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June 25/08 3:04 am - Ryder Hesjedal Interview

Posted by Editor on 06/25/08

Ryder Hesjedal Interview

Yesterday, the Garmin-Slipstream team announced their riders for the Tour de France, and Canada's Ryder Hesjedal was one of those named to the team. Hesjedal will be the first Canadian to ride the Tour since Gord Fraser did back in 1997. We spoke with Ryder from his base in Girona, Spain about being named to the Tour squad.

Canadian Cyclist: So, first of all, congratulations. I guess you were fairly sure that you were going to be named?

Ryder Hesjedal: Technically, I didn't know that it was confirmed until I got your e-mail; I didn't know that it had been announced, but I was obviously confident that it was going to happen. I didn't know when [which year] I was going to make it to the Tour, but that has been the goal.

In 2005, 2006 it wasn't too realistic [on US Postal and Phonak] because the teams had guys that were previously decided on, and in 2007 there was no chance [on Health Net], so this was my first real chance to go.

CC: So what have you been doing since the Giro to prepare?

RH: Well, first I had to complete the Giro in good shape, and since then most of the time has been spent at altitude, because it helps to bring your body up in conditioning. I've gotten in a big block of training since the Giro, and we [the team] have been in the Pyrennes training. It's been a lot of time motorpacing behind the scooter and climbing. I feel that I'm in the best shape I've ever been in. And now it is another week of fine tuning before the start.

CC: What are the goals for the Tour - for both you and the team?

RH: Well, I have to sit down with the rest of the team and our director, and we will have a final group preparation and discuss things. For me personally, I'm focussing on being in the best condition I can be, because when we start everyone will have clear roles at that point. I think I can have some opportunities in some stages.

CC: For the team, and for you, are there GC [general classification] goals?

RH: I don't think you can think about GC in a Tour debut. I think the team view is to go for stage wins and possible time in the Yellow Jersey. GC riding in a Grand Tour is its own beast, and I don't there are possibilities in a first try.

CC: Now, you will come out of the Tour and have to refocus almost immediately on the Olympics. How is that going to work out?

RH: For me, the best will be to return to Canada July 30th after the Tour, if all goes well and I end up in Paris. After a few days at home I'll go to the [Canadian] team staging camp in Japan. So the main goal will be recoup and recover. Then head to Beijing on the 5th, with the road race on the 9th followed by the time trial.

CC: This is a pretty big year for you - top three and top ten finishes, the Giro, the Tour and the Olympics.

RH: It is definitely my biggest year. It's what I was envisioning in 2007, and in the back of my mind it's what I've been working towards. To finally realize a vision that was set out two years ago ... I don't know what to say. You set goals as an athlete and then try to make it happen. It is my biggest, most perfect season to date.


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