Posted by Editor on 09/8/06
Ryder Hesjedal Interview
Ryder Hesjedal is now halfway through his first Vuelta, and continues to hold a top-20 position in the overall standings (18th after stage 13). We spoke with Ryder earlier this week after he had completed the first set of grueling mountain stages.
Canadian Cyclist - So far you seem to be riding well. When we spoke earlier in the season, you were looking forward to the opportunity to ride as a GC rider for your team (Phonak). Are you meeting your goals for the Vuelta?
Ryder Hesjedal - So far, it's been pretty good; better than expected, actually. I didn't have any set goals coming into this race. It's my first real attempt at a Grand Tour - I rode the Giro last year, but was out so early (after a crash) that I don't really count it.
The best thing for me has been the freedom to train for it, to plan. Bit I don't think it is good fixate on position in my first Grand Tour. After this I can begin to set goals for myself in Grand Tours if I have a good ride.
But yeah, I'm pretty content placing where I finished in three mountain top finishes.
CC - You gone back a little bit from being as high as 12th on GC.
RH - 14th, 13th, 12th ... it's more like a couple of other guys slid back than I moved up! Yesterday (stage 9) was pretty hard, so I'm happy to have lost only a couple of minutes. (Alexandre) Vinokourov (Astana) was riding in a different league yesterday!
Right now (my position) is more than I expected. I'm pleased to only lose a couple of minutes; only a minute and half yesterday ... that was a savage day.
On the last climb I was a little empty, so I was reduced to my own speed, not the speed of the leaders. But just making it to the final climb with the lead group was pretty good.
There's six finish lines along the way that you have to make it through on a stage like that, and the main thing was to make it over the San Lorenzo Gap with the lead group. Then it was tactical; you have to know your own limits. If you stay with them for one kilometer on the final climb and then lose six or eight minutes, then the whole thing is over
CC - You've got four stages before the first time trial...
RH - Yeah, they are flat days, but Spanish flat days aren't really flat! For the TT ... I think some guys are out of reach, but there are few that are possibly reachable. I'm definitely not looking to fall back. Right now I have a 'nothing to lose' attitude, so I can take some risks.
I've gone back and looked at my Nationals time trial, and it was better than I thought for average speed so, looking back, I'm pretty happy with how my time trialing is going. The fact that it is a shorter time trial (33 kilometers) is in some ways better, since you can't lose as much time. But, if you are going good, then a longer one is better...
CC - This is your first time being the GC rider; how's the team working for you?
RH - It's been great. We are down a few guys now, but the guys are doing their job well, getting me to the crucial spots in good position. We had a third on one stage (stage 8), which was good for morale.
The team has been really supportive. It is definitely nice when everyone is 100% professional and doing their job.
CC - What about the fact that the team is finishing at the end of the season, is that affecting people on the team?
RH - Morale is good. We're still racing, so there is no point in being down; we might as well be productive. It is unfortunate that the team is finishing, but that's part of the sport. For me, Phonak's given me everything I've wanted for the season. It is a great group of people.
CC - What about next year for you? You were going to continue on with the new sponsor iShare, so what now, are you close to signing anything?
RH - I've got to get all the cards on the table before making any decisions. So, I'm waiting for as many options as possible to open up. Right now, I feel that there is no rush after the results I've had this year.
As to when I will sign, it's hard to say. I'm just focussing on racing right now. I want to get through the Vuelta and the Worlds. You come out of a Grand Tour either completely finished or with super form ... hopefully it is the latter!
CC - Okay, I've got to ask you about Floyd (Landis). What is the feeling within the team?
RH - It is really not a topic of discussion; it is a moment that has passed. I just focus on what I need to do - it is not productive to go there. But it is ridiculous the focus on cycling; it is looked at more than other sports. I think cycling gets picked on a little bit.
I haven't been in North America (since Landis tested positive for abnormal levels of testosterone after the Tour de France), it all started after I came back over here (Europe). Over here life goes on, sport goes on. A team leaves, a team comes in ... There is so much else for me to worry about and to focus on right now.
CC - What about the Hermida situation - the fact that he was pulled back by his federation with now concrete evidence? (Editor's Note: It has since come out that Jose Hermida is completely exonerated).
RH - Yeah, In the whole (Operacion Puerto) there have been very few, if any actual charges so far. I can see in the big picture the motives (for actions by federations/teams/UCI) ... it is to combat something that is happening, but it is happening at the expense of people who haven't done anything wrong. It is tough for people to suffer like that. The problem is that there are different laws, different rules ... so it is hard when the different countries treat it differently ... it has to be put together so that all (agencies) are on the same page.
CC - What about Landis specifically - what do you think, what do the riders think?
RH - I don't know what to think. There are a lot of scenarios to the situation, so I don't know if it is wise to comment. But, it is definitely unfortunate.
I was very close to riding on that team (at the Tour). It would have been very hard to take after putting in so much effort. It is going to be a drawn out process; who knows what the outcome will be.
Really, it doesn't involve me that much - I'm on the team, and it affects me, but not so directly. While we are on the same team - Phonak - not everyone is in the same room at the same time.
CC - Okay, something lighter to finish: what do you do on your rest day?
RH - You get on top of stuff! I organize my suitcase, have some good paella, a long massage and a two hour ride. And I get a chance to enjoy the company of my girlfriend.
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