Vincenzo Nibali just won an epic Giro d'Italia -- here are our favourite photos from the world's most beautiful bike race after 3 wild weeks

Vincenzo Nibali just won the Giro d’Italia for the second time after completing a remarkable comeback on the penultimate stage.

The 99th running of the Tour of Italy featured one of the most exciting finishes in recent years. Notably, Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk looked set to win the race overall after some brilliant riding in the high mountains and time trials. He held a huge lead of 4 minutes 43 seconds on Nibali going into the final mountain stages on Friday and Saturday and was on course to make history by becoming the first Dutchman to win the race’s fabled pink jersey, AFP noted. But he dramatically crashed out of the lead with just two stages to go and finished off the podium.

At one point earlier in the race, there were reports that Nibali might pull out, having had some bad days that saw him lose time on his rivals. But he surged as the race neared its conclusion, and in the closing stages the “Shark of Messina” attacked and dropped his opponents, including his main threat, Esteban Chaves of Colombia. Chaves ended up finishing second and Spain’s Alejandro Valverde was third.

“I had a stomach bug during the Giro, but it’s better not to tell everything sometimes,” Nibali revealed after the final stage. “The last rest day allowed me to get better. I never said that I wanted to go home. I always remained in the high part of the classification. Steven Kruijswijk had a good advantage after the Dolomites, but I knew the highest mountains were yet to come. Riding above 2,000 metres isn’t easy for anyone but I found myself in good shape. Kruijswijk crashed but toward the summit of the Colle d’Agnello, I noticed he was breathing heavily so I put pressure on him climbing and then descending. Had I not done so, probably nothing would have happened and Chaves would have had an easy ride as well. Everyone was watching me.”

Nibali, a Sicilian who rides the Kazakh-based Astana team, has previously won the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. The 2016 Giro started on May 6 in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, and finished on May 29 in Torino, Italy. After three weeks of racing, Nibali’s official time was 86 hours, 32 minutes, and 49 seconds.

“It’s a beautiful emotion,” Nibali said. “Today I win my second Giro d’Italia. I’m speechless.”

“It’s an amazing feeling to ride into Turin with all my teammates like this,” Nibali told the AFP. “It’s really indescribable.”

It was also the 14th consecutive grand tour for Australian Adam Hansen, and so his record his alive and well.

The highest-place American was Delaware native Joe Dombrowski of the Cannondale team in 34th.

Below are some of our favourite pictures from this year’s race.

We’ll be updating this post with more information and photos. Check back for updates.

On stage 20, the penultimate stage and the final showdown for the overall contenders, Nibali's Astana team made their intentions clear, riding prominently near the front of the race in Italy's high mountains.

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The Astana team rode strongly on the roads to Sant'Anna di Vinadio to set up their leader, Nibali, center.

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Nibali attacked race leader Esteban Chaves, in pink, on the penultimate stage. Nibali distanced the Colombian as well as Spain's Alejandro Valverde, right, to all but secure a second Giro victory. This was the moment the race was won.

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These were some of the key moments of the entire race:

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Nibali rode a custom-painted pink Specialised bike on the last stage.

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The final podium, from left: Esteban Chaves of Colombia; Vincenzo Nibali of Italy; and Alejandro Valverde of Spain.

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Steven Kruijswijk was racing brilliantly on stage 18, but his race lead would soon be lost.

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The peloton rode through beautiful countryside toward Andalo on stage 16.

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Most of the race favourites are seen here in full-tuck position on a descent on stage 16.

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Germany's Roger Kluge just held off the charging pack to take one of his greatest wins on stage 17 at Cassano d'Adda. Kluge is a pursuiter with a strong track background, and he's set to represent Germany at the Rio Olympics in the omnium event.

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Matteo Trentin of Italy put on a show for spectators on the Giro's longest stage, to Pinerolo -- and he ended up winning the day.

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Dutch rider Steven Kruijswijk had fantastic legs on stage 14 and rode into the race lead.

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Stage 14 was one of the most picturesque. TV copters like this one here help broadcast the gorgeous live images around the world.

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Although riders don't have much time to take in all the beauty around them.

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Spectators got to see former Giro winner Nibali of Sicily up close in the mountains on stage 14.

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Spain's Alejandro Valverde and Nibali are among cycling's best descenders.

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Big German sprinter André Greipel scored a Giro hat trick on stage 12.

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The Giro brings out all kinds of characters, but Mikel Nieve didn't seem to have much time for spectators in the high mountains.

