Garmin-Sharp rider says he just followed the riders in front
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) has reiterated that he did nothing wrong on the descent of the Stelvio during stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia.
The Canadian went clear of the pink jersey group and joined up with Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and other riders on the long descent despite race organizers having told the teams that the riders should stay behind race motorbikes waving red flags on the early part of the mist-covered descent.
Hesjedal went on to finish second behind Quintana in Val Martello after going deep to stay with the Colombian climber, who took the overall race lead after the breakaway gained four minutes on the other overall contenders. Hesjedal moved up to ninth overall, 4:16 behind Quintana, but is now just 35 seconds behind Cadel Evans (BMC) in third place.
Following an impromptu meeting before the start of the stage, teams that missed the move are expected to demand that race judges change the stage results to somehow punish the riders who gained time.
However Hesjedal insisted he did nothing wrong.
"Tell me what a neutralised descent is? Does everyone just stop?" he said as he rode to the start of the stage.
"If you're serious about the race and especially if you're in the pink jersey, you should have been at the head of affairs. End of story. Everyone rode down the descent and that was it."
When asked about the race motorbikes and red flags, Hesjedal said: "I just followed the guys that were ahead of me on the GC. There was stuff and people everywhere. I just rode the descent. I was basically on my own for the whole descent. I connected with those guys (the Quintana, Rolland group) at the bottom."
Hesjedal said he was more focused on surviving that gaining time on his rivals.
"At that moment you're just trying to stay safe and get through it. I wasn't thinking about anything except my wellbeing and riding down the hill," he said.
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