Slovenia's Roglic wins Giro d'Italia, Britain's Cavendish outsprints field to win closing stage in Rome

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ROME, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Primoz Roglic became the first Slovenian to lift Giro d'Italia bike race title while British cyclist Mark Cavendish celebrated his final stage victory in his last appearance in the 106th edition of the event

The three-week race embraced much of the Italian peninsula, spanning 3,364 kilometers (2,090 miles). The concluding stage journeyed 126 kilometers (78 miles) in and around the Italian capital, ending dramatically in the shadow of the renowned Roman Colosseum.

Roglic expressed his astonishment at his overall victory, saying, "I am still in disbelief."

This win marks Roglic's maiden victory in the Giro d'Italia, following his three wins in Spain's Vuelta a Espana.

Geraint Thomas of Britain held the race lead entering Saturday's mountainous time trial in northern Italy. Roglic, 33, made a dramatic intervention by winning the stage and seizing a 14-second lead in the overall classification. Roglic overcame a mechanical mishap on Saturday when his chain slipped on a steep uphill.

After over 85 hours of racing across 21 stages, that 14-second gap remained at Sunday's finish.

Portuguese rider Joao Pedro Almeida completed the race in third place overall, trailing Roglic by one minute and 15 seconds. Damiano Caruso, the top Italian in the race, finished four minutes and 40 seconds behind the winner. France's Thibaut Pinot secured the fifth spot, finishing five minutes and 43 seconds off the overall leader.

The highest-ranked non-European in the race, Colombian Einer Augusto Rubio Reyes, placed 11th overall, falling behind Roglic by 10 minutes and 43 seconds.

However, Sunday's final stage belonged to the 38-year-old Cavendish, who confirmed his retirement at the end of this season earlier this year.

The stage win took Cavendish's total stage victories to 54 over 15 years across Europe's three revered Grand Tour races, including the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana.

On Sunday, with the assistance of overall runner-up and long-time friend and training partner Thomas, Cavendish outpaced the field for the final sprint. He clinched the final stage by approximately three meters (10 feet).

"What a feeling!" a delighted Cavendish told reporters post-race. "Reaching the end was tough, but I had some fantastic, long-time friends to help. It's an emotional day to win here in Rome."

Among other winners, fifth-place overall finisher Pinot took home the title for the best climber, surpassing Canadian Derek Gee. Third-place finisher Almeida, age 24, won the title for the race's top young rider. Italian Jonathan Milan edged out Gee for the total points.

The inaugural Giro d'Italia race took place in 1909, six years post the first Tour de France and 26 years pre the Vuelta a Espana. Enditem

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