Italian Gilberto Simoni won the Giro d'Italia for the second time in three years with an impressive display in Sunday's time trial.
The 31-year-old clinched the title after pulling well clear of the rest of the field in his three victories in the mountain stages.
Riding a pink bike on the final stage to celebrate his
victory, the Italian finished more than seven minutes ahead of
compatriot Stefano Garzelli in the overall standings.
Simoni, winner of the title in 2001, kept the trophy in home hands for
the seventh straight year.
Ukrainian Serhiy Honchar, the 2000 world time-trial champion of
the De Nardi team, won the 21st and final stage of the Tour of
Italy, a 33km time-trial.
Serhiy Honchar came home alone 19 seconds ahead of Italian Marzio Bruseghin with Spaniard Aitor Gonzalez a further second off the pace.
"I never look back," Simoni said in reference to last year when he was forced to leave the race after two separate positive tests for cocaine.
"I started afresh and thought only about racing. I approached
this Giro in a different manner.
Overall winner: Gilberto Simoni
Points winner: Gilberto Simoni
Mountain winner: Fredy Gonzalez
Intermediate sprint winner: Magnus Backstedt
Team standings (time): Lampre
Team standings: Fassa Bortolo
"I acted in a more reasoned way, less instinctive. Like in the
Faenza stage, where my attack was pre-meditated. I took off at the
right moment. They made a big mistake by underestimating me."
And Simoni warned four-time Tour de France winner Lance
Armstrong of the United States that he was ready to challenge him
"I'm going to try and give Armstrong a tough time. Until now he
hasn't been challenged by real climbers," said Simoni.
"The Tour course doesn't seem too hard to me, but then we
thought the same about the Giro and it proved challenging."
Italy's Alessandro Petacchi also stamped his mark on the race,
winning six stages in sprint finishes to equal the record of
compatriot Mario Cipollini in 2002.
World champion Cipollini, who won a record 42nd stage during the
race, withdrew after a fall in the 11th stage left him with rib
Stage 21 results
1. Serhiy Honchar (Ukr) De Nardi 38 minutes four seconds
Bruseghin (Ita) + 19sec
3. Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) +20
4. Dario Frigo (Ita) +26
5. Raimondas Rumsas (Lit) + 63
6. Sandy Casar (Fra) +65
7. Stefano Garzelli (Ita) +1:16
8. Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) +1:18
9. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) +1:19
10. Georg Totschnig (Aut) +1:21
50. Charles Wegelius (GB) +3:38
85. Julian Winn (GB) +5:28
Final overall standings
1. Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco 89 hours 32min 09sec
2. Stefano Garzelli (Ita) +7min 06sec
3. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) +7:11
4. Andrea Noe (Ita) +9:24
5. Georg Totschnig (Aut) +9:42
6. Raimondas Rumsas (Lit) +9:50
7. Dario Frigo (Ita) +10:50
8. Serhiy Honchar (Ukr) +14:14
9. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) +14:26
10. Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) +19:21
51. Charles Wegelius (GB) +1:39:00
82. Julian Winn (GB) +2:32:22