Race leader seventh in crash-marred finale on stage 9
Asked if he had developed a new talent as a bunch sprinter after his surprise seventh place in Frosinone, Giro d'Italia race leader Ryder Hesjedal’s first reaction was a large grin.
In fact, as the Canadian then explained, going for it at the finish had been more a safety measure than an attempt to pull a fast one and claw back a time bonus on Rodríguez, Basso and co.
“I wanted to stay out of trouble, there was a [sharp] corner at the end and those hills, too, I just didn’t want any problems,” Hesjedal commented.
This isn’t the first time, in any case, that Hesjedal, best-known as a climber, has sprinted. He recalls he took sixth in the first stage of the Vuelta al País Vasco bunch gallop this year.
As for the crash, he says “I was able to stay on the inside, steer left a little and get to the line. It was ok.”
As for Rodríguez’s late attack, Hesjedal added “he’s an explosive competitor, he’s going to take any chances he can get. The climbs were hard enough not to know what would happen, so he went on the attack to see what would happen. He took a chance.”
He himself felt comfortable on the climb and knew there were riders like Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), amongst others, who were interested in the race reforming for a bunch sprint.
Asked about the final ‘wall’-like climb on Tuesday’s stage to Assisi, Hesjedal, who has had some solid finishes in uphill races ranging from Fleche Wallone to the GP Miguel Indurain, did not seem overly troubled. But as he pointed out, if Rodríguez wins or gets second, thanks to the bonus seconds, the Spaniard will pull ahead. The chances are, then, that on the final climb the sparks will fly for the Giro’s GC men.