The Italian contenders for the Giro d’Italia already feared Ryder Hesjedal after his powerful ride on the first day in the Dolomites. Now they’re officially terrified and demoralized.
On the final climb up the Alpe di Pampeago, Michele Scarponi put in three hard attacks and finally succeeded in dropping Ivan Basso and Joaquin Rodriguez.
The only trouble was he failed to dislodge Hesjedal who easily covered the accelerations. Then in the final kilometer Scarponi received a terrible shock –the Garmin-Barracuda rider drops him.
While Roman Kreuziger salvaged his poor Giro with the stage win, it felt like it was Hesjedal who cracked all his rivals. With the final time trial in Milan clearly in his favor and now lying just 19 seconds behind Rodriguez, only a total collapse on the Stelvio will stop him from winning the Giro d’Italia and becoming the first Canadian ever to win a grand tour. Not to mention giving Garmin-Barracuda their first victory in grand tour-land.
“Today was an important day. I showed where I’m at, said Hesjedal. “I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.” Two Dolomites down, one to go. Yup, see you in Milan and bring the empty champagne glasses.
Scarponi killed himself trying to lose Hesjedal but it wasn’t to be. “I gave absolutely everything but Hesjedal was just too strong,” said Scarponi at the finish line. Ivan Basso and Rodriguez aren’t going to disagree — only a desperate final acceleration from Purito saved his maglia rosa.
Basso put him men on the front to set a tough pace but Garmin was just as strong with Peter Stetina and veteran Christian Vande Velde also driving the pace. The group whittled down to a deja vu of the first Dolomite stage with Ribogerto Uran, Basso, Rodriguez, Scarponi and Hesjedal the best of the best.
Purito got another day in pink and the big champagne spray but it must feel like he’s down to his last bottle. Shortly after the stage Basso and Rodriguez were already writing their concession speeches.
“Hesjedal has shown he is the strongest,” said Basso. “When someone is the strongest, we only have to congratulate him.” The two-time champion knows when the handwriting is on the wall and the fat opera lady is singing.
Purito is down to his last Dolomite and the view isn’t too scenic. “We were supposed to drop Ryder Hesjedal but it’s been the opposite. Hesjedal gave us a lesson,” said Rodriguez. “Now the Giro is in his hands. If he doesn’t make any mistake tomorrow, he’ll be the winner.”
Bring on the Stelvio. Expect plenty of attacks but don’t expect Hesjedal to crack.