After his win in the Giro d'Italia, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) took an extended break from racing as he began his preparations for the Tour de France, but on Saturday in Liege he will begin his campaign for a second Grand Tour in just three months. And while the Giro-Tour double is still a dream away the Canadian believes his top form is with him.
"I think I can win [the Tour de France]. I don't know if it will be this year but definitely after what I was able to do in the Giro, that was a big indicator for myself and now it's about how I can apply that further down the road," he told Cyclingnews.
"I got in a good recovery after the Giro, had some training and got the hours in around Girona. It's all good."
The true effects of his Giro win won't be evident until the Tour is underway but Hesjedal will be aware that his competition will be greater with both Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans tipped as the favourites. The Tour itself is an entirely different challenge to the Giro, too, and is littered with recent episodes of Giro champions who have failed to repeat their Italian exploits: Ivan Basso, Paolo Savoldelli, Denis Menchov and Gilberto Simoni, who declared he could drop Lance Armstrong but was comprehensively beaten in 2004.
"There are a lot of riders I've not seen for a while and a lot of riders basing their season on the Tour so we'll have to wait and see how it shakes out. In the Giro I just focused on what I had to do and did that as well as I could. If that moves me into contention for the win then I'll address that when it happens," he said.
"We saw what happened to the favourites on paper at the Giro. The analysts and the people following from the outside pick and develop their favourites but more and more and more we've seen riders winning who haven't been the top favourites. It makes for good racing and now you have to analyse every rival."