Hesjedal delighted with best Grand Tour finish

Warns more to come in Spain from Garmin-Slipstream

Garmin-Slipstream’s Ryder Hesjedal finished second on the Vuelta a España’s stage 10 from Alicante to Murcia, but the Canadian believes there’s more to come from his Garmin team-mates. Tom Danielson is currently sitting in fourth overall and Tyler Farrar remains in the hunt for stage wins.

Hesjedal formed part of a 19-man breakaway that built up an eight minute lead on the stage. The group included pre-race favourite Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), Adam Hansen (Columbia-HTC), Linus Gerdemann (Milram), Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) and eventual stage winner Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam).

“The team wanted to be represented in any big group that split from the bunch,” Hesjedal told Cyclingnews after the finish. “Once we could see that the time was starting to go out and that most teams were involved we could start getting excited about going to the line.”

With the category 4 climb of Alto de la Cresta del Gallo situated 20 kilometres from the finish the lead group began to splinter. Hesjedal followed the lead selection of Vinokourov, Gerrans and Fuglsang over the top.

“It was definitely a solid group and a lot of people were getting ready to do battle on that climb,” he said. “Obviously there were a lot of strong guys there but I was confident. I just had to get over the top with whatever selection was possible and fight out the finish.”

Despite a solo move in the close kilometres, Hesjedal was piped to the line by Gerrans, who continued his excellent streak in Grand Tours. However the Garmin rider was pleased with his ride.

“Gerrans is pretty quick so I can’t be too disappointed to run second to him,” he said. “I’m happy as that’s my best results in a Grand Tour in an individual stage. A lot of good guys were in the break and in the final selection, so I can’t be too disappointed. It does sting a little to run second though.”

Despite his solo heroics Hesjedal’s attentions will turn back towards supporting his team-mates in what will probably be the decisive second week in the Vuelta. The Canadian was a lynchpin for Bradley Wiggins during the Tour and will be hoping to perform a similar task for a rejuvenated Danielson, who is arguably in his best form for several seasons.

“The aim is to help Tom ride as best he can as he’s clearly riding well. Along with that the team has showed themselves pretty well since day one in the race. But I think we have enough guys to get in moves too,” Hesjedal added.

However Garmin’s day took a huge blow when their leader at the Tour of Missouri, Christian Vande Velde, was forced to quit the race with a broken hand. “It’s obviously disappointing but it’s smart not to push it and take risks. Hopefully the team can still rally. Zabriskie is there to do a good time trial so we have options.”

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