Ryder Hesjedal escape group, Tour de France 2010, stage 12

Canadian Ryder Hesjedal started the Tour de France as Christian Vande Velde's mountain man, but now finds himself battling for a top ten overall while Vande Velde watches from home.

Vande Velde abandoned the Tour de France on the third day to Spa due to a crash and two broken ribs. Hesjedal quickly took up responsibility of the team's overall contender, with Vande Velde calling frequently with advice.

"The last thing he wants to do is be going through the Tour de France mentally when he is at home," explained Hesjedal. "Though, I heard from him a lot when he first dropped out. I am sure he sees that I am fine and doing my best."

Hesjedal showed Vande Velde he is up to his best today. He went on the attack today with Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden and Vasil Kiryienka, hoping to gain some time in the classification or a stage win. However, it didn't work. The favourites group caught Hesjedal, and the other three, on the closing climb.

It was a risky move for a rider sitting in the top 20 overall and with the four Pyrenean stages to come, but Hesjedal was please with his aggression.

"I would rather race than sit and follow. Some people might say that is stupid, but I am here to race and I'd rather be out front taking my chances," Hesjedal explained.

"I am not scared, even with the hardest days of the Tour de France coming up."

Four of the hardest days are coming in the Pyrenees, beginning with Sunday's stage to Ax 3 Domaines. Hesjedal sits 13th overall, 6'25" behind leader Andy Schleck and over a minute ahead of former team-mate, Sky's Bradley Wiggins.

"I don't think I am 'racing' against him at the moment, but we have been surviving together. We just happened to be with each other on the end of the Alpine stages," Hesjedal continued.

"The sport changes every year. If you get fourth one year, obviously you have to prepare and try to come back to improve. He said immediately after his first few tests [stages in the race] that he doesn't not think he is capable of going with the top guys.

"I never came here with a top ten in mind. Maybe if I had been thinking about it all year and now to be here, then maybe that would be different."

Is a top ten possible for Hesjedal?

"I think so," he said. "It is a nice goal to shoot for."

Tour de France 2010: Latest news

Renshaw disqualification overshadows Cavendish's win

Charly Wegelius pulls out of Tour

Did Armstrong own a stake in Tailwind Sports, or not?

Cavendish in a 'must win' situation for Tour's green jersey

Millar rides through pain barrier to make time cut

Roche alongside Tour's top men ahead of Pyrenees

Wiggins to aim for Tour de France stage win?

Dan Lloyd battles on in Tour despite groin strain

Bradley Wiggins: Tour rest day conference

Evans faces rough ride in yellow

Riis secures replacement sponsor but Shleck in doubt

Tour de France 2010: rest day review (July 12)

Armstrong's Tour de France dream ends

Sky's objective clear ahead of Tour's high mountains

The Feed Zone (July 10): Tour de France news and views


Tour de France 2010: Stage reports

Stage 12: Rodriguez wins as Contador attacks

Stage 11: Cavendish bags third stage win but lead out man kicked out of Tour

Stage 10: Cavendish bags third stage win but his lead-out man is kicked out of race

Stage 10: Paulinho claims narrow stage victory on Bastille day

Stage nine: Casar wins stage as Schleck and Contador go head-to-head

Stage seven: Chavanel wins stage and takes overall as Thomas drops out of Tour's white

Stage six: Cavendish makes it two as Tour hots up

Stage five: Cavendish wins his first stage of Tour

Stage four: Petacchi wins into Reims

Stage three: Hushovd takes dramatic win; Thomas second on stage and GC

Stage three live coverage: As it happened

Stage two: Comeback man Chavanel takes victory in Spa

Stage one: Petacchi wins in Brussels as bunch left in tatters

Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win

Tour de France 2010: Photos

Stage 11 photo gallery

Stage 10 photo gallery

Stage nine photo gallery

Stage eight photo gallery

Tour 2010 wallpaper

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 gallery

Prologue photo gallery

Tour de France 2010: Videos

Stage 11 video highlights

Stage 10 video highlights

Stage nine video highlights

Stage eight video highlights

Stage seven video highlights

Stage six video highlights

Stage five video highlights

Stage four video highlights

Stage three video highlights

Stage two video highlights

Stage one video highlights

Prologue video highlights

Tour de France 2010: Race guide

Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index

Official start list, with race numbers

Brits at the Tour 2010

Tout team guide

Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins

Tour de France 2010: Pictures

Tour team presentation, Rotterdam

Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special


Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1