Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) won the 2012 Giro d’Italia by the second closest margin in the race’s history after overhauling Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) in a thrilling final time trial in Milan.
Rodriguez started the day in the pink jersey for the sixth successive stage but knew he would have to produce the ride of his life to stop Hesjedal taking the overall crown.
Rodriguez overtook Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) as points leader on stage 20 but Cavendish wore the red jersey on the final time trial by virtue of Rodriguez being in the maglia rosa.
Hesjedal had nearly overturned his 31-second deficit on Rodriguez by the first checkpoint.
BMC Racing’s Marco Pinotto produced a storming ride to win the time trial by 39 seconds ahead of Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas.
Hesjedal finished sixth on the stage to claim the 2012 Giro d’Italia title by just 16 seconds.
Pinotti’s victory comes a year after he crashed out of the 2011 Giro with a fractured hip.
Vacansoleil-DCM rider Thomas De Gendt moved into podium contention after winning stage 20 atop the Passo dello Stelvio and the Belgian overhauled Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) on the time trial to finish third overall.
Rodriguez produced the best time trial of his career to make the overall result closer than many thought it would be and the Spaniard leaves the Giro as the world’s number one ranked rider.
Hesjedal struggled to contain his emotions having pulled on the maglia rosa.
Hesjedal is the first Canadian to win a Grand Tour, while the victory was also Garmin-Barracuda’s first in a three-week race.