Our First Ever Canuck Cycling Grand Tour Champion Today?

Canadian Ryder Hesjedal grinding it out ahead of Joachim Rodriguez of Spain in yesterday’s 20th stage of the Giro d’Italia

This morning, Canadian Ryder Hesjedal is poised to become the first Canadian ever to win a major Grand Tour cycling event, the Giro d’Italia. Tune in to Sportsnet (Channel 99 on Rogers Cable in Toronto) to watch the event. Coverage begins at 9:30 AM here and the last five riders are scheduled to begin their rides at 10:32. Our guy Hesjedal, just 31 seconds behind leaderJoaquin Rodriguez of Spain,  will  start at 10:38 and Rodriguez will start at 10:40 AM. It’ll all be over, except for the pink jersey ceremony, the kisses and the champagne squirtfest at about 11:10 today. Coverage is from 9:30 to 11:30. Each rider is expected to complete his time trial in about 30 minutes.

Hesjedal, only half a minute slower than Joaquin Rodriguez after over 91 hours of cycling, is much better in the individual time trial events. Barring an unexpected incredible time trial performance from Rodriguez of Spain or Thomas De Gendt of Belgium, mechanical problems or a fall, Hesjedal is expected to win. De Gendt is a good time trialler like Hesjedal, but De Gendt is not expected to be able to make up a large differential of 1 minute 47 seconds between his time and Hejedal’s. The other two men in the top five, Michele Scarponi and Ivan Basso of Italy, are not expected to be fast enough to get to the top of the podium.

Today’s final stage is a time trial in Milan, Italy. Today, 157 riders will begin the route at 2 minute intervals, with the last 5 riders being the 5 leaders. The time they take to ride this 21st and last stage will be added to their total time for the previous 20 stages, and the GC (General Classification) winner will be the one with the fastest total time.