July 12/10 18:15 pm - Ryder Hesjedal Interview
Posted by Editoress on 07/12/10
After eight stages of the Tour de France, Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) continues to have the ride of his career, sitting in sixth place after the first two mountain stages, one minute and 11 seconds behind race leader Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).
We spoke with Ryder during the first rest day of the Tour, in Morzine-Avoriaz, where stage eight finished and where stage nine will start tomorrow (Tuesday).
Ryder Hesjedal is getting a lot of press attention
Canadian Cyclist: Ryder, you continue ride strongly in the first mountain stages; are you happy with your performance on the climbs?
Ryder Hesjedal: Yeah, for sure I am pleased. The big contenders are putting out their best stuff, and I'm still able to be there, be part of the race.
CC: Yesterday was the hardest day of the race, and you came off the back of the lead group on the final part of the climb - did you crack a little bit, or was it more just wanting to ride your own race?
RH: I had to ride my own ride there. I don't think you can say I cracked when I only lost a minute to 13 of the best climbers in the world. It was during the hardest moment of the race, and if I had maintained contact then it could have been worse for me later in the race. I had to play it a bit conservative, and not lose everything too early. I can't be too upset with the way the day went.
CC: There are two more stages in the Alps (nine and ten), and then a few days later you will hit the Pyrenees for four stages. Which do you think suit you better: the Alps or the Pyrenees?
RH: That's tough to say ... I've ridden very well the last couple of years in the Alps, but the Pyrenees haven't been too bad for me either. I would just have to say that it is the more gradual climbs that suit me more, whichever mountains they are in.
CC: Now that you have proven yourself, so to speak, are you and the team making plans for protecting your GC position in the coming stages?
RH: I'm not looking too far ahead at this point, just taking it day by day. I haven't ever raced for GC start to finish in a Grand Tour, so this is all new for me.
CC: Are you starting to feel more confident about keeping a top position on GC?
RH: Yeah, you've got to be confident, and I'll try to keep racing the way I have been. But, like I said, this is new territory for me, and I'm not sure how my body will respond.
CC: Overall, how do you feel about your Tour so far?
RH: I'm really pleased with my ride in stage three [Ryder was in a solo break on the cobbles, caught by a small chase group led by Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) and Cadel Evans, and sprinted for fourth]. I'm going to take that away as a big success, and I came pretty close to winning a stage there. That also set me up for where I am now.
I'm also happy that I was able to get through this weekend and preserve my position among the leaders. So, whatever happens, I will take it forward, and learn from it for the future. I would never have thought at the beginning of the season that I would be racing for the GC in 2010.
CC: How about the team support? After your designated leader [Christian Vande Velde] crashed out, there was some feeling that the team would be going strictly for stage results - are they supporting you now?
RH: The team is supporting me as much as possible, but it was a team that wasn't built so much around the GC, but more for stage wins. If you look at our team, we have the best leadout train out there, I think. So, the team will support the sprint objectives, and will support me whenever they can.
I'm just pleased ... I'm where I would need to be [in fitness] if I was supporting Christian, and it just so happens that he is not here anymore. So, I'm just happy to be in that position.
CC: When we talked before the Tour, you said your goal was to support Christian. Has that changed? What are you looking for now in this Tour? Top-10 GC maybe?
RH: I've already accomplished my goal, to have a strong ride and improve on last year. But, to win a stage of the Tour is still a goal; not many riders get to do that. But I'm not ready to fix a number in my mind for GC, it's all too new for that.