This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) became the first Canadian rider to win a grand tour when he finished 47 seconds ahead of overnight leader Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) in the final time trial in Milan to claim the Giro d’Italia title by a mere 16 seconds. Hesjedal finished sixth in the 28.2km Milan test, which was won by Marco Pinotti (BMC Racing), ahead of Sky’s Geraint Thomas and RadioShack’s Jesse Sergent.
Hesjedal cleared all but two seconds of his 31-second deficit on Rodríguez by the first time check and continued to gain time on the Spaniard, who had admitted beforehand that he would need a miracle to hold on to the pink jersey. Apart from a couple of dicey moments when his bike slipped as he went through two tight corners, Hesjedal was always on course to achieve his goal, although Rodríguez finished strongly and did not lose as much team as many had expected.
Third place on the podium went to Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM), who built on his stunning Stelvio victory yesterday. The Belgian finished fifth on the day and relegated defending champion Michele Scarponi to fourth place. De Gendt’s elevation to third meant that there was no Italian on the final podium for the first time since 1995.
Hesjedal rode a strong time trial to finish sixth and claim pink
Having hugged his wife after crossing the line, Hesjedal quickly received confirmation that he regained the maglia rosa from Rodríguez.
“This is incredible, I can’t quite believe it,” said the Garmin rider. “I have to thank my team for their efforts over the past three weeks, I couldn’t have done it without them. I’ve had to dig deeper and deeper as the race has gone on. I also like to thank all the Canadian fans back home for their incredible support.
“It’s been a fantastic experience. I started to believe in it more and more when I realized that I was riding better in the mountains than I ever have in any other race. My legs felt good, I was strong in my head, and I reached the last day in good condition and managed to write an important page in history.”
Ryder Hesjedal: post race press conference
Conditions were perfect for the final test of this fascinating race. There was good news initially for Rodríguez and the other non-specialists, when it was announced that the course through Milan had to be shortened by 2km, due to roadworks, leaving the riders facing a test of 28.2km.
RadioShack’s Sergent was the fastest of the early starters, until his time was bettered by Sky’s Geraint Thomas. However, just as was the case for Bradley Wiggins in 2009, the Briton would have to settle for second on the day.
Marco Pinotti won the stage
The course was always likely to suit a specialist like Marco Pinotti, and he went about demonstrating that, overtaking the two riders who went off before him. He finished 39 seconds ahead of Thomas, with Sergent the only other rider within a minute of him. In the process, he bookended the Giro for his BMC team, his victory on the final day following Taylor Phinney’s prologue success.
“This was a big goal for me,”Pinotti said. “I won the last time trial here at the Giro in 2008 and I was second in 2010 and last year it was a big goal. But I crashed two days before and had to go to the hospital. So I’ve been working for this for a year. For me, it’s been a difficult Giro. I was trying to save all my energy for this in the last week.”