The Giro d’Italia is on the verge of enjoying its first Canadian win tomorrow in Milan if Ryder Hesjedal succeeds in conquering Joaquin Rodriguez. After years of European winners, it’s a refreshing welcome for the race organiser.

“A Canadian winner like him wouldn’t be bad, honestly. No, not at all,” the Giro’s operations director, Mauro Vegni told Cycling Weekly. The sun glistened off the snow above the Stelvio Pass at 2757 metres.

Team Garmin-Barracuda’s Hesjedal just finished the race, limited his losses to 14 seconds on Rodriguez of team Katusha. He sits only 31 seconds behind Rodriguez ahead of the final 30-kilometre time trial tomorrow in Milan, a discipline that suits him.

The race has seen only two winners from outside Eurasia, Stephen Roche in 1987 and Andy Hampsten in 1988.

“Besides an international touch, he showed to be strong, to be there, to merit the win. It’s good for the Giro to have an international win. We started in Denmark with an American, we continued and touched all the continents. To continue with a Canadian winner gives the race even more of an international feel.”

Hesjedal gained his advantage thanks to time trials, the individual one in Herning on the first day – 17th – and the team event in Verona – first. Garmin put Ramunas Navardauskas in the pink jersey thanks to its win. Hesjedal gained it in the medium mountains down south and again, for one day after the stage to Cervinia, in the Alps up north. Since, he maintained eye on Spain’s Rodriguez, never letting him get far, even attacking him yesterday and today.

“I think we’ve all under-evaluated him a little bit. He had a bit of bad luck last year, but riders who’ve finished in the top 10 of the Tour de France should never be underestimated,” Vegni continued. “I think they all unevaluated him, gave him a little too much at the start when instead, they should have kept him under control.

“He showed that he was strong, never tiring, and he even went out on the attack. This shows he’s a true champion. I’m not one to make bets, but I get the impression that tomorrow the race winners name on the trophy will be his.”

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Giro d’Italia 2012: Live coverage

Giro d’Italia 2012 live text coverage and schedule

Giro d’Italai 2012 stage 13 live text coverage

Giro d’Italia 2012 stage 12 live text coverage

Giro d’Italia 2012 stage 10 live text coverage

Giro d’Italia 2012 stage six live text coverage

Giro d’Italia 2012 stage four live text coverage

Giro d’Italia 2012: Stage reports

Stage 20: De Gendt conquers Stelvio to win stage

Stage 19: Kreuziger bounces back with Giro stage win

Stage 18: Guardini beats Cavendish in final Giro sprint

Stage 17: Rodriguez wins stage to consolidate lead

Stage 16: Izagirre claims Basque breakaway victory

Stage 15: Rabottini takes tough win in Giro

Stage 14: Amador wins Giro’s first high mountain stage as Hesjedal reclaims lead

Stage 13: Cavendish makes it three

Stage 12: Bak attacks to win

Stage 11: Ferrari wins Giro stage on ride to redemption

Stage 10: Rodriguez wins thrilling finale to take lead

Stage nine: Ventoso wins in Frosinone as Goss and Cavendish fall

Stage eight: Pozzovivo takes another Giro win

Stage seven: Hesjedal moves into Giro lead

Stage six: Rubiano solos to epic Giro stage win

Stage five: Cavendish bounces back for another stage win

Stage four: Garmin-Barracuda win TTT to take lead

Stage three: Goss wins in Horsens as Cavendish and Phinney crash

Stage two: Cavendish wins in Herning

Stage one: Phinney wins time trial

Giro d’Italia 2012: Photo galleries

Stage 19 photo gallery

Stage 18 photo gallery

Stage 17 photo gallery

Stage 16 photo gallery

Stage 15 photo gallery

Stage 14 photo gallery

Stage 13 photo gallery

Stage 12 photo gallery

Stage 11 photo gallery

Stage 10 photo gallery

Stage nine photo gallery

Stage eight photo gallery

Stage seven photo gallery

Stage six photo gallery

Stage five photo gallery

Stage four photo gallery

Stage three photo gallery

Stage two photo gallery

Stage one photo gallery

Giro d’Italia 2012: Blogs

Charly Wegelius’ Giro blog: Conserving energy for the final week

Charly Wegelius’ Giro blog: Holding on to the lead

Charly Wegelius’ Giro blog: Getting the team time trial right

Giro moto blog: Hurray for rest day

Giro moto blog: Stage 10

Giro d’Italia 2012: Teams and riders

Giro d’Italia 2012 start list

Giro d’Italia 2012: TV guide

Giro d’Italia 2012: British Eurosport TV schedule

Related links

Giro d’Italia 2012: The Big Preview

Cycling Weekly’s Giro d’Italia section