Well, that was a hell of a weekend. Thankfully the new modem fixed things. To have a three-week race and over 92 hours of riding come down to the last few minutes is remarkable. Just sixteen seconds made Ryder Hesjedal the last wearer of the pink jersey in the Giro and the first Canadian and second North-American, after Andy Hampsten in 1992, to win the great race. I remember Steve Bauer wearing the yellow jersey in the Tour de France for nine days. This was much better.
This Giro may not have had as memorable a stage as Hampsten’s climb through snow over the Gavia but it had more of them and the last two days in the Dolomites were brutal and fantastic. When you see aerobic freaks like Scarponi reach for the fence in to stop from falling down at the finish of stage 19, eyes empty, mouth agape, you know it was hard. Ryder was sitting like a rag doll. It was down to the wire even on the Stelvio, with Rodriguez attacking too late to gain enough time on Ryder, and the stage winner, De Gendt, rocketing off to be a big threat and gain enough to make it onto the podium, even being the virtual leader at one point until Ryder took control and got back two minutes in the final kilometres.
The race was so good that had Hesjedal not won, it wouldn’t have been that disappointing because Rodriguez would’ve earned it.
I remember decades ago watching a Canadian Tire road race in Edmonton in which my brother was racing and Brian Walton of the Motorola team came, fresh from racing in the Giro that year. I sat up at the top of what I thought a steep hill with my Super 8 camera to get shots when they were going slowly. Walton just stomped up the thing in his big ring and I couldn’t believe it. What’s more incredible is that the guys like Ryder and Rodriguez are a level beyond that. As Bob Roll writes in his book on his time racing, ‘it’s amazing how fast those lunkheads can go on a bike.’
Congrats also to the three other Canucks who finished the damn thing, an incredible feat.