When great Canadian cyclists come to mind, you have to think of Steve Bauer, Lori-Ann Muenzer and Curt Harnett. Well folks, you now have company.
On Sunday, Ryder Hesjedal of Victoria, British Columbia became the first Canadian ever to win a major cycling race.
Down by 31 seconds heading into Sunday’s final stage of Giro d’Italia, Hesjedal made up the time and more by becoming the first Canadian to win one of cycling’s three major tour races. The other two majors on the Grand Tour of cycling are the Tour de France which is held in July and Vuelta a Espana held in August in Spain.
Hesjedal beat Spain’s Joaquin Rodriguez by 16 seconds to win the fourth closest race in Giro d’Italia history. Italian Fiorenzo Magni won by 11 seconds in 1948 and again by 13 seconds in 1955 and then Belgian great Eddy Merckx won by 12 seconds in 1974.
With the win, Hesjedal instantly becomes an early favourite to win the Lou Marsh Award as the top Canadian athlete in 2012, regardless what happens at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.