Whoever said dirt and tar don’t mix got it way wrong. Most pro mountain bikers integrate training on the road bike, and in the early days of XC racing some roadies would make the transition to the dirt. But the opposite has been in effect in recent years, of course Cadel Evans winning the Tour de France last year being the most notable (and Floyd Landis before him). Now Canadian former XC star Ryder Hesjedal has taken out the second biggest Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia.

Hesjedal had worn the leader’s pink jersey earlier in the three week tour, and strong riding in the mountain stages saw him within reach of leader Joaquim Rodriguez going into the final time trial, where his superior skills against the clock enabled him to wipe out the 31 second deficit and win the overall title by a slim 16 seconds.

Hesjedal had ridden on the dirt for Gary Fisher and Trek, and won silver medals in the U23 and Elite World Championships in 2001 and 2003 respectively. He becomes the first Canadian ever to win a Grand Tour.

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