Hesjedal edges closer to being first Canadian Giro winner

Ryder Hesjedal and Michele Scarponi, Giro d'Italia 2012, stage 19

Ryder Hesjedal is moving closer to becoming the first Canadian to win the Giro d'Italia after today's stage to Alpe di Pampeago.

"Today was the day that we were supposed to take time out of Hesjedal," Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) said at the finish. "Instead, we all lost time."

Rodriguez leads the Giro d'Italia by a precarious 17 seconds over Garmin-Barracuda's Hesjedal. With the final Milan time trial on Sunday and a better time triallist - Hesjedal - right behind, it's an insufficient advantage.

Hesjedal decided to go out and take control today instead of sitting calmly at 30 seconds back in the overall classification. His team-mates Peter Stetina and Christian Vande Velde led on to the final ascent of Pampeago. Hesjedal marked the others and then attacked.

Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) revved up the pace and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) attacked three times. Scarponi's attacks succeeded in distancing Rodriguez and Basso, but not Hesjedal. The tall, calm Canadian attacked with 2.2 kilometres to race and again at 1.5, the second time he left Scarponi.

He crossed the line second behind Roman Kreuziger (Astana), but an important 13 seconds ahead of Rodriguez. He collapsed and towelled off his face.

"Those guys, I respect them a lot, but I feel good. I am here for real," he told Cycling Weekly and a group of journalists as he stood up. Asked if he feared today more than tomorrow, the long steady climb to the Stelvio pass at 2,757 metres, he said, "I don't fear anything."

The Stelvio stage is the last mountain stage for Rodriguez, Basso and Scarponi to try to crack Hesjedal. If he stays around the same time back, they'll have a hard time keeping him from the pink jersey on Sunday when the race ends in Milan.

"We are going to look at the classification with a cool head tonight before we start making plans," sports director, Charly Wegelius told Cycling Weekly.

"We will think about the time trial on Sunday morning. At the top of Stelvio, we will draw a line and have a look to see for Sunday. Remember, [Laurent] Fignon was supposed to win the Tour in '89 and Cadel [Evans] was supposed to win in 2008. We are not counting anything before the time trial."

Giro d'Italia 2012: Latest news

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 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 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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