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Giro ’12 St.21: Ryder 1st For Canada!

Race Report: This has been a hard and exciting Giro d’Italia and the two toughest riders; Ryder Hesjedal and Joaquim Rodrigez were within 31 seconds of winning this year’s Italian tour. We knew Hesjedal had the edge, but you never know what can happen at the end of three weeks and there was also the battle for third with De Gendt and Scarponi. Giro excitement from day 1 to day 21!

So, the 2012 Giro d’Italia has come down to a 28.2 kilometre time trial to decide the winner, maybe a little bit of an anti-climax after all the excitement we’ve had over the last three weeks. As my Italian friend, Alberto Celani, commented “It’s a bit like the Champions League (soccer) final being decided by penalties.” It was the same in last year’s Tour de France and Cadel Evans was a worthy winner, so why not now?

The course is flat and it does have a couple of technical sections, but it mostly has long straights which will suit the bigger, stronger riders like Ryder Hesjedal and Thomas De Gendt and not Joaquim Rodriguez. They start from the Piazza Castello with the first time check after 11.7 kilometres at the rotatoria-Via Gallarate, the second after 19.7 in the Plazza 24 Maggio, then to finish in the Plazza del Duomo after 28.2 kilometres.

This is what the riders will be looking at in the TT. 3D street view by cyclingthealps.com

The Start of the Finish!
First rider off was Euskaltel-Euskadi’s Miguel Minguez at 13:49 CET, he had the extra problem of an interview with RAI Sport only seconds before he started down the ramp. The course was proving a little tricky as some riders and TV moto’s were having difficulty following the course, including Mark Cavendish and his Sky team car who didn’t go round a round-about but took the quickest way, which is slightly shorter.

Paul Smith, the clothes designer, was there to cheer on his friend Mark Cavendish, he said that Mark was such a positive person he shrugged off his losing of the points red jersey by 1 point as “that’s cycling!” Smith was also in Milan to discuss him designing next year’s leaders’ jerseys.

Unsurprisingly the first leader was BMC’s pink jersey wearer, Taylor Phinney with a time of 34:37, this includes following a moto the wrong way. His time was surpassed by Sven Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge) by 10 seconds, Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Barracuda) in a time of 34:06 and Jesse Sergent (RadioShack-Nissan) took the early lead in a time of 33:59. A despondent Mark Cavendish finished with a time of 35:52.

Liquigas-Cannondale’s Maciej Bodnar put up a reasonable time, 22 seconds slower than Sergent to move into 3rd place ahead of Tuft. Of course the top ten on overall don’t start until John Gadret (Ag2r-La Mondiale) at 16:22, with the last fifteen riders with a 2 minute gap between them.

Mountains leader Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) was very casual at the start, but had nothing to worry about as he had done enough to be secure in his blue jersey with 84 points, his nearest rival was Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago-CSF Inox) with 44.

Sky’s Geraint Thomas put up a great time of 33:45 to go to the top of the leader board 14 seconds faster than Sergent. After he got his breath back he did concede that “there are a lot more riders still to come.” He added “I came into this race with not many race days because of riding the track. I took it easy yesterday, but I still had to ride up the Stelvio! Today I gave it full gas; I couldn’t have gone any faster.”

Italian national champion; Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD) finished with a time of 34:33 for 9th place at that time. Marco Pinotti (BMC) was out to make up for the disappointment of Taylor Phinney and was 15 seconds up on Geraint Thomas at the first time check. Pinotti, ex-national TT champion, established the new fastest time of 33:06, an incredible 39 seconds faster than Thomas at an average speed of 51.117 km/h.

Gustav Erik Larsson (Vacansoleil-DCM) also did a fair ride, 1:14 down on Marco Pinotti as the top 15 riders started with Roman Kreuziger of Liquigas-Cannondale.

The Top 15 Riders
Two minute gaps between them, Thomas De Gendt told the TV that his legs were still sore from yesterday and that the course is fast and technical and “he hopes he doesn’t crash!”

Last year’s “winner” Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) headed down the ramp and must be hoping to hold his 3rd place, but with the much faster De Gendt only 27 seconds behind him he can’t be too hopeful.

Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) was next away and needs to make up 31 seconds on the last man off Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Purito has to ride the TT of his life to save his pink jersey.

1st Time Check (11.7K):
Basso 14:19.
De Gendt 13:56.
Scarponi 14:07.
Hesjedal 13:55
Rodriguez 14:24.

Rodriguez looked fast, holding his body still, with a flat back position, but the clock said he was losing time on the Canadian, 29 seconds at that first check. Scarponi was holding De Gendt off by 11 seconds and Hesjedal and De Gendt were matched.

2nd Time Check (19.7K):
Basso 25:22.
De Gendt 24:31.
Scarponi 25:04.
Hesjedal 24:32.
Rodriguez 25:16.

And Ryder Hesjedal takes the pink jersey from Rodriguez at this point.

The Finish:
Basso 35:12.
De Gendt 34:07.
Scarponi 35:00.
Hesjedal 34:15.
Rodriguez 35:02.

In the end it looks like Rodriguez finished fast, but it wasn’t enough to save his overall lead, the little Spaniard did manage to stay on the podium, but Michele Scarponi was pushed off that 3rd place step by Thomas De Gendt.

History in the making as Canada takes its first ever Grand Tour victory and there are no Italian riders on the podium. At the finish Ryder is mobbed by the crowds, but has time for a kiss for his wife Ashley, as he wins the 2012 Giro d’Italia by 16 seconds from Joaquim Rodriguez and 1 minute 39 seconds from Thomas De Gendt.

The podium had happy faces, Thomas De Gendt has broken in to the big time, Joaquim Rodriguez brought his two kids up and Ryder Hesjedal looks to the sky and just can’t believe he has become the winner of this, one of the hardest, Giro d’Italias. The flags fly, the Canadian anthem is played and the champagne is sprayed…a happy day for most people, even the Italians with Marco Pinotti winning today’s stage.

Stay tuned Monday for the Pez’s full roadside report from the day.

Giro d’Italia Stage 21 Result:
1. Marco Pinotti (Ita) BMC in 33:06
2. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:39
3. Jesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan at 0:53
4. Alex Rasmussen (Den) Garmin-Barracuda at 1:01
5. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM
6. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda at 1:09
7. Gustav Larsson (Swe) Vacansoleil-DCM at 1:14
8. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale at 1:15
9. Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge at 1:22
10. Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 1:23.

Giro d’Italia 2012 Final Overall:
1. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda in 91:39:02
2. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 0:16
3. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM at 1:39
4. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 2:05
5. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 3:44
6. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 4:40
7. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky at 5:57
8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox at 6:28
9. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky at 7:50
10. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 8:08.

Point’s Competition:
Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha.

Mountain’s Competition:
Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Farnese Vini-Selle Italia.

Best Young Rider:
Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky.

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