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"I think if you look at my performances in the third week of Grand Tours, that's been my strength: I can handle the volume and the load. I ride well in the third week, that's the idea and that's what I’m doing, so I&#...

Photo: Sirotti




29.05.2015 @ 02:29 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ryder Hesjedal gained more than a minute and moved into 9th overall on the Giro d’Italia general classification on Thursday. The Canadian benefited from critical support from his Cannondale–Garmin teammates on the 170 kilometer stage between Melide and Verbania.


Davide Villella executed the early part of the team plan to perfection, slipping into a 14 rider move that formed after 44 kilometers of racing. With a stage divided into two parts – a flat front half followed by a single category one climb – the breakaway stood a reasonable chance of surviving to the finish, which meant a spot in the escape was a highly sought after objective within the peloton. The break wasted no time stretching out its advantage. Villella and company approached Monte Ologno with a 13 minute advantage over the peloton.


“We knew there was a chance that a break would go to the line,” explained Charly Wegelius. “We also knew that Ryder has been riding extremely well, so we wanted to have riders in the break for either the chance to go for the stage if the gap was big or to work for Ryder. He’s going so fast uphill that the only way our riders can stay with him to help is if they have a head start on the climb.”


As the breakaway splintered up the climb, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) went on the attack. Hesjedal was the only rider able to react, jumping out of the peloton four kilometers up the challenging ascent, making contact with Contador just before the summit. Villella dropped out of the breakaway to lend his legs to his teammate.


“Villella did exactly what we asked of him,” said Wegelius. “He did his job today with great professionalism, especially for a young rider.”


Villella paced Hesjedal and Contador over the top of the Monto Ologno and back down to Verbania. Hesjedal and Contador contributed as well. They shareda motivation to put time into the fragmented peloton in their wake.


Leading Contador across the line, Hesjedal slotted into 11th place on the stage. The remnants of the peloton crossed the line 1:13 after Hesjedal.


“I’m really happy for the team,” said Wegelius. “They really did a super job. I’m pleased because the team is able to participate in what Ryder is doing. That’s the great thing. When it’s so hard and the group gets split into so many pieces, it can be difficult for riders to make a contribution. If Contador attacks, not many people can follow, and they can’t really contribute. This day, they really did a super job – all of them – even the ones that weren’t seen on the television.”


Racing continues tomorrow with another day in the Italian Alps. Stage 19 finishes at a ski resort in Cervinia. Hesjedal pocketed 20 seconds on the finish up to Cervinia in 2012 (stage 14) to reclaim the maglia rosa from Joaquim Rodriguez. Friday’s stage 19 includes four categorized climbs (one category three, three category one) and covers 236 kilometers.


“The last days of racing have confirmed everybody in their places more or less,” said Wegelius. “Ryder is one of the best uphill, and I look at the next days really positively. Day in and day out, Ryder is riding at such a high level. It gives us reason to be optimistic.”


"He went pretty early but I settled in a little bit just to see what the other guys were doing," Hesjedal said afterwards. "Then I figured I'd go as well. [Kenny] Elissonde from FDJ got on my wheel but I just rode him off my wheel and then I could see Alberto there, so I just locked in on him and didn't worry about what was happening behind. I was happy with that."



"I had everything to benefit: I'm not racing Alberto. So once I knew I had Davide there and we were riding – if Alberto wants to sit on in the pink jersey, that's his choice. He contributed, and that's fine, and that's all you can ask for.



"I think if you look at my performances in the third week of Grand Tours, that's been my strength: I can handle the volume and the load. I ride well in the third week, that's the idea and that's what I’m doing, so I'm happy."



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