Reigning Giro d’Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal took centre stage at the race’s 2013 presentation yesterday in Milan. Though it was his first time in the spotlight for such a show, he appeared as cool and relaxed as ever.
“You don’t understand anything?” La Gazzetta dello Sport director, Andrea Monti asked in Italian when Hesjedal walked on stage. The Canadian does not understand the local language, but he knows the race.
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“In Ryder’s case, having gone through the experience of preparing for the Giro, having had it work well, he knows,” Charly Wegelius, sports director for team Garmin-Sharp, told Cycling Weekly. “Now he’s done it, he knows he can do it and he knows he can go back to the way he worked and the way he built up to it. That’s a very positive thing for him.”
Last year was the first time Hesjedal switched his focus away from the Ardennes Classics to winning the Giro d’Italia, which starts two weeks after Liège-Bastogne-Liège. His plan was to win and to do the same at the Tour de France.
“Making it through the Giro is what I needed to come up another level and I can apply that to the rest of the season,” Hesjedal told Cycling Weekly while waiting for the show to begin. He added that the plan is the same for next year. “When I start my off-season, the Giro will be on my mind.”
Hesjedal’s Tour de France plan ended in the “Metz massacre”, the mega-crash 25 kilometres from the finish of stage six. He abandoned after landing heavily on his left side, suffering cuts and scrapes, and muscle bruising at his hip.
“If there was ever a year to have the bad luck at the Tour… It wasn’t so bad having the Giro in the pocket already,” he added. “I’m more than happy that’s what we set out to do this year.”
The organisers presented a “Giro per tutti i gusti”: seven mountain-top finishes, seven possible sprint stages and three time trials. In the middle of a team and mountain time trial, a 55.5km individual test weighs down the first week. It suits Hesjedal and other possible overall contenders, possibly Bradley Wiggins (Sky), if the Brit elects to ride the race.
“It’s an extremely long time trial and it could set the tone for the rest of the race,” added Wegelius. “The climbs of the Giro are not the same as the Tour, though, and I think you’ll see an extremely good climber win the race.”
Hesjedal liked the course, but then he said that any three-week race suits him because he excels in the third week when everyone is weakened. His plan is the same as 2012: the Giro and the Tour.
“I know what I did, what I was able to accomplish and where I was at for the Tour. I was in better shape than the Giro, I was in the best shape of my life,” Hesjedal explained. “[I will not] focus on what other people say is possible and what other people are doing. I can take my chances at the Giro and still have the Tour or whatever the goals are after that.”