Recently retired as a pro cyclist, Charly Wegelius was in the Garmin-Barracuda team car following and advising via radio Ryder Hesjedal over the climbs on the way to Cortina d'Ampezzo, "the pearl of the Dolomites". Late at night, he admitted to Cyclingnews that his protégé is the main beneficiary of stage 17.
"For several numbers of reasons, [Ivan] Basso tried to keep the race constant," Wegelius said. "Ivan is a big diesel, plus going downhill is a slight weak point of his. His tactic is perfect for Ryder who has a huge endurance. He's suited to the Giro more than the Tour where it's more of a slogging match like boxing. How the race has developed so far suits Ryder. He has proven his consistency. We have faith in him."
Garmin-Barracuda didn't come to the Giro d'Italia with the open intention to contest the overall victory. "It was all based around the first 10 or 12 days," Wegelius said. The US ProTeam team had initial ambitions for Alex Rasmussen in the prologue [he came third], for the team time trial [they won it] and for the sprints with Tyler Farrar [who came third on stage 3 but did not finish stage 6]. Wegelius used another expression from boxing to highlight Hesjedal's situation as a runner-up only thirty seconds down on Rodriguez: "The team is fighting above their weight."
"We don't feel any pressure about winning the Giro," Wegelius said. "Ryder's calm is remarkable. Peter Stetina is doing very well on his side. With his experience, Christian Vande Velde is a point of reference for Ryder and Peter. They're incredibly calm all of them."
As he knows the Giro pretty well after being based in Italy for 12 years, Wegelius suspected the storm to be hidden behind the calm. No real attack has been launched yet as an assault to the overall classification. "Maybe some massive fireworks will explode in the next two days," he said prior to the mountain top finishes of Alpe di Pampeago on Friday and the Stelvio on Saturday. "Either they [the favorites] are waiting or they don't have the legs. After watching the sprint for the stage win in Cortina d'Ampezzo, I think Basso has the legs for winning the Giro again. I couldn't beat many riders in a sprint but Basso was one of the very few that I'd beat but he sprinted so well that this is a sign of good form. "Purito" is on the same level as Basso but the final individual time trial is against him."
On the other hand, Hesjedal is the best time triallist of them all. "They have to come and get us," Wegelius said. "But we don't want to plan anything. We take the race kilometer by kilometer. We do the Giro as if it finishes on Saturday at the top of the Stelvio. We don't want to calculate the virtual margin that Ryder has before the time trial. Laurent Fignon was supposed to win the 1989 Tour de France, wasn't he? And the 1984 Giro d'Italia… We'll draw a line on Saturday evening."
Garmin-Barracuda tries to ignore the ideal position Hesjedal is in to make the best of it.