Hesjedal happy with Giro performance despite losing lead

Ryder Hesjedal on podium, Giro d'Italia 2012, stage 9

Ryder Hesjedal's run in the pink jersey ended today in the upper streets of Assisi. He and the others were unable to withstand Joaquin Rodriguez's surges, which were enough to win the stage and take the overall lead.

"What are you going to say? Purito [Rodriguez] is a classy rider," Garmin-Barracuda's Hesjedal said after the line in the ancient centre. "He showed he's on top form. This [climb] is perfect for him. He's shown he's the best in the world for this. I was pleased with where I was because that was a very hard final."

The race took the 10th leg from Civitavecchia near Rome to Umbria. The riders focused on the last 5.5 kilometres into Assisi, two steep ramps that suited team Katusha's Rodriguez. The Spaniard won this year in Flèche Wallonne, which ends with a ramp above Huy.

Hesjedal followed the accelerations up San Damiano, stayed with the favourites downhill and positioned himself well for the 1.2 kilometre final ramp. Rodriguez shot free in the last 300 metres and won by two seconds, taking 20 bonus seconds in the process. Hesjedal placed sixth and now sits second overall.

"It would've been really hard to beat him. Maybe if I was second; I could've kept the jersey, but..." Hesjedal added. "I'm all right with these types of finishes. I'm no Rodriguez or [Michele] Scarponi, or these guys. I'm right there, right now, so that's a good sign for me."

He became the first Canadian to wear the pink leader's jersey on Saturday in Rocca di Cambio. He held it since, even withstanding an attack by Rodriguez two days ago in Lago Laceno. With the effort he showed today, it is likely we'll see Hesjedal again in the high mountains, starting Saturday in the Aosta Valley. The 14th leg finishes at 2001 metres in Cervinia.

"I'm optimistic, ready to start to heading up the big mountains," added Hesjedal. "I'm more suited to the long grinds."

For now, he's happy with what Garmin-Barracuda has acheived: a time trial win, two days in pink with Ramunas Navardauskas and three with Hesjedal.

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Giro d'Italia 2012: Live coverage

Giro d'Italia 2012 live text coverage schedule

Giro d'Italia 2012: Stage reports

Stage nine: Ventoso wins in Frosinone as Goss and Cavendish fall

Stage eight: Pozzovivo takes another Giro win

Stage seven: Hesjedal moves into Giro lead

Stage six: Rubiano solos to epic Giro stage win

Stage five: Cavendish bounces back for another stage win

Stage four: Garmin-Barracuda win TTT to take lead

Stage three: Goss wins in Horsens as Cavendish and Phinney crash

Stage two: Cavendish wins in Herning

Stage one: Phinney wins time trial

Giro d'Italia 2012: Photo galleries

Stage nine photo gallery

Stage eight photo gallery

Stage seven photo gallery

Stage six photo gallery

Stage five photo gallery

Stage four photo gallery

Stage three photo gallery

Stage two photo gallery

Stage one photo gallery

Giro d'Italia 2012: Teams and riders

Giro d'Italia 2012 start list

Giro d'Italia 2012: TV guide

Giro d'Italia 2012: British Eurosport TV schedule

Related links

Giro d'Italia 2012: The Big Preview

Cycling Weekly's Giro d'Italia section

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