Ryder Hesjedal’s chances of winning the Tour de France may have been weakened with the crash of key mountain domestique, Tom Danielson. The American placed top 10 last year and was expected to support Hesjedal’s dream of winning or placing in the top three.
Team Garmin-Sharp’s Danielson went down in the stage to Boulogne-sur-Mer and suffered a shoulder injury yesterday. Team-mate Christian Vande Velde also crashed and lost around two minutes. In addition to being helpers, both were the team’s back-up GC riders.
“Tommy D and Christian were both the plan B,” sports director, Allan Peiper told Cycling Weekly. “Now the tactic is simplified, we only have one leader and no plan B or C. That’s a good way to look at it.”
GC rider Janez Brajkovic (Astana) also crashed, while José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar) and Kanstantsin Siutsou (Sky) abandoned the race.
Danielson separated his right shoulder, but is able to continue racing.
“He’s in a bit of pain. He’s got it strapped up. Hopefully that helps. We hope he can get through the next days thanks to some physio work. He’s pretty crucial to our plan to have depth in the climbing department,” Peiper added.
“It’s disappointing, but our main objective remains Ryder Hesjedal. He’s still in place, got through yesterday unscathed.”
Hesjedal won the Giro d’Italia over a month ago. The team selected the Canadian to be its leader for the Tour to attempt a Giro-Tour double, which has not been seen for 14 years, since 1998. Hesjedal says he’s aiming for the podium, but he’s also eyeing the win.
“If Tom’s shoulder’s hurt and can’t perform properly then that’s not good,” Hesjedal told Cycling Weekly. “Christian was strong. He’s in good shape… So it’s not as bad.”
He and team-mates Dan Martin and Tyler Farrar also crashed. Hesjedal fell down on a climb when the speeds were slower. He said that he had to put his foot down, twisted his bike’s handlebars and broke his shoe cleat, but that he was thankful to come away unscathed.
“Everyone’s trying to be at the front, but there is no real right spot when there are just random crashes on the road,” Hesjedal added. “That big crash happened right near the front, there’s just nothing people can do when that happens. It’s just the luck of the job. You just get through each day and hope for the best.”
Peiper thinks that his team will need to rely more on the other teams, including Sky and BMC Racing, when the Tour reaches the mountains on Saturday.
“It’d be great to have three climbers back up with Ryder going into the mountains. We haven’t lost Tommy D yet and we are going to try to get him through these next days,” Peiper said. “Essentially, with Christian Vande Velde and Dan Martin, we have a couple of good riders. David Millar and Johan Van Summeren, who climb well, can get them into the depth of the race. We have good back up. Let’s hope Ryder gets through.”
Hesjedal’s just looking ahead, ready to climb and not stress about random crashes.
“It’s nice when the group gets a bit smaller and the legs do more of the talking,” said Hesjedal, “than just the Kamikaze trying to be up there for no reason.”
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