|Garmin-Barracuda's Ryder Hesjedal of Canada celebrates on the podium as he wears the leader pink jersey after the 205-km seventh stage of the Giro d'Italia from Recanati to Rocca di Cambio May 12, 2012. (Alessandro Garofalo/REUTERS)
British Columbian cyclist Ryder Hesjedal passed into the annals of Canadian sports history Saturday as he became the first Canadian racer to don the famous pink shirt, awarded to the leader of the Giro d’Italia.
Victoria native Hesjedal finished in the fifth row of the seventh stage, improving on Paolo Tiralongo’s overall standing by 15 seconds.
“This is a great result. Wearing the Pink jersey is what every rider thrives for at the Giro d’Italia,” said Jaques Landry, high performance director at the Canadian Cycling Association. “Having a Canadian wearing the pink jersey is an indicator that Canada is getting stronger as a cycling nation. Every cyclist and cycling fan in Canada should be proud of the accomplishment.”
Only Canadian cycling legend, Steve Bauer, currently directing the SpiderTech team, at the Amgen Tour of California, came close to winning the pink jersey in 1987. Bauer came within 0.3 seconds of donning the much-coveted shirt.
“It’s awesome, certainly a landmark accomplishment. It shows the progress of our nation. Ryder is without a doubt a leader in the progress, on a large scale. It gives the inspiration of the guys on Team SpiderTech and everyone in Canada to do the same. It’s long overdue, and great to see,” said Bauer.
The Giro d’Italia is a 21-day race spanning 3,493 kilometres.