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Andrey Amador made history on stage 13 by giving his native Costa Rica its first Giro d'Italia leader's jersey.

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In years past, snow and bad weather have forced organisers to alter or even cancel stages, but this year the riders have so far enjoyed clear roads -- as here on stage 14.

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Chaves out-sprinted his breakaway companions to win stage 14, the race's queen stage.

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Andrey Amador of Costa Rica struggled in the high mountains and lost his pink leader's jersey at the end of a gruelling day.

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Spain's Mikel Nieve took one of his greatest victories on stage 13, giving his British Sky team a much-needed win.

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Riders passed the magnificent Villa Farsetti on the 12th stage.

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The Giro is a special event in Italy, and many people take time to celebrate it.

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The Giro started in the Netherlands this year and kicked off with a team presentation.

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Neo-pro Giulio Ciccone of Italy is just 21 but can now call himself a Giro stage winner after an impressive ride on the 10th stage.

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The peloton climbing on stage 8, a ride from Foligno to Arezzo.

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Gianluca Brambilla used his compact but powerful 125-pound frame to break away on a hilly stage 8 for the solo victory.

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Brambilla couldn't hide his joy after taking his greatest victory on the eighth stage. He also became the new race leader.

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For three weeks the peloton will visit many beautiful Italian towns. And completely take over the roads.

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Sprint ace André Greipel, left, and race leader Tom Dumoulin on stage 7. Dumoulin took the leader's pink jersey on stage 1 but later lost it. Back then, he said he wasn't racing for overall victory, but he attacked on stage 6 and reclaimed the lead.

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Belgium's Tim Wellens snagged one of his greatest victories after breaking away solo on stage 6. He seemed pleased.

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Every time the Giro rolls around we're reminded that Italy is one of Europe's most beautiful countries.

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Ilnur Zakarin's ink, spotted on stage 3. Words to live by.

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Jelle Vanendert has the glorious task of fetching water bottles for his teammates. Someone's gotta do it.

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Italy's best bike racer, Vincenzo Nibali, struggled on stage 6. He'd come into this race as a favourite.

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A big pizza pie for race leader Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands. Welcome to Italy.

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André Greipel, aka Gorilla, took his second stage win on stage 7.

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Breakaway riders on the third stage in the Netherlands.

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Time-trial specialist Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands lit up the opening stage, blazing around the 6-mile course in 11 minutes and 3 seconds, with an average speed of 33 mph. He won by one-hundredth of a second.

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The peloton rode by lots of the iconic windmills that stand across the Netherlands.

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Diego Ulissi seemed pleased with his solo win on stage 4.

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Rival 'trains' at the front of the peloton on stage 3. Delaware native Joe Dombrowki led the green-kitted Cannondale squad.

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Authorities counted over half a million roadside spectators in the three days the Giro spent in the Netherlands.

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Whereas the colour of the Tour de France is yellow and the Tour of Spain is red, the colour of the Giro is pink.

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A tough day at the office.

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The peloton during stage 5, a ride from Praia a Mare to Benevento.

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The route for the 2016 Giro d'Italia, the 99th running of the race. The riders will pedal about 2,150 miles.

Dumoulin got to wear the first maglia rosa, the leader's pink jersey.

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The Dutch made the Giro visit a huge party. They're mad for cycling in all its forms.

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Kittel doubled up on stage 3, taking his second win in a row.

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Another view of the Giro d'Italia course.

German sprint king Marcel Kittel took selfies with fans before the start of stage 3.

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Fans partied over the peloton, stoked to have the Italian grand tour pay a visit.

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The peloton racing during the third stage, on the race's last day in the Netherlands before heading for Italian soil.

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No one could come close to Kittel -- the world's fastest road sprinter -- on stage 2.

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The race kicked off indoors with riders rolling off a start ramp to begin a short time trial.

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Spraying the bubbly is a tradition at the podium ceremony, and Kittel's a pro at this point.

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This is the Italian rider Alberto Bettiol starting his Giro; he rides for the US-based Cannondale team.

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About 235,000 spectators turned out for the second stage, 35,000 of them in the start town of Arnhem, 60,000 in the finish town of Nijmegen, and 140,000 along the route, according to the Giro organiser.

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Kittel won stage 2 in dominant fashion.

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The Giro opened to huge crowds in the Netherlands.

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The American squad Cannondale Pro Cycling being introduced before the race.

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The winner of the three-week Giro will take home this stunning, spiraling prize called the 'Never-Ending Trophy.'

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