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“Alberto chased me down by himself over the first climb. I guess that’s another sign of respect. But I’m at 11 minutes, what do they think? Let the break go."

Photo: Sirotti




27.05.2015 @ 01:51 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ryder Hesjedal animated the queen stage of the Giro d’Italia from start to finish. The Canadian broke into the top ten overall following a dramatic ride that netted him sixth place in Aprica on stage 16. Part of the early ten-man break, Hesjedal attacked the escape group on the Aprica descent. He would ride alone until the race hit the Mortirolo.


Cannondale-Garmin left Pinzolo with an open plan on the 174 kilometer stage that included five categorized climbs.


“We did the same thing that we’ve done here often,” said sport director Charly Wegelius. “We left our options open. We wanted to wait to see how things would develop.”


The stage started uphill. A number of breakaway attempts failed to establish. When Hesjedal saw a move that appeared to have staying power, he jumped across. Two additional riders followed suit, and the escape group swelled to ten. Try as they might, the breakaway could never snap the elastic to extend their advantage beyond the two minute mark.


“We didn’t think Tinkoff would ride so hard behind,” said Wegelius. “They were riding so hard the whole future of the break was in doubt.”


“Alberto chased me down by himself over the first climb. I guess that’s another sign of respect. But I’m at 11 minutes, what do they think? Let the break go,” Hesjedal told Velonew.


“Otherwise, look what happens. Saxo just annihilates themselves. Maybe it’s all good in the end, Alberto wins, but I just don’t understand. Let a break get five, six, seven, eight minutes. What’s it to them?”



“They decide to keep it close and then it’s easy to Astana to take over … and inflict pain on everybody,” he said.


With the gap tumbling and the peloton on the verge of disintegrating, Hesjedal made his move. There were 80 kilometers still to race.


“We knew the last four kilometers of that descent were very technical,” said Wegelius. “We also knew with the rain the peloton would split behind. Ryder realized that he needed to do something with the peloton closing in, and he took his moment.”


The twisting descent on which Hesjedal set to work to build his lead caused chaos. Hesjedal hit the Mortirolo with a 90 second advantage. A small chase group had formed in his wake.


Hesjedal was caught on the lower slopes of the Mortirolo, but he never lost focus of the overall objective. He steadily worked his way up the mountain. Eventually he joined forces with Andrey Amador (Movistar) and Yuri Trofimov (Katusha). The trio chased a front group of three that included eventual stage winner Mikel Landa (Astana), race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo).


“The way he rode today shows the kind of rider that Ryder is,” said Wegelius. “He doesn’t crack very easily at all. He can ride at the limit for the whole day. It was an amazing performance to go on like that. Most of the people he was with had a much easier ride in the earlier part of the day.”


Hesjedal was the sixth rider to cross the line, 2:10 behind Landa. His effort earned him another jump up the general classification. Hesjedal sits in tenth on Tuesday. He’s gained ten spots overall since Saturday.


“That last week of the Giro still has a lot more to give,” said Wegelius. “Things are looking good.”



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