Ryder Hesjedal's run in the pink jersey ended today in the upper streets of Assisi. He and the others were unable to withstand Joaquin Rodriguez's surges, which were enough to win the stage and take the overall lead.
"What are you going to say? Purito [Rodriguez] is a classy rider," Garmin-Barracuda's Hesjedal said after the line in the ancient centre. "He showed he's on top form. This [climb] is perfect for him. He's shown he's the best in the world for this. I was pleased with where I was because that was a very hard final."
The race took the 10th leg from Civitavecchia near Rome to Umbria. The riders focused on the last 5.5 kilometres into Assisi, two steep ramps that suited team Katusha's Rodriguez. The Spaniard won this year in Flèche Wallonne, which ends with a ramp above Huy.
Hesjedal followed the accelerations up San Damiano, stayed with the favourites downhill and positioned himself well for the 1.2 kilometre final ramp. Rodriguez shot free in the last 300 metres and won by two seconds, taking 20 bonus seconds in the process. Hesjedal placed sixth and now sits second overall.
"It would've been really hard to beat him. Maybe if I was second; I could've kept the jersey, but..." Hesjedal added. "I'm all right with these types of finishes. I'm no Rodriguez or [Michele] Scarponi, or these guys. I'm right there, right now, so that's a good sign for me."
He became the first Canadian to wear the pink leader's jersey on Saturday in Rocca di Cambio. He held it since, even withstanding an attack by Rodriguez two days ago in Lago Laceno. With the effort he showed today, it is likely we'll see Hesjedal again in the high mountains, starting Saturday in the Aosta Valley. The 14th leg finishes at 2001 metres in Cervinia.
"I'm optimistic, ready to start to heading up the big mountains," added Hesjedal. "I'm more suited to the long grinds."
For now, he's happy with what Garmin-Barracuda has acheived: a time trial win, two days in pink with Ramunas Navardauskas and three with Hesjedal.
Giro d'Italia 2012: Latest news
Hesjedal has tough day as Giro leader
Schleck building form in Giro for final week in Alps
English speakers on top
Giro favourites to make move in first mountain finish
Malori will relish time in Giro lead
Sky's Giro team time trial disappointment
Phinney's terrible day sees Giro lead slip away
Teams ready for Giro's team time trial
Phinney given all-clear after Giro crash
Ferrari should be ashamed of Giro sprint, says Cavendish
Giro remembers Wouter Weylandt
Cavendish and Thomas a winning combo, says Brailsford
Geraint Thomas narrowly misses out on Giro lead
Phinney realises Giro dream
Giro d'Italia 2012: Live coverage
Giro d'Italia 2012 live text coverage schedule
Giro d'Italia 2012: Stage reports
Stage 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 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: Teams and riders
Giro d'Italia 2012 start list
Giro d'Italia 2012: TV guide
Giro d'Italia 2012: British Eurosport TV schedule
Giro d'Italia 2012: The Big Preview
Cycling Weekly's Giro d'Italia section
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