Stomach problems affected Ryder Hesjedal's performance in Liège-Bastogne-Liège but as he prepares to head home to Canada for a break, the Garmin-Transitions rider knows he has stepped up a level as a rider after a string of consistent results in the Ardennes Classics.
Hesjedal finished 13th at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, 1:18 behind winner Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) but was second in last Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, and tenth in Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday.
He rode well for most of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and was well placed over the key Côte de la Redoute, 35 kilometres from the finish, but was then struck by stomach problems on the Côte de Saint Nicolas with just six kilometres-to-go.
"I don’t like to make excuses but my stomach was pretty bad near the end of the race. I really suffered and once my stomach was bad, I was focused on just keeping it together," he said.
"260 kilometres is a big effort on the body and I was pretty rough and shaken up. Earlier I was comfortable and felt a lot better than last year on the [Côte de la] Roche-aux-Faucons and was able to stay near the front. I just lost contact on the Saint-Nicolas when there were a lot of guys putting in digs. It was hard and there was so little time to come back before the finish, so that was it. What can you do when it comes down to one thing like that?"
Next, the Tour of California
Hesjedal was rightly proud of his consistent performances in the Ardennes Classics. He will now enjoy some time at home in Canada before preparing for the Tour of California and then the Tour de France.
"I think this is my 29th race day of the season and I've been popping round the top ten most of the time. I'm pretty pleased with that," he said.
"I can't be more pleased to get through this week. I go back to Canada this week, then take a little break before the Tour of California. I'm really looking forward to that and spending some time in North America. After that I've got the Tour of Switzerland and then the Tour de France."