Ryder Hesjedal Win Giro d'Italia
May 29, 2012
Victoria, BC, Ryder Hesjedal became the first Canadian rider to win a Grand Tour — the Giro d'Italia. Hesjedal, who was second in the standings, 31 seconds behind Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain, Katusha) before the start of the final stage, erased the deficit over the 28.2km time trial to finish 16 seconds ahead of the Spaniard on the overall classification.
Ryder Hesjedal celebrate the end of stage 7 of the Giro d'Italia with a little champagne. Photo Graham Watson
The Garmin-Barracuda rider made Canadian cycling history on May 12 (stage 7) when he first grabbed the leader jersey finishing fifth on the twisty climb up Rocca di Cambio. He and his team successfully defended the "maglia rosa" over the next two days before Rodriguez claimed victory on stage 10 and took over as the race leader. The pink jersey then returned to Hesjedal's shoulder following stage 14, where the Canadian broke away from the chase group to finish ahead of the race favorites. The next day Rodriguez took it back, finishing second that day.
The last week of racing started with Hesjedal 30 seconds down in the standings. The Dolomites provided a fantastic battleground for stage 17, and although Rodriguez won the stage he could not shake Hesjedal who took third that day. Stage 19 proved to be epic, the Canadian finished second and reduced the margin separating him from the race leader by 13 seconds.
Christian Vande Velde leads race leader Ryder Hesjedal on stage 8 of the Giro d'Italia. Photo Graham Watson
The following day an early break proved dangerous, staying away and establishing a five-minute lead over the favorites with less then 10km to go. This was bringing Thomas De Gendt (Belgium), the eventual stage winner, dangerously close to Hesjedal's second place in the general standings. None of the title contenders seemed able or willing to chase and the Garmin-Barracuda rider had to take matters in his own hands, making a huge effort to reduce the damage and bringing the gap down by a minute and a half. Rodriguez jumped toward the end of the stage to get back the few seconds he had lost to Hesjedal the previous day but the Canadian kept the Belgian threat at bay.
With one stage remaining, Hesjedal was sitting second on general classification, 31 seconds behind leader Rodriguez. A better time trialist, Hesjedal shaved all the corners and rode on the edge finishing 47 seconds faster than Rodriguez over the distance to claim his first Giro d'Italia victory.
Post race commentaries:
“This is incredible, I can’t quite believe it,” said Hesjedal. “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.”
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