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Canada's Hesjedal makes cycling history by winning Giro d'Italia

updated 2:12 PM EDT, Sun May 27, 2012
Canada's Ryder Hesjedal has finished the Giro d'Italia in the famous Maglia Rosa after a superb performance over three weeks
Canada's Ryder Hesjedal has finished the Giro d'Italia in the famous Maglia Rosa after a superb performance over three weeks
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Garmin rider Ryder Hesjedal wins Giro d'Italia in Milan
  • Hesjedal first Canadian to claim one of cycling's major tours
  • He overhauls Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez on final time trial stage
  • Marco Pinotti of Italy wins the 28.2 km test against the clock

(CNN) -- Ryder Hesjedal became the first Canadian to win one of cycling's three major tours as he claimed victory in the Giro d'Italia Sunday.

The 31-year-old Garmin rider snatched the pink jersey from Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez on the final time trial stage in Milan, forging a winning margin of just 16 seconds after 21 stages.

Hesjedal had trailed Rodriguez by 31 seconds ahead of the 28.2 km individual test and sixth place behind stage winner Marco Pinotti was enough to seal his narrow win.

The pair had battled through most of the latter stages of the Giro for overall victory with two grueling legs in the Alps ahead of the time trial proving decisive.

Hesjedal kept close enough to Rodriguez to lay the foundations for his triumphant finale as the stronger rider against the clock.

Belgian Thomas De Gendt, who rode so superbly to win Saturday's penultimate stage, was rewarded with third place on the podium, one minute 39 seconds behind the winner.

For home riders it has proved a difficult Giro, with last year's winner Michele Scarponi in fourth and Ivan Basso fifth.

It was the first time since 1995 that no Italian riders had made the final podium.

Small consolation came in the form of Pinotti's commanding final day victory, finishing 39 seconds clear of Britain's Geraint Thomas (Sky) with Jesse Sergent of New Zealand third.

The Giro d'Italia is the first of the three major tours to take place, with the Tour de France starting in July ahead of the Tour of Spain in September.

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