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Hesjedal sets his eyes on time trial and time gains

  • By Gregor Brown
  • Published May. 9, 2013
  • Updated May. 9, 2013 at 3:27 PM EDT
After taking 25 seconds back on Bradley Wiggins this week, Ryder Hesjedal will reset after Saturday's time trial for the final two weeks of the Giro d'Italia. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com

MARGHERITA DI SAVOIA, Italy (VN) — Defending Giro d’Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) is preparing for the most important low-altitude test of this year’s race. Before riders reach the mountains of the north, Saturday’s 54.8-kilometer individual time trial has the ability to definitively shape the general classification.

The Canadian previewed the time trial earlier this spring and collected important data. Like most of the overall contenders, he is riding through these midweek days with the stage 8 Saltara test on his mind.

Garmin director Charly Wegelius is on the same page. Last year, he was due to guide Hesjedal through the Giro, but his wife gave birth to their baby and he changed his plans. This year, he is in for the entire haul and has his eyes down the road.

A ‘big test’ against Wiggins

Wegelius admitted that the Saltara test would be significant in the story of the 96th Giro d’Italia.

“It’s a big test and will set the tone for the rest of the race,” Wegelius told VeloNews. “Due to the nature of the course — this isn’t the Tour de France boulevard, straight-type of time trial — you could see some climbers doing good rides. It’s going to make a lot more balanced race than people first thought when the route was announced.”

Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) told VeloNews that he was not at his best and was not expecting to win. The favorite, Wegelius said, is Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins (Sky).

“Bradley’s such a good rider that he seems to perform almost every time trial,” Wegelius said. “He remains the No. 1 favorite.”

Wiggins won both time trials in the Tour de France last year before becoming the first Brit to claim the overall title. A week later, he won the Olympic time trial.

A line in the sand after the time trial

Wegelius said he expects Hesjedal to lose time in the time trial. However, he said the race overall will be a balance between the time trial, mountain stages, and precious seconds along the way. Hesjedal has made 25 of those seconds against Wiggins in the first week, drawing even with the Sky captain after Wiggins and company took nearly half-a-minute in the stage 2 team time trial.

“It’s only natural when you go to a race like this with Bradley Wiggins and there’s a 55km TT, you have to plan to lose some time,” Wegelius said. “I told the riders I want them to focus on performance and not results. The only thing Ryder can do is focus on his best TT. After that, we can draw a line in the sand and see where he is compared to his rivals.”

Considering Hesjedal won the Giro d’Italia by only 16 seconds last year, Wegelius knows the importance of every second.

The Canadian nabbed an eight-second bonus in the sprint at Marina di Ascea in stage 3. He finished in a group 17 seconds ahead of Wiggins the next day to Serra San Bruno, after officials ruled that a crash inside the final 3km had not delayed the Brit.

“You can’t just peter-patter around and suddenly scratch your head in Brescia and wonder why you’re five-and-a-half minutes behind the winner,” Wegelius said. “Every day there’s time to be gained, there are opportunities everywhere, and you kind of owe it to yourself to take advantage of everything.”

FILED UNDER: Giro d'Italia / News / Road TAGS: / /

Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown

Bikes kept Gregor Brown out of trouble growing up in Oklahoma — BMX, freestyle and then watching Greg LeMond's Tour de France wins on CBS television's weekend highlights shows. The drama of the 1998 Tour, however, truly drew him into the fold. With a growing curiosity in European races and lifestyle, he followed his heart and established camp on Lake Como's shores in 2004. Brown has been following the Giro, the Tour and every major race in Europe since 2006. He will tell you it is about the "race within the race" – punching out the news and running to finish – but he loves a proper dinner, un piatto tipico ed un vino della zona.

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