Roche took the lead of the race from Erik Breukink after Roche's Carrera Jeans-Vagabond won the stage three team time trial. The defending champion,Roberto Visentini – a team-mate of Roche – briefly grabbed the race leader'smaglia rosa for a two-day period after the stage 13 individual time trial. Roche then claimed the race lead from Visentini, after the mountainous fifteenth stage. Roche successfully defended the overall lead from attacks from Visentini and the other general classification contenders all the way to Giro's end in Saint-Vincent.
Stephen Roche became the first Irishman to win the Giro d'Italia after crossing the race's finish line in Saint-Vincent. In addition to the general classification, Roche also won the combination classification.