HUY, Belgium (VN) ─ Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervélo) is hoping to cap his spring campaign with a run for the podium at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday.
The Canadian took confidence out of his 13th-place showing at Flèche Wallonne after his Amstel Gold Race unraveled Sunday when he got zapped with a stomach bug right in the decisive moments of the race. Hesjedal was feeling so bad that he had no choice but to stop racing for an ill-timed call to nature, but he still managed to finish the race at 141st.
“I just had a bad stomach. I got to a point where I couldn’t function anymore. I had to stop the race and luckily I found some nice people and I had to go into their home to use their toilet,” Hesjedal said. “It happened with 20km to go, when the race was ramping up and the pace was going faster and faster. It was frustrating, to be sure, but that’s bike racing. These things happen. The good thing is that I am feeling better and I hope to be ready for Sunday.”
Hesjedal said Flèche Wallonne’s Mur de Huy simply isn’t his favored terrain for an uphill finish, calling the explosive climb too “short and quick” for his tastes. He finds the longer, more sustained climbs at Liège to his liking.
“I am feeling better at this point of the season than I was last year, so I hope to be well-positioned in the race. The longer, big climbs at Liège suit me better,” he continued. “The decisive moment will come on the Roche aux Faucons. That’s where the moves have gone the past few years since it’s been introduced into the race. I hope I have the legs there to follow the moves. I think if I can get with the front group on that last long climb up Saint-Nikolas, I could do well in that last drag to the finish line.”
Hesjedal said he’s hoping for a strong ride at Liège to bookend the first part of his racing season. After the Ardennes, he’ll take a short break before returning for the Tour of California, the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France.
“It’s been a great spring. I’ve had good legs and I’m happy with how I rode at Criterium International (seventh overall) and Basque Country (ninth overall). I was right at the front in the most decisive moments and those are some of the hardest races on the calendar, so I am very happy with how I’ve been able to ride,” he said.
“Sunday (Amstel Gold Race) was a bit of a disappointment, but I knew it would take a tall order to replicate what I did last year (second). Flèche was a good indication that I have the form. Now I just want to recover and stay relaxed and hope for a big one on Sunday.”