Hesjedal aiming for top finish in Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) is hoping to close out the American team's Spring Classics with a strong showing in Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. The Canadian put in a solid performance in La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, breaking clear before the final ascent of the Mur de Huy with Lars Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky).

"I think I'm suited to Liège. I've shown I can handle the distance and even get better as a race goes on. I've been close to the top ten a couple of times so based on the signs from Flèche and the start of this week I'm confident of a strong Liège to close out the Ardennes," he told Cyclingnews.

"I've been building this week and hopefully I'll have a good ride on Sunday with the team. Maybe we can challenge for the podium to close out our Spring Classics."

Hesjedal and his Garmin teammates spent the day riding recon over the final 75 kilometres of the course and unlike Flèche and Amstel, Liège is a race that could be decided before the final climb to the finish, an element that could play into the hands of Garmin – a team that placed three riders in the top 26 in Flèche, with Daniel Martin coming home in sixth.

Hesjedal may have fared better in the final climb in Flèche had he waited for the inevitable, but his attack with Nordhaug was the only significant move to go clear inside the final 15 kilometres. The pair built up a lead of 13 seconds going into the final kilometre.

"I felt like trying to push the race would be a good idea. We had a few cards to play with Dan [Martin] and Fabian [Wegmann] so I thought I'd take a chance and try and be at the front of the race. It was a pretty tall order with that final and that climb, but I thought I'd give it a try. We've seen a lot of failed breakaways in the past but I thought I'd give it a go.

"If you analyse it at the end, 13 seconds going under the flamme rouge, I was 18 back at the finish, so that's 31. I probably could have gone a bit deeper if I wasn't swamped with 300 to go but you never know. Maