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This year's individual time trial in Milan finishes on Piazza Duomo where last race year's concluded as well

May 26 update: A flat, technical 32 km individual time-trial in downtown Milan concludes this year's race. This course is similar to last year which also finished on Piazza Duomo, but it's 6 2 km longer and includes three u-turns/turnarounds.

Here is how things sit heading into the final day...

After wearing the Maglia Rosa for all but one of the last 11 days, Joaquim Rodriguez is expected to lose more than 31 seconds to Ryder Hesjedal in the individual time-trial which would make it only the second time in Giro history that the Maglia Rosa has changed hands on the final day. In 1984, Francesco Moser handily beat Laurent Fignon in a final day time-trial to a claim a controversial win after the Queen stage of the race was cancelled due to bad weather.

At last year's 6 2 km shorter and less technical Milan ITT finale, Joaquim Rodriguez finished 40th, 2:14 behind David Millar's winning time and 1:38 behind Alberto Contador. This year, Rodriguez had a very respectable prologue way back at the beginning of the month in Denmark finishing + 14s on Hesjedal's time over 8.7 km. And back in April, he lost only 22s to winner Samuel Sanchez in a technical, 19 km time-trial at Tour of the Basque Country. Racing last in the Pink Jersey should give Rodriguez extra motivation although he did produce a horrible time-trial effort while wearing the leader's jersey at the Vuelta a Espana last year. Bottom line: Ryder Hesjedal has had a much better record as a time-trialist and he should erase the 31 second deficit to become the first Canadian to win a Grand Tour.

Luckily for Rodriguez, he pulled back enough time on Stage 20 winner Thomas de Gendt in the final kilometers up the Stelvio otherwise we might be talking about Rodriguez slipping down to third which could still happen. De Gendt will, however, erase the 27 second deficit on Michele Scarponi to claim at least the third and final podium position. At last year's Tour de France, de Gendt finished 4th in the individual time-trial that followed his 6th place finish on the Alpe d'Huez stage so his impressive Stelvio win has added more drama to the Milan finale.

So if it plays out as expected, then when was the last time an Italian didn't finished on the final podium at the Giro d'Italia? Send me an email if you know. (Update: 1995 w/ 1st Tony Rominger (Switzerland), 2nd Eugeni Berzin (Russia), 3rd Piotr Ugrumov (Latvia). Thanks to Arnaud Hirtz for the answer and for all his French preview translations this month) — Steve

Stage 21 ITT Start Order and Times (CET, subtract 6 hours for ET) — biciciclismo
Big Photos from the 2011 Milan ITTsirotti/rcs