Giro shorts: Stage 21 review

Stage 21 – Milan individual time trial, 30.9km

Stage profile: A technical individual time trial through the streets of Milan. It was shortened to 28km due to roadworks.

Top three for the stage: 1.Marco Pinotti (BMC), 2. Geraint Thomas (Sky) +0:39, 3. Jesse Sergent (RadioShack-Nissan) +0:53.

Top three overall: 1. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda), 2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +0.16, 3. Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) +1.39.

How the stage was won: Marco Pinotti put in the best time for the stage win, making it a BMC top-and-tail as teammate Taylor Phinney won stage one, but it was the battle for the final podium that was the focus of this last stage of a phenomenal edition of the Giro d’Italia. Not only was the maglia rosa up for grabs, but one – possibly two – steps on the podium. At the start of the day, Ryder Hesjedal was sitting in second with everyone and their brother expecting him to easily make up the 31 seconds deficit to Joaquim Rodriguez. Michele Scarponi (Lampre) was in third place, with a gutsy Thomas De Gendt only 27 seconds behind in fourth.

A kiss and confetti for the victor

Could Ryder ride to pink glory – the first Canadian to win a Grand Tour ever? Would Rodriguez lose the maglia rosa and the red points jersey? Would Scarponi be on the podium and if so where? And did De Gendt ever want to see a bike again – let alone sit on the damn thing – after Saturday’s epic ride?

The answers are as follows. Yes: this is only the second time in the Giro’s 95-year history that the maglia rosa changed hands on the final day (1984 was the only other time – Francesco Moser took the lead from Laurent Fignon). Yes and no: Rodriguez gave up the pink jersey but kept the red one, pipping Mark Cavendish to the post by one point. No: Scarponi just didn’t have it in him today. Yes: De Gendt took what he had left from the Stelvio yesterday and left it on the streets of Milan.

Quotes of the day: 

Marco Pinotti on his stage win:

I won the last time trial here at the Giro in 2008 and I was second in 2010 and last year it was a big goal. But I crashed two days before and had to go to the hospital. So I’ve been working for this for a year. For me, it’s been a difficult Giro. I was trying to save all my energy for this in the last week.

A delighted Thomas De Gendt:

It is surrealistic, a few days ago I hoped to be in the top ten and now I am on the podium in my second Grand Tour ever!”

A realistic Joaquim Rodriguez in the morning before the stage. hopeful for a miracle which never materialised:

Ryder [Hesjedal] is the favourite to win. I’m not saying that I can’t beat him but I’m being realistic, I’m telling myself that I need a miracle.

And finally, the winner himself:

It’s unbelievable. I knew I was good when I came to this race, I just stayed focused every day and took every opportunity. The team was behind me 100% and I kept driving off that support, and especially the fans back home in Canada, it’s been unreal.

Odd occurrences: BMC’s Taylor Phinney was hoping to finish his first Giro as he started it – with a TT win. However, the lead moto took a wrong turn, taking Phinney off course, forcing him to turn around to get back on the track.

VeloVoices rider of the stage: I have four. Hesjedal for keeping his cool when he had the world waiting for him to win. Rodriguez for making up time on the course so that the final seconds before he came over the line were still suspenseful. De Gendt for rising to the occasion and riding hard again today. And Marco Pinotti, who broke his hip last year on stage 19 and has been working hard to get back in form. Chapeau to you all.

General classification:

1. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) 91:39:02

2. Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) +0:16

3. Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) +1:39

4. Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) +2:05

5. Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) +3:44

6. Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) +4:40

7. Rigoberto Uran (Sky) +5:57

8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF Inox) +6:28

9. Sergio Henao (Sky) +7:50

10. Mikel Nieve (Euskatel-Euskadi) +8:08

Points winner: Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).

King of the Mountains winner: Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia).

Best young rider: Rigoberto Uran (Sky).

Link: Official website

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