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Giro d'Italia 2012: Stage 21


Hello and welcome to our coverage of the final stage of this year's Giro d'Italia, a 28.2km individual time trial through the streets of Milan.

Fittingly in this of all years we conclude in Milan, in the shadow of her great gothic masterpiece. The city is home to the Gazzetta dello Sport, to Italian cycling and – spiritually at least – to the Giro itself. In days of yore the race always finished here, and Acquarone is spot on in retaining this particular Giro tradition. It’s conceivable the race will be decided here, but in some respects this is about more than this particular edition. The Giro, a celebration of what it is to be Italian, has found its way home…

It’s fast and quite technical, and the specialists will really fancy it if they have survived the preceding three days

But the real battle for pink is still on with Rodriguez leading Hesjedal by just 31 seconds. This morning the course was shortened from 30km to 28.2 due to road works, and the Spaniard had a crash in training. He's okay to race, just suffering from a few minor scratches but the excitement continues to build.

Here's the final order for later this afternoon. :

Sky's Geraint Thomas has just started his time trial. He was second in the prologue and is a good shout for the win today.

1.Jesse Sergeant (RadioShack-Nissan) 33:59
2.Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Barracuda) 0:07
3.Maciej Bodnar (Liquigas-Cannondale) 0:22
4.Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge) 0:29
5.Ian Stannard (Sky) 0:31
6.Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) 0:31
7.Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing Team) 0:38
8.Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha) 0:54
9.Sebastien Rosseler (Garmin-Barracuda) 0:57
10.Ramunas Navardasuskas (Garmin-Barracuda) 1:10

That's where we stand with the stage results at present, riders are starting at one minute intervals at the moment, with Lars Bak having left the start house a few minutes ago.

Dutch TT champ Stef Clement is out on the road and he's one rider who could put in a good performance today. At this stage it will all depend on what he has left in the legs, after three weeks of racing and so many breakaway kms in his legs.

Once we get to Dupont the final set of riders will depart at 2 minute intervals.

Thomas is looking strong, pedalling smoothly through the corners.

Italian national tt champion, Malori, is also out on the course. He'll want to put in a decent performance on home roads, and he'll have one eye on the nationals which take place next month.

Thomas went through the first time check 4 seconds up on Sergeant.

The Sky rider has gone through the second time check 7 seconds in the lead. Shades of Wiggins in 2009, when he was in fine form but had to settle for second that day. Can Thomas go one better?

Jose Serpa is coming to the finish and he's actually done a pretty good job, slotting into 10th so far.

Thomas is coming to the line and it's going to be close.

There are a number of corners in the final 500meters.

33:44, so he leads by 14 seconds over the RadioShack rider.

1.Geraint Thomas (Sky) 33:45
2.Geraint Jesse Sergeant (RadioShack-Nissan) 0:14
3.Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Barracuda) 0:21
4.Maciej Bodnar (Liquigas-Cannondale) 0:36
5.Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge) 0:43
6.Julien Vermote (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) 0:44
7.Ian Stannard (Sky) 0:45
8.Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) 0:45
9.Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing Team) 0:52
10.Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha) 1:08

Marco Pinotti starts his TT. It will be interesting to see how he does on this course, it suits him, so he should crack into the top ten but I think he'll want to push even higher, for the win.

Samoilau, Sella and Pirazzi are all ahead of Pinotto and I wouldn't put it past him catching at least two of those riders.

Clement comes to the line but he wont trouble Thomas, finishing outside the provisional top 15.

Malori has 500 to go. He was 7th at both time checks, lets see if he can move up.

34:33 and 9th for the Lampre rider.

Pinotti has overtaken his minute man then Sella. Impressive riding for the former Italian national tt champion.

The BMC took both riders on the same short stretch of road. One rider he might have to watch for is Larsson who looks very strong at the moment.

Pinotti was 15 seconds faster than Thomas at the first time check.

Pinotti was 15 seconds faster than Thomas at the first time check.

Rabottini finishes. Well down in the stage but he's won the KOM so he wont give a dot about today's stage.

Larsson is 6th fastest at the second check point.

Pinotti was 26 seconds up at the second time check. At this rate he'll win the stage, surely?

Kreuziger starts his TT. 18 minutes down on GC after a one dreadful day in the mountains last week. He's shown pride and strength to come back and win a stage but he'll be frustrated with his overall performance.

1 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 91:04:16
2 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:31
3 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:01:51
4 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:02:18
5 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:03:18
6 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:03:43
7 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:04:52
8 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox 0:05:47
9 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:05:56
10 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:06:43

That's where we stand on GC. De Gendt has a good chance of moving up to 3rd.

Pinotti goes fastest 33:06, 39 seconds faster than Thomas. That will be hard to beat. Will BMC book end this Giro with stage wins?

Pozzovivo starts his TT. He should hold onto his 8th place without too much trouble

Uran will be the next rider to start, and then Cunego. Kreuziger isn't going full gas so he will not threaten today's stage.

