MILAN (AFP) –
Ryder Hesjedal created cycling history here on Sunday, the Garmin rider becoming the first Canadian to win the Tour of Italy.
The 31-year-old landed the first of the season’s big three tours after prising the leader’s pink jersey from Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez at the end of this 28.2 kilometre time trial.
Hesjedal, bagging a first major Tour for his country, had set up the race against the clock ready to pounce at 31sec behind Rodriguez after two stamina-sapping days riding in the Alps.
Favoured by the final day format he crossed the line after three weeks gruelling racing 16s clear of Rodriguez, with Belgium Thomas De Gendt, who put up a superb solo effort to claim Saturday’s penultimate stage, in third at 1min39s.
For the first time since 1995 no Italian made the podium, with the highest placed local rider being last year’s winner Michele Scarponi in fourth at 2:05.
Ivan Basso came in fifth at 3:44.
The closing 21st stage in Milan was won by Italian Marco Pinotti ahead of Geraint Thomas and Jesse Sergent, with Hesjedal assuring ultimate victory in sixth.
Rodriguez, who had said he was going to need a miracle to deny Hesjedal in the time trial, came in 1:56 down on Pinotti.