- Pinotti made a triumphant return to the Giro with his stage 21 win. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com
- The Giro's final podium: Rodríguez (l), Hesjedal and De Gendt (r). Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com
- Ryder Hesjedal celebrates on the podium after winning the 2012 Giro d'Italia. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com
Marco Pinotti won the final-stage time trial at the Giro d’Italia on Sunday. Pinotti (BMC Racing) topped Geraint Thomas (Sky) and Jesse Sergent (RadioShack-Nissan) in the 28km race against the clock in central Milan.
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) delivered a solid final-day effort, supplanting Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) atop the overall standings to become the first Canadian to win the Giro d’Italia.
“It was just an unreal experience from day one, with what we’ve been able to do, with the support of the team,” said Hesjedal. “I couldn’t have done it without them. I knew I was good when I came here. I just stayed focused and took advantage of the situation. I kept feeding off that support.”
A year after crashing out of the Giro, Pinotti finished in 33:06, 39 seconds ahead of Thomas and 53 seconds faster than Sergent.
“I am very happy with my ride today,” said Pinotti. “I was keeping this stage in mind. After the accident I had last year, I am content to get back to a good level. Maybe this result will help me gain a spot for the Olympic team.”
Rodríguez rolled down the start ramp in pink, but by the halfway point, the Spaniard had lost nearly all of his 31-second advantage. Up the road, Hesjedal drove across the downtown Milan roads, holding off Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) and Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM).
By the second intermediate checkpoint, 25 minutes into the stage, Rodriguez had ceded the virtual lead by 13 seconds to Hesjedal. The Canadian took risks, riding aggressively through the corners and appearing to nearly lose his bike on a number of occasions. He would hold on, however, and deliver the Giro win he targeted late in 2011.
“Up to the last bend I told myself anything could happen. I took every risk possible,” said Rodríguez. “I gave it my all. It was only at the finish that I knew I’d lost the Giro, and that makes it even harder.”
De Gendt, who shot up the GC on Saturday with his solo win atop the Passo dello Stelvio, moved ahead of Scarponi to finish third overall, behind Hesjedal and Rodríguez.
“Ryder was at 1:50, so I knew that winning was impossible,” said De Gendt. “I thought third place was possible, and maybe even second if Rodriguez had a very bad day. Third place is very good for me. I am very happy with this Giro.”
Ivan Basso, whose Liquigas-Cannondale team worked hard at the head of the peloton to set up the two-time champion, finished fifth overall.
This Giro has not happened as I hoped, like me and the team wanted. But it will not be my last Giro,” said Basso. “We have nothing we can blame. I declined and this is what explains the ranking. Next I will go to the Tour to help Vincenzo Nibali.”
This is the first time since 1995 that no Italian has finished on the final Giro podium.
Editor’s Note: Keep your browser pointed to VeloNews.com for more from stage 21 of the Giro d’Italia. Agence France Presse contributed to this report.