Victoria, British Columbia, native Ryder Hesjedal won the Giro d’Italia on Sunday, becoming the first Canadian cyclist to win the grueling three-week race in its 95-year history.
As expected, the 31-year-old member of the Garmin Barracuda cycling team beat overall leader Joaquim Rodriguez in the final time trial in Milan to take the championship.
Meanwhile, Belgium’s Thomas De Gendt followed Saturday’s stage win in the mountains with a strong showing in the ITT to unseat defending champion Michele Scarponi of Italy from 3rd place.
With no Italians on the podium, at least Marco Pinotti of BMC Racing did win the final stage, finishing 39 seconds ahead of Great Britain’s Geraint Thomas of Sky. US cyclist Taylor Phinney, who won the Stage 1 time trial, finished in 16th place on Sunday, 1:61 behind the winner
From champion mountain biker in his early 20s to Giro champion in Milan, this is the biggest win of Hesjedal’s career.
“It was just an unreal experience from Day 1, and what the team was able to do, it’s just incredible. … I knew I was good when I came to this race, and I just stayed focused everyday and took every opportunity. The team was behind me 100%, and I just kept thriving off that support — especially the fans back home in Canada.”
After wearing the overall leader’s maglia rosa on three stages, he began Sunday’s ITT 31 seconds behind Rodriguez. He finished Sunday’s 17.5-mile course 47 seconds faster than his rival to win the Giro by 16 seconds.
Hesjedal finished in 6th place in Sunday’s time trial, an event at which he excels.
The former mountain biker who won the under-23 silver medal in the 2001 worlds, Hesjedal first emerged at the Giro d’Italia in 2005 on the Discovery Channel pro cycling team. Winning the 12th stage of the Vuelta a Espana in 2009, Hesjedal became one of two Canadians to ever win a Grand Tour stage — the other being Steve Bauer who won a stage of the 1988 Tour de France.
Looking ahead to Le Tour, which starts June 30, Hesjedal has to be one of the favorites of that race.
Top 10 overall
1. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin – Barracuda
2. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) – Katusha Team, 16 seconds behind
3. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) – Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team, 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 Uran (Col) – Sky Procycling, 5:57
8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) – Colnago – CSF Inox, 6:28
9. Sergio Henao (Col) – Sky, 7:50
10. Mikel Nieve (Spa) – Euskaltel-Euskadi, 8:08
How US cyclists finished
22. Christian Vande Velde (Garmin) — 0:38:23
27. Peter Stetina (Garmin) — 0:54:25
155. Taylor Phinney (BMC) — 5:12:54
DNF – Tyler Farrar (Garmin)
Final results at CyclingNews.com