fabio Aru. Having joined the team halfway through the 2012 season, Fabio not only won stage 15 aboard the new Specialized Tarmac, but took 3rd place overall in the general classification. At such a young age, Aru has solidified himself as head of the new guard for Italian cycling fans.

Michael Rogers also had a stellar Giro campaign for Tinkoff-Saxo, netting two incredible stage wins aboard the new Specialized Tarmac putting the total tally of wins on Specialized bikes at 4 as well as 4 days in pink, 3 riders in the top 10 and two on the podium. Whether it was time trials, or mountain-top finishes, Specialized ensured it's athletes had every possible advantage from equipment to fit and performance testing. It was a truly inspirational campaign for all of our supported teams and from everyone at Specialized we'd like to say bravo!

Rigoberto Uran, Stage 13.

Fabrio Aru, Stage 19.

Micheal Rogers, Stage 20.