• Giro d'Italia, Stage 21

Historic Hesjedal snatches pink jersey at the last

ESPN staff
May 27, 2012
Ryder Hesjedal claimed Canada's first ever Grand Tour win © PA Photos

Ryder Hesjedal made history by becoming the first Canadian to win the Giro d'Italia after riding his way into the pink jersey on the final stage.

Trailing Joaquim Rodríguez by 31 seconds entering Sunday's final 30km time trial, Garmin-Barracuda's Hesjedal wiped out the deficit as he snatched the maglia rosa from the Spaniard's grasp on the final day of the three-week race in Milan.

Road conditions meant the concluding time trial had to be shortened by nearly 2 kilometres (to 28.2km), and there were ominous signs for Rodríguez after he suffered minor injuries in a small crash whilst testing the course.

Hesjedal made most of his ground up by the first time check and went on to finish sixth, which was enough to see him triumph in the GC by 16 seconds.

"It has been an unreal experience from day one - just unbelievable," he said. "I couldn't have done it without the team. I knew I was good when I came into the race. I stayed fresh and took every opportunity.The support, the fans at home, it's all unreal. I'd like to thank everyone.

"It's like a dream. This whole race has been unbelievable. I have never been more focused on something in my life."

Stage 20 victor Thomas de Gendt muscled his way onto the podium at the expense of defending champion Michele Scarponi, while Britain's Geraint Thomas finished strongly by placing second behind stage winner Marco Pinotti, who won the ITT in a time of 33 minutes and six seconds.

There was some consolation for runner-up Rodríguez - the Spaniard pipping Team Sky's Mark Cavendish to the red jersey by one point.

Stage 21 result
1 Marco Pinotti (Ita) BMC Racing Team 33:06:00 2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:39
3 Jesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:53
4 Alex Rasmussen (Den) Garmin - Barracuda 0:01:01
5 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
6 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 0:01:09
7 Gustav Larsson (Swe) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:01:14
8 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:01:15
9 Svein Tuft (Can) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team 0:01:22
10 Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:01:23

Final General Classification
1 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 91:39:02
2 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha Team 00:00:16
3 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:01:39
4 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:02:05
5 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:03:44
6 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:04:40
7 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:05:57
8 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox 0:06:28

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