MILAN, ITALY (NEWS1130) – Victoria’s Ryder Hesjedal took over the lead after the second checkpoint in the final stage of the Giro d’Italia, and never looked back as he became the first Canadian to win a Grand Tour.

Hesjedal began the final stage, a 30-kilometre time trial, 31 seconds back of Joaquin Rodriguez for the lead. After cutting 29 seconds off that lead at the first checkpoint, Hesjedal took a 13-second advantage at the second checkpoint and crossed the finish line in 34:15 for a total of 91:39:02.

Hesjedal finished 16 seconds ahead of Rodriguez overall to claim the title.

The 21-stage race through Italy and the surrounding area began in Denmark on May 5, and spanned 3,501 kilometres.

It is the second biggest race in cycling behind only the Tour De France.

“It terms of its difficulty and the technical climbs that an athlete has to endure. It’s in many aspects considered the sister race to the Tour de France. This is a huge coup for Canadian cycling,” believes Cycling BC‘s Todd Hansen.

He thinks the win will generate interests in bike racing locally and sets Hesjedal up for a big summer.

“I’m sure it takes bit of pressure off him for the next race because the Tour de France will be coming up in July. I think he’ll be able to go into that race in a different position with a lot more confidence.”

Seven-time Tour De France winner Lance Armstrong congratulated the Canadian champion via Twitter shortly after the final stage wrapped up. “Congratulations to @ryder_hesjedal on his incredible victory in the #giro. Gotta love it when the best man wins.”

The 31-year-old’s best previous finish at a Grand Tour was when he came in sixth-place at the 2010 Tour De France.

For up to the minute Sports coverage, you can follow us on Twitter @News1130Sports or subscribe to breaking news alerts sent directly to your inbox. We also have sports reports at :15 and :45.