Cunego is off. He moved up a few places yesterday. He's had an odd Giro though, and he appears caught between riding as a domestique and a GC leader in his own right.

1.Marco Pinotti (BMC) 33:06
2.Geraint Thomas (Sky) 0:39
3.Jesse Sergeant (RadioShack-Nissan) 0:53
4.Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Barracuda) 1:02
5.Gustav Erik Larsson (Vacansoleil) 1:14
6.Maciej Bodnar (Liquigas-Cannondale) 1:15
7.Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge) 1:22
8.Julien Vermote (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) 1:23
9.Ian Stannard (Sky) 1:24
10.Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) 1:24

De Gendt is in the start house. What has he got left in the tank and can he wrestle the final podium place from Scarponi.

De Gendt is 2:18 down on Rodriguez in case you were wondering. Surely he can't turn that around and take second.

Scarponi is off. He has to pull out a ride today because if he doesnt take third overall it will be the firs time since 1995 that an Italian has finished off the podium in the Giro.

Hesjedal moves into the start house. He'll be setting off in just over 60 seconds from now for the biggest ride of his life.

Meanwhile Vande Velde comes over the line in 14th place.

Rodriguez is off.

Down the ramp and out of the saddle.

Hesjedal takes one corner on the limit, almost taking out a member of the crowd. He's got to keep it together but ride aggressively. Controlled aggression.

Rodriguez rides right on the tip of the saddle in order to give him as much power on the pedals as possible.

The Canadian has to bring back just over 1 second per km.

Cunego was a minute down at the first time check

Hesjedal and Rodriguez will be getting time checks at every opportunity. This could be very, very, close. On paper the Canadian is the better TT rider, he should put around a minute into the Spaniard but anything can happen as we've seen throughout this Giro.

De Gendt comes to the time check point 5th fastest, 28 seconds down on Pinotti. That's going to put Scarponi under huge pressure.

Scarponi will be the next rider to the time check

Scarponi is 39 seconds down on Pinotti so 11 down on De Gendt.

Hesjedal will be next....

De Gendt just churns a huge gear.

Hesjedal is 1 second faster than De Gendt.

Rodriguez certainly looks fast but we'll have to wait for the time check. He has 31 seconds to play with.

The Spaniard has lost some time that;s for sure.

14:24 so he's almost out of the pink jersey already. Incredible.

Rodriguez has lost 29 second at 11km. It's not looking good for the Spaniard.

The gap is now at 33 seconds, so Hesjedal is riding to the Giro d'Italia title.

Could the podium be Hesjedal, De Gendt, Rodriguez? It's possible...

10km to go for Hesjedal and bar disaster he'll win the Giro. He almost lost it on a corner but he saves it.

Gadret and Pozzovivo have both crossed the line, not together but we'll bring you their time later.

Hesjedal is really taking some risks on the corners.

He comes to the second time check, 4th fastest.

It sounds like Megatron is shouting orders at De Gendt from the team car.

As Uran crosses the line.

Another tight corner but Hesjedal takes it without any problems.

The Spaniard needs a miracle and Hesjedal is leading the Giro because the gap between them is 44 seconds.

Hesjedal has some great bike riding skills from his MTB days and he's demonstrating them today.

Basso has finished well.

De Gendt is on the final set of corners. He approaches the line and finishes with a time of 34:07

We cut to Scarponi who is fighting for every second.

Rodriguez is still battling away but Scarponi is the rider we're watching now.

Scarponi is coming to the line.

He's not going to do it. De Gendt is going to take a place on the podium.

It's safe to say that Pinotti has won the TT today.

Hesjedal is coming to the line.

34:15 for the Canadian. Is that enough?

He's mobbed at the finish but he still has to wait for Rodriguez.

He's hugging his wife at the barriers.

Here comes Rodriguez.

200 meters to go.

It's close but the Spaniard crosses the line in 35:01.

So Hesjedal has won the 2012 Giro d'Italia, Rodriguez is second and Thomas De Gendt takes third.

Hesjedal becomes Canada's first winner of a grand tour beating Rodriguez by just 16 seconds.

You have to say that over the three weeks they were the two strongest riders in the race and there was very little between them.

Brief Results
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Marco Pinotti (Ita) BMC Racing Team 33:06:00
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:39
3 Jesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:53
4 Alex Rasmussen (Den) Garmin - Barracuda 0:01:01
5 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
6 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 0:01:09
7 Gustav Larsson (Swe) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:01:14
8 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:01:15
9 Svein Tuft (Can) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team 0:01:22
10 Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:01:23

Final general classification # Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 91:39:02
2 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:00:16
3 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:01:39
4 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:02:05
5 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:03:44
6 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:04:40
7 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:05:57
8 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox 0:06:28

Thank for joining us today, and for the last three weeks, for what has been an exceptional Giro. We  hope that you've enjoyed the coverage and we'll see you again at the Dauphine.

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