Ryder Hesjedal turns his attention to winning the Giro d'Italia in the next three weeks after
placing top ten in the Tour de France
"I know what it's like to be there" in the Tour, he said. "If I can carry that over to the Giro, I should be up there, maybe even better than a top 10."
The Canadian leads Garmin-Barracuda with support from Christian Vande Velde. The two helped Brad Wiggins place fourth overall in the Tour de France in 2009. Hesjedal's turn came a year later when he placed sixth overall, then racing against Wiggins and team Sky.
He and Vande Velde will return to compete in the Tour de France, but first Hesjedal has his turn to captain a Grand Tour team. Garmin rounds out its squad with Jack Bauer, Thomas Dekker, Tyler Farrar, Robert Hunter, Alex Howes, Alex Rasmussen and Peter Stetina.
"I'm confident," Hesjedal added. "It's all about being there in the final week, when anything can happen."
The Giro starts in Herning, Denmark, on Saturday with a short time trial. After three legs, it returns to its homeland in Verona. It dips down to the south in the first week, back north in the second week and races through the Alps in the third week. Stages to Cervinia, Pampeago and Stelvio will split the classification apart and offer Hesjedal his chance.
Hesjedal has yet to preview the stages due to bad weather and his racing schedule, including ninth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Former British pro, Charly Wegelius is now a sports director with Garmin will guide the team through Italy.
"He's an Italian expert. He knows the Giro very well."
The team gave Hesjedal the Giro nod at its training camp in November. In the past, the team has focused on time trials or sprint stages with Tyler Farrar. David Millar helped Garmin win the time trial in its Grand Tour debut at the Giro in 2008. It's the first time team manager Jonathan Vaughters has fielded a team to win the Giro.
"My programme was planned around it since the start of the season," added Hesjedal. "It's a great opportunity. There are only so many chances to ride for the overall in your career."
Giro d'Italia 2012: Start list
Giro d'Italia 2012: Coverage index
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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