Ryder Hesjedal forced out of Giro d’Italia through mystery illness
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Friday, May 17, 2013

Ryder Hesjedal forced out of Giro d’Italia through mystery illness

by Ben Atkins at 5:02 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Injury
Withdrawal “heartbreaking” for defending Corsa Rosa champion

ryder hesjedalToday’s 13th stage of the Giro d’Italia will start without its defending champion as Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) has been forced to withdraw. The Canadian started this year’s race confident of success, but tough recent stages have seen him slip out of contention as apparent illnesses have held them back.

Despite a fast start, where he was battling for bonus seconds at the finish of stage three, Hesjedal has been struggling since the stage eight time trial, where he lost two minutes to many of his overall rivals. He was still confident enough to put his team on the offensive the following day, where Garmin-Sharp sought to capitalise on Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins’ apparent loss of confidence in the wet, but then cracked himself on the final, short climb of the day.

The Canadian has lost big time on the three stages since, but still has no definite explanation for his lack of form. Leaving the race early as defending champion is not something he takes lightly, however.

“It's heartbreaking," said Hesjedal. "I want to be here for my team and for all the people who have supported me to get me here to this point. I built my entire season around the Giro and I came here feeling great, but I have been suffering since the TT.

“We're working on it, but we're not sure what's wrong,” the Canadian explained. “There's a virus that's been going around, so it could be that, or severe allergies, or going too deep on the TT combined with both  – whatever it is, I'm only getting worse. Yesterday's stage was just too much for me,  I fought to get through it and I know everyone suffered but after seeing the medical staff last night, I also know that its time for me to go home, get some tests done and get healthy again.”

Garmin-Sharp had pinned its overall hopes on a successful Hesjedal defence, and has no other riders in contention for general classification honours. Victory for Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas on stage 11 shows that the team’s race is far from over yet, however.

“I have tried my best to honour the number one bib number, the race, my team and fans and its devastating to leave this way,” Hesjedal added.  “Going home now is heartbreaking.  I'm very proud of the team – Ramunas' win proves that we all came here to race. These guys gave everything to help me. I couldn't ask for better teammates and I know that they'll continue to do great things here at the Giro for Garmin-Sharp. Now, I'll go home, focus on recovering,  and take things day by day, and I'll be cheering on the team from there."


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