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Ryder Hesjedal - 2012 Giro d'Italia Champion
May 28th, 12. Ryder Hesjedal has his named etched in the Giro d'Italia history books as the 2012 champion, helped to his tour success by Kiwi teammate Jack Bauer.
The 31 year old Canadian from Garmin Barracuda tailed leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) by 31sec heading into the final decisive stage, a 30km individual time trial around Milan.
For Rodriguez the buffer was not enough, with Hesjedal finishing 47sec ahead of the Spaniard to etch his name into the history books.
Hesjedal's Giro journey
Hesjedal first stood on the Giro d'Italia podium on Stage 4, the first day the race was in Italy, when his Garmin-Barracuda team blitzed the team time trial in Verona.
The massive team effort ensured that the Hesjedal did not lose anytime to his GC rivals so early in the game.
The medium mountains allowed Hesjedal to climb into the overall lead, wearing the Maglia Rosa for three stages before losing it to Rodriguez in Assis on Stage 10.
His race winning move came when attacked with 2km to go on the Alpe di Pampeago in Stage 19, leaving Rodriguez in his wake as he charged to the finish line, halving the Spaniard's lead.
Rodriguez fought hard the next stage to claw back his lead, but Hesjedal's Stage 19 attack had been enough to damage Rodriguez's reserves and confidence for the final stage.
Hesjedal was reunited with the Maglia Rosa at the conclusion of Stage 21.
Kiwi helps Hesjedal to victory
Jack Bauer finished his first ever Grand Tour in style - winning a stage and helping his teammate to overall victory.
Before the start of the Tour, Bauer told RoadCycling.co.nz personal success for him would be completing the Grand Tour.
Not only did he do this, but he picked up some accolades along the way.
The 2010 NZ Road Champion was one of the big engines that drove the Garmin-Barracuda team to team time trial success on Stage 4.
Bauer then spent the remainder of the tour supporting his teammates to deliver Hesjedal to success, including being involved in the breakaway on Stage 6 which positioned Hesjedal to be able to climb into the Maglia Rosa on the next stage.
It's a victory for the team, it's a victory for Bauer.
Settling for second
Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) rode an audacious tour, spending 9 Stages in the Maglia Rosa and becoming known for his late attacks on uphill stage finishes.
Hesjedal weakened Rodriguez on Stage 19, and the climbing specialist was unable to protect his lead in the final race against the clock.
"I'm sorry because we fought for win all 21 days long," said the Katusha team leader after losing the Maglia Rosa on the final stage.
"The team worked hard and great, and I think I did a good final ITT too: unfortunately, Ryder was better than me, so congratulations to him, he deserved this victory."
"The gap between us is very poor, but it's useless to think now of when I lost this competition, whether I could do something better or not: that's cycling, everyday is important, we did our best but Hesjedal was great. Now we have to think about our future: we did a great 'Giro', we must continue to work and train like this, because that's the good path."
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