Hesjedal celebrates hard-fought Giro d'Italia win

Ryder Hesjedal and trophy, Giro d'Italia 2012, stage 21

Ryder Hesjedal became the first Canadian Grand Tour winner today in the Giro d'Italia. He surpassed Joaquin Rodriguez in the final time trial in Milan to win by 16 seconds.

It was a race of seconds from day one in Herning, Denmark. Team Garmin-Barracuda's Hesjedal put 14 seconds into Rodriguez of team Katusha. Rodriguez held tight, placed second, but still lost five seconds in the Verona team time trial. The race then headed uphill.

Hesjedal took the pink jersey in Rocca di Cambio, held it for three days until Assisi. Rodriguez won in Assisi with six seconds, a gap widened with the 20-second time bonus.

In the Alps, Hesjedal took the jersey in Cervinia by placing fourth and 26 seconds ahead. Rodríguez took it back the next day, but only by a few seconds. His advantage remained preciously small, losing 13 seconds on Alpe di Pampeago and gaining two seconds yesterday on the Stelvio Pass.

"It was just an unreal experience from day one what the team was able to do. I couldn't have done it without them," Hesjedal said afterwards. "I knew I was good when I came to this race. I kept focused every day, took every opportunity. The team was 100 per cent behind me, I thrived off that support. The fans back home in Canada, the support. I kept digging deeper and deeper every day."

Hesjedal led the first foreign podium sweep since 1995, when Swiss Tony Rominger ahead of Russian Eugeni Berzin and Latvian Piotr Ugrumov. Only twice has a rider from outside Eurasia won the race: 1987 with Ireland's Stephen Roche and 1988 with USA's Andy Hampsten.

"We came with the objectives to be good in the first week - the prologue [stage 1 time trial], the first flat stages, the team time trial - we got that," Garmin's sports director, Allan Peiper said yesterday. "The guys just rode steadily. Christian [Vande Velde] said this team has never ridden like this before... and never taken control of the race. They have always been in the race, but never were the big boys. With the team we had, we used our resources to the maximum. It's been wonderful to be part of that."

Hesjedal lost team-mate Tyler Farrar to a crash in the sixth leg to Porto Sant'Elpidio. He pushed on with seven other team-mates, only losing Robert Hunter in yesterday's stage. Christian Vande Velde and Peter Stetina helped him through the mountains, helped him become the first Canadian named on the Giro's spiral trophy.

"It's hard to describe [the emotions] for me. It's a dream come true," Hesjedal said. "Since the first day I pulled on the jersey, I believed I had a chance. My rivals showed me respect, it was just something that made me stronger. To be able to compete with them was the highlight of my career so far."

Giro d'Italia 2012: Latest news

Cavendish misses out on Giro red jersey by one point

Giro welcomes prospect of Canadian winner

Sky birthday boys put party on hold

Phinney aiming for Giro final time trial win

Hesjedal edges closer to being first Canadian Giro winner

Eisel rues missed sprint chances at Giro

Still an 'opportunity' for Uran to win Giro

Guardini speechless after win against Cavendish

Kennaugh withdraws from Giro, next stop Olympics

Giro's Stelvio stage may be shortened due to weather

Izagirre wins on Grand Tour debut

Cavendish silences Cipollini

Sky tightens grip on white jersey

Rodriguez versus Hesjedal in Giro title fight

Cavendish's Sky lead-out still on learning curve

Orica-GreenEdge to strengthen sprint train in Tour de France

Schleck struggles on with dislocated shoulder

Rodriguez up against more experienced rivals in Giro

Bak from worker to winner at the Giro

Giro d'Italia 2012: Live coverage

Giro d'Italia 2012 live text coverage and schedule

Giro d'Italai 2012 stage 13 live text coverage

Giro d'Italia 2012 stage 12 live text coverage

Giro d'Italia 2012 stage 10 live text coverage

Giro d'Italia 2012 stage six live text coverage

Giro d'Italia 2012 stage four live text coverage

Giro d'Italia 2012: Stage reports

Stage 21: Hesjedal wins 2012 Giro d'Italia overall as Pinotti wins final time trial

Stage 20: De Gendt conquers Stelvio to win stage

Stage 19: Kreuziger bounces back with Giro stage win

Stage 18: Guardini beats Cavendish in final Giro sprint

Stage 17: Rodriguez wins stage to consolidate lead

Stage 16: Izagirre claims Basque breakaway victory

Stage 15: Rabottini takes tough win in Giro

Stage 14: Amador wins Giro's first high mountain stage as Hesjedal reclaims lead

Stage 13: Cavendish makes it three

Stage 12: Bak attacks to win

Stage 11: Ferrari wins Giro stage on ride to redemption

Stage 10: Rodriguez wins thrilling finale to take leadStage nine: Ventoso wins in Frosinone as Goss and Cavendish fall

Stage eight: Pozzovivo takes another Giro win

Stage seven: Hesjedal moves into Giro lead

Stage six: Rubiano solos to epic Giro stage win

Stage five: Cavendish bounces back for another stage win

Stage four: Garmin-Barracuda win TTT to take lead

Stage three: Goss wins in Horsens as Cavendish and Phinney crash

Stage two: Cavendish wins in Herning

Stage one: Phinney wins time trial

Giro d'Italia 2012: Photo galleries

Stage 20 photo gallery

Stage 19 photo gallery

Stage 18 photo gallery

Stage 17 photo gallery

Stage 16 photo gallery

Stage 15 photo gallery

Stage 14 photo gallery

Stage 13 photo gallery

Stage 12 photo gallery

Stage 11 photo gallery

Stage 10 photo gallery

Stage nine photo gallery

Stage eight photo gallery

Stage seven photo gallery

Stage six photo gallery

Stage five photo gallery

Stage four photo gallery

Stage three photo gallery

Stage two photo gallery

Stage one photo gallery

Giro d'Italia 2012: Blogs

Charly Wegelius' Giro blog: Conserving energy for the final week

Charly Wegelius' Giro blog: Holding on to the lead

Charly Wegelius' Giro blog: Getting the team time trial right

Giro moto blog: Hurray for rest day

Giro moto blog: Stage 10

Giro d'Italia 2012: Teams and riders

Giro d'Italia 2012 start list

Giro d'Italia 2012: TV guide

Giro d'Italia 2012: British Eurosport TV schedule

Related links

Giro d'Italia 2012: The Big Preview

Cycling Weekly's Giro d'Italia section


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