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Giro d’Italia – stage 21: Hesjedal crowned champion, Pinotti wins time trial

Ryder Hesjedal became the first Canadian to win a Grand Tour after overhauling Joaquim Rodriguez in the final time trial in Milan to claim the 2012 Giro d’Italia title.

Ryder Hesjedal, 2012 Giro d'Italia champion

Garmin-Barracuda rider Hesjedal trailed Katusha’s Rodriguez by 31 seconds going into stage 21 but the 31-year-old posted a time 47 seconds quicker than the Spaniard over the 31.5km course.

Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM), who moved into contention after winning stage 20 atop the Passo dello Stelvio, replaced Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) in third overall to complete the podium.

Marco Pinotti (BMC Racing) won the stage, posting a time of 33 minutes and six seconds, with Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas 39 seconds adrift in second, the same position as Welshman finished in the race’s opening prologue three weeks ago.

“It has been an unreal experience from day one, just unbelievable,” said Hesjedal. 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.”

Rodriguez had worn the pink jersey since stage 15 but there was little to separate the diminutive climber and Hesjedal through the Dolomites, with Hesjedal taking back 13 seconds on Friday, before Rodriguez earnt 14 seconds of his own on Saturday.

But, despite Rodriguez holding an advantage of more than half-a-minute going into the final stage, Hesjedal remained favourite for the overall crown by virtue of being the far stronger time trialist.

And the former US Postal rider, who had worn the leader’s jersey for a total of four stages earlier in the race, had nearly overhauled the time gap by the first check point in Milan.

Hesjedal almost lost control of the bike on two occasions on the flat but technical course but stayed upright to finish sixth on the stage, although Rodriguez finished stronger than expected to post the 26th fastest time for the second closest finish in Giro d’Italia history.

De Gendt’s podium underlined his potential on the biggest stage. The 25-year-old enjoyed a strong finish to the 2011 Tour de France, the Belgian’s first Grand Tour, finishing sixth on stage 19 to Alpe d’Huez and fourth in the time trial the following day.

Team Sky’s Rigoberto Uran finished the Giro d’Italia as the best young rider in seventh overall, while there was consolation for Rodriguez in the fact he beat Mark Cavendish to the red jersey by just a single point.

Giro d’Italia stage 21 – result

1) Marco Pinotti (ITA) – BMC Racing 33:06 minutes
2) Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Team Sky +39″
3) Jesse Sergent (NZL) – RadioShack-Nissan-Trek +53″
4) Alex Rasmussen (DEN) – Garmin-Barracuda +1’00”
5) Thomas De Gendt (BEL) – Vacansoleil-DCM +1’01”
6) Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) – Garmin-Barracuda+1’09”
7) Gustav Erik Larsson (SWE) – Vacansoleil-DCM +1’14”
8) Maciej Bodnar (POL) Liquigas-Cannondale +1’15”
9) Svein Tuft (CAN) Orica-GreenEDGE +1’22”
10) Julien Vermote (BEL) Omega Pharma-QuickStep +1’23”

General classification

1) Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) – Garmin-Barracuda 91:39:02 hours
2) Joaquim Rodriguez (SPA) – Katusha +16″
3) Thomas De Gendt (BEL) – Vacansoleil-DCM +1’39”
4) Michele Scarponi (ITA) – Lampre-ISD +2’05”
5) Ivan Basso (ITA) – Liquigas-Cannondale +3’44”
6) Damiano Cunego (ITA) – Lampre-ISD +4’40”
7) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Team Sky +5’57”
8) Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) – Colnago-CSF Inox +6’28”
9) Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (COL) – Team Sky +7’50”
10) Mikel Nieve Ituralde (SPA) – Euskaltel-Euskadi +8’08”


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