Posted by Editoress on 07/28/10
Post Tour de France with Ryder Hesjedal
Earlier today we spoke with Ryder Hesjedal from Biarritz, on the French Riviera, where he is a taking a few days break before heading to San Sebastian for the next ProTour race on Saturday. Last Sunday, Ryder finished his third Tour de France with an incredible seventh place overall and two fourth place stage results on some of the hardest days of the race. To put it into perspective - Ryder's finish is the best since Steve Bauer finished fourth in 1988.
Canadian Cyclist: So, has seventh at the Tour finally begun to sink in?
Ryder Hesjedal: [Laughs] Oh yeah ... I was in good position the whole race, which is what I wanted to accomplish, so that I could make it happen in the third week.
CC: What are the highlights of the Tour for you?
RH: Definitely it starts with stage 3, when I was in the break all day, then on most of the cobbles on my own, fending off the best of the best. It was a complete ride and set the tone for the whole race.
Then the ride in the Alps before the rest day, when I showed that I could stay up there. Also stage 12, when I showed that I was not afraid to push it and be in the break, putting pressure on other riders and staying with Klodi [Andreas Klöden, RadioShack] right to the line. That gave me confidence, and I just got stronger into the Pyrenees, ending with a great ride on the Tourmalet.
CC: You didn't have the strongest support in the race, with the team having so many injuries. Do you think you could have done even better with a stronger team?
RH: It's hard to say. Obviously, the more support the better, but the team went in [to the Tour] with two objectives: Tyler [Farrar] for the sprints and Christian [Vande Velde] for the GC, so there was really only going to be a couple of guys to support Christian anyway. There weren't many riders available, but the team supported me as much as possible.
CC: When Steve Bauer won the silver medal at the Olympics and then went on to ride so well at the Tour over the next few years, it popularized cycling in Canada, and inspired a lot of young riders. Do you think your results and the publicity from the Tour this year will do the same for current young riders?
RH: I'd like to think so; but I think there is already more interest, with Lance [Armstrong] over the last five to seven years. When Steve was riding so well I was too young to see the impact; all I really know is over the last three years, and I think people are excited to see a Canadian in the standings, and because there is a Canadian doing well, they are paying more attention and learning a bit more. People get the addiction of following the Tour day in, day out. I just hope it creates even more awareness.
CC: What about these T-shirts? (The Garmin-Transitions team has come out with a t-shirt captioned: Ryder 'Weight of the Nation' Hesjedal)
RH: [Laughs] It was just a fun thing that the team did. I'm the first Canadian in some years to ride the Tour, and it just happened that the nickname became more fitting. They put it out there, and it was well received. To see the team and staff wearing it was pretty inspiring, though. The first run sold out instantly, I guess.
CC: How about the team; is your contract stuff sorted out?
RH: Yeah, we re-negotiated for two years last year, for 2010 and '11, and then re-did it this spring after my results last fall. It was good, because I was able to ride the Tour relaxed and confident that the team is behind me.
CC: Now, for next year, this would potentially put two GC riders [Ryder and Christian Vande Velde] on the squad, how is that going to work?
RH: There is nothing wrong with having two very capable riders on a team; lots of teams come into the Tour like that. But, I'm not thinking that hard about next year's Tour yet.
CC: You've had a number of good results over the years - silver medals and World Cup wins on the mountain bike, top-3 at the Classics, a stage win at the Vuelta ... how does this Tour fit in, in your mind?
RH: It's the highest level; it's the Tour de France. Teams and riders base a whole season just around the Tour, so to do well there is special. But, I'm also frustrated at the lack of coverage from other events; cycling is more than just July. I've had lots of top rides, some one day rides comparative to any stage of the Tour. But, that's the way it is, the Tour is what people recognize.
CC: So now what's left for the season?
RH: Well, there's San Sebastian this weekend, then I'll take a little break before doing some racing in Italy in mid-August to get tuned for Plouay [ProTour race], then back to Canada for the two Quebec [ProTour] races - I'm looking forward to racing there.
I'm the number one points scorer for the team right now - 16th - so the team needs me to keep scoring points for the team rankings. I'd like to see if I can get myself into the top-ten, so maybe even Lombardia at the end of the season.
I got my best form in the third week of the Tour, so I'd like to see if I can finish the year like that.
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