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Giro d'Italia

Time bonuses help end Ryder’s run in pink; he waxes philosophical about ceding maglia rosa

If not for the Giro's time bonuses, Ryder Hesjedal would still be in pink after today's stage instead of relinquishing it to Joaquim Rodriguez

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ASSISI, Italy (VN) – “These time bonuses are killing me!”

That was Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda), speaking to VeloNews just moments after ceding the pink jersey to Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) in Tuesday’s 10th stage at the Giro d’Italia.

Indeed, time bonuses ended the Canadian’s three-day run in pink. Rodríguez shaved 28 seconds off his overall GC time (8 seconds with third place in stage 8; 20 seconds for winning stage 10) over the past three days to take the pink jersey Tuesday. He’s now 17 seconds ahead of Hesjedal.

Hesjedal crossed the line sixth, at six seconds behind the Spanish climber on a narrow, twisting uphill finale into Assisi. Take away the bonuses, and Hesjedal would still be in pink by 11 seconds.

“If there were no time bonuses, I would still have the jersey,” Hesjedal told VeloNews. “Purito is the best in the world in these types of finishes. I wouldn’t want to wish my position on anyone.”

The final run up to Assisi was intense and Hesjedal didn’t go down without a fight. Garmin teammates Christian Vande Velde and Peter Stetina led Hesjedal into perfect position with 4km to go, where the first hard part of the climb to the spectacular hilltop town of Assisi featured ramps as steep as 15 percent.

Hesjedal shadowed Rodríguez, who was being paced by Katusha teammate Dani Moreno. There was a moment of panic in the final right-hander with about 700 meters to go when Hesjedal had to step out of his pedal.

“One of the last real hard switchbacks, the guys kind of hit the brakes. I crossed wheels and got my foot out and had to touch ground,” he said. “The pace over that first part of the climb was very hard. I was able to start the last approach right with Rodríguez. I am happy with how I rode today.”

Time bonuses remain a contentious issue inside the peloton. Sprinters and opportunists can use them to chase leaders’ jerseys, often livening up the first half of grand tours.

Purists say that time bonuses unfairly skew the GC and tilt the favor toward explosive riders, such as Katusha’s Rodríguez, who can pick up finish-line bonuses.

The Tour de France eliminated bonuses for that very reason three years ago. This year, the Giro has looked to balance the impact of the bonuses on the GC, eliminating the finish-line bonuses in five key mountain stages in the final two weekends of racing.

All that may come too late for Hesjedal, who tried to put a philosophical spin on Tuesday’s turn of events.

“I am completely satisfied. Three days in the jersey, it’s been amazing. I have no problems giving it up now to Rodriguez and carrying on with the rest of the race,” he said. “We need to think about Milan.”

Also watch: Video: Hesjedal has no problem giving up pink