France — Ryder Hesjedal
was supposed to be supporting Garmin-Transitions
team leader Christian Vande Velde
on these long, difficult Pyrénéan mountain stages of the 2010 Tour de France, but Vande Velde’s Stage 2 crash and subsequent early exit from the race resulted in a change of plans. Hesjedal is now the team captain in the mountains, and every day the Tour marches toward its finish in Paris, the Canadian is proving more and more capable in the role.
Hesjedal finished Tuesday’s Stage 16, the third of four brutal stages in the Pyrénées, with the main peloton and over the past two weeks he has animated the Tour with daring breakaways and gritty performances in the mountains. All the while, he’s been moving up the leaderboard, surpassing some of the sport’s elite. Big names like Ivan Basso, the current Giro d’Italia champion, and Carlos Sastre, the 2008 Tour de France champion, have been passed by the Garmin-Transitions rider on his Felt F1.
After riding with the yellow jersey group in Sunday’s summit finish in Ax 3 Domaines, Hesjedal said he was more than pleased with his efforts. “I don’t know how many guys are going to be ahead of me on GC that have been going in all-day breakaways,” he told VeloNews. “I’m still feeling good and we’ll just keep it going.”
Hesjedal and his Garmin-Transitions teammates will enjoy a rest day on Wednesday, and then he’ll get back to work with another tough mountain stage Thursday as he continues his quest to score the best Tour result of any Canadian since Steve Bauer in the 1980s.