Ryder Hesjedal Interview: On form and targeting Giro d’Italia GC
  November 01, 2014 Login  

Current Articles    |   Archives    |   RSS Feeds    |   Search

Monday, May 07, 2012

Ryder Hesjedal Interview: On form and targeting Giro d’Italia GC

by Shane Stokes at 6:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Giro d'Italia
 
Garmin Barracuda rider represents best North American hope in battle for Maglia Rosa

Ryder HesjedalIt’s now 24 years since Steve Bauer took fourth place overall in the 1988 Tour de France, a placing which remains the highest finish to date by a Canadian rider in a Grand Tour.

Bauer’s performance was a notable one, particularly as the rider was generally regarded as one more suited for single day events and shorter stage races. But, being in the form of his life, he won the opening stage of that Tour and held the yellow jersey for five days.

Now compatriot Ryder Hesjedal is aiming to clock up another major Grand Tour performance for Canada and, if things go to plan, he’ll equal or improve on Bauer’s placing of fourth. The Garmin Barracuda rider has focused his season on being good for the Italian race, and believes it is possible to step up from the sixth place finish he achieved in the 2010 Tour de France.

“I would like to push higher than I have been. That is always the goal, to keep improving,” he told VeloNation on the eve of the race start.

“I look at the Tour in the last couple of years, the way I have been able to ride in the last week. That is what I am looking towards in this Giro... I am looking to push up there. If I look at the riders who are here, it is pretty open. I want to be one of those guys pushing close to the top.

“I think it is realistic and that is what I am focused on.”

Hesjedal will today ride the third stage of the race. Thus far, everything is going to plan. The Giro started with an 8.7 kilometre time trial in Herning. Before the stage, the 31 year old explained what he would like to achieve. “I’d be happy gaining time on other GC riders, for sure,” he said.

Consider that mission accomplished. Hesjedal rode well in the flat, technical test, driving his Cervélo P5 to seventeenth place. He was 29 seconds behind the winner Tayler Phinney (BMC Racing Team), but took time out of every top ten GC contender apart from Phinney’s team-mate Marco Pinotti, who was five seconds quicker.

Those he beat included Roman Kreuziger (Astana, seven seconds slower), Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale, ten seconds), Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Katusha Team, fourteen), Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan, 30), Damiano Cunego (Lampre – ISD, 34), last year’s winner Michele Scarponi (Lampre – ISD, 37), José Rujano Guillen (Androni Giocattoli, 38) and John Gadret (AG2R La Mondiale , 47 seconds).

Hesjedal then avoided trouble on yesterday’s first road stage, rolling in towards the front of the peloton and ending the day eighteenth overall.

He’ll aim to do the same today, then look to gain further time on his rivals in Wednesday’s team time trial in Verona.

Hesjedal answered a range of questions prior to the start, talking on his buildup and form, his performances this spring, his assessment of his Giro rivals and his goal for the race.

VeloNation: First off, Ryder, how have you felt in the build-up to this race?

Ryder Hesjedal: Good. Everything has gone to plan…it was a gradual spring, I got in all the races I was supposed to, got through the Ardennes good, and topped up in Romandie with some good racing. The team was excellent there, it was perfect.

I didn’t start the last day. I finished the big road stage on Saturday, then didn’t do the TT on Sunday in order to get an extra day recovery. We had to come up here on Tuesday, so it was a pretty quick turnaround.

Ryder HesjedalVN: What is the highlight of your spring – was it your top ten in Liège?

RH: Well, I am definitely pleased with the ride…not just myself with ninth place, but Dan [Martin] in fifth. We had two guys there in the top ten, and were fighting for the podium right into the final. It was a great ride, as was the whole Ardennes week. In Amstel, we had eighth with Fabian [Wegmann] and a couple more guys in the front group in the top twenty.

I had a good ride and was on the attack in the final of Flèche, and Dan was sixth. As a collective group, we had great results in the Ardennes. That was definitely a good marker in the spring.

I was already pleased with my condition in Pais Vasco. I had a couple of top tens and was right up there on the selective days. It was a good time to be coming around after a slower start. I only started in Europe in Catalunya, basically, so that was good.

Also in Romandie I felt good, I had a stab at the second stage there. The team was riding well and we were going for it.

VN: In Flèche Wallonne, you attacked before the final ascent of the Mur de Huy. Was the plan for you to play your cards there, then let Dan Martin make his move on the Mur if you were brought back?

RH: Yeah, we had enough guys. We had Christophe [Le Mevel], Dan, Fabian, myself, all suited to the final. It was a different final this year, so I gave it a try and put pressure on the race. It got those guys to sit behind and take a chance. If I had arrived at the bottom of the Mur with [Joaquim] Rodriguez, if anyone does, it would have been very tough…he showed us there what he can do. It is definitely a race to take a chance and look for a head start.

VN: What do you see as your goal for the this? You’ve been top ten in the Tour, so what is possible in the Giro?

RH: Well, I would like to push higher than I have been. That is always the goal, to keep improving.

I haven’t ridden in the Giro for classification before. I only finished it once, in 2008. 2005 was my other start. That was early in my road career, my first year just after stopping mountainbiking. I had done a really heavy spring, then crashed hard on the fifth stage. The Giro wasn’t too kind to me in 2005. It was important in 2008, and I think that was one of the toughest ones.

To get through that was huge, it set me up for the Tour and then on to last year. I look at the Tour in the last couple of years, the way I have been able to ride in the last week. That is what I am looking towards in this Giro.

I want to stay out of trouble and take advantage in the team time trial. I think we have a very strong team for that, and I think we have an advantage of being able to gain some time. I want to just get to the last week in the best shape possible and then let the race decide.

Overall, I am looking to push up there. If I look at the riders who are here, it is pretty open…I want to be one of those guys pushing close to the top. I think it is realistic and that is what I am focused on.

VN: Who do you see as being the guys on form?

RH: I think Scarponi – he has obviously proven himself here, that is clear. I think Roman [Kreuziger] has been looking good, I think Rodriguez also. If you look at the amount of climbing in the last week, it suits him. He has been riding the Giro and done well in the last years.

So they would be my first three.

Frank [Schleck] has obviously proven himself in Grand Tours, although he had a bit of surprise start here. But who knows? Sometimes that can be the difference for doing really well…who knows.

There’s a few other guys, but those are the main ones.

Ryder HesjedalVN: Let’s talk about the team structure. Is it the case that you are the clear leader on the team and guys like Christian Vande Velde will support you?

RH: Yeah, the team put me forward for the GC. Christian comes here with a lighter spring, and is looking to come out of the Giro really focused on the Tour de France. That is the goal for him. He wants to come here to support me and to ride well here.

The team has put me up for this as they think it suits me. Peter [Stetina] is another trusty leutenant, he is riding really well. So we’ve two solid guys for the climbs, and countless other guys to power the race. We have got a lot of horsepower when you look at our roster.

I am looking forward to being supported and trying to get the best result possible for the team.

VN: Garmin tends to always do well in the team time trial in Grand Tours. Is winning it an aim?

RH: Yeah… we’ve been practicing. We have got some serious horsepower, so we’ll see if we can continue with our tradition of winning team time trials.

VN: Finally, do you see a particular stage that will suit you, one where you will really be able to push forward?

RH: It’s more a case that the whole third week is the most difficult. With the confidence I have, that is where I come into my best riding. I am going to look to take my opportunities.

I am not really looking at one stage in particular. The whole week is so nasty that you are either there or not. That will be the difference.

      comments




Subscribe via RSS or daily email

WHAT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW
  Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy  Copyright 2008-2013 by VeloNation LLC