ALPE DI PAMPEAGO, Italy (VN) – Garmin-Barracuda’s Christian Vande Velde said Friday that the only day that matters to have the pink jersey is the last one.
Ryder Hesjedal clawed within 17 seconds of the pink jersey in the Giro’s 19th stage, but that’s not such a bad thing, says Vande Velde.
“It’s much better not to have the jersey right now. It’s one less podium, one less press conference,” he told VeloNews. “All that really matters is having it on the last day.”
Vande Velde and Peter Stetina gave Hesjedal excellent support throughout the grueling, five-climb stage across the Italian Alps Friday. Garmin led out the top GC group onto the base of the final passage of the Pampeago and Hesjedal delivered with a number of late attacks that shed the Giro’s top contenders.
Vande Velde, who held the pink jersey in the 2008 Giro, said Hesjedal was smart to attack at the end of the stage. The more time Hesjedal has in his pocket going into Sunday’s TT finale, where he is favored over current leader Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), the better.
“If there’s time to be taken, you always take it. It’s not like the guy behind you has got his finger up his nose. He’s chasing you just as hard as he can,” said Vande Velde. “It’s never a slam dunk that you’re going to kill people in the time trial, unless you’re a Cancellara. Anything could happen in the final time trial. You saw what happened to Menchov when he crashed in the final day. If you can take time, you take it.”
Hesjedal will be looking to take more time up the Stelvio, and maybe even pick up the pink jersey, on Saturday.