Ryder Hesjedal has come off the Ardennes Classics week ready to support team Garmin-Slipstream in its goal to take the opening stage at the Giro d'Italia; a team time trial of 20.5 kilometres on Venice's lido.
"It's great, it's what I wanted to accomplish: ride well in the Ardennes and then come out of them in a good way," the Canadian told Cyclingnews. "I wanted to perform and not just be spent for the Giro. My approach to the spring has been better, I just feel fresher and stronger at this point."
Hesjedal topped off the Ardennes week with an 11th place on Sunday in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He placed 35th in Amstel Gold and 25th in Flèche Wallonne. His best result in 2008 was 39th in Flèche Wallonne.
The Ardennes Classics were more of a warm-up for Hesjedal's ride in the Giro d'Italia, May 9 to 31. Following the one-day races he went back to his European base in Girona, Spain, with many of his Garmin-Slipstream teammates, including team manager Jonathan Vaughters, to work specifically on the Giro's first stage. The American squad wants to repeat last year's win in Palermo, which resulted in Christian Vande Velde wearing the leader's maglia rosa for one day.
"We have guys like Brad Wiggins on board to add to an already strong team that includes [David] Zabriskie and Vande Velde. It is our mind set that we need to repeat this victory. We are not thinking about anything less," explained Hesjedal.
"All of the potential riders are here, expect for the ones at Romandie [Tyler Farrar]. We are getting familiar with the team time trial motions and then relaxing over the weekend before we take off on Wednesday for the race."
Hesjedal spent some time earlier this year in Italy when he raced the Eroica Toscana and Tirreno-Adriatico. He lacks specific knowledge of the mountain stages but insisted that after the team time trial the goal is to make it through the Giro d'Italia and be on the right foot to start training for July's Tour de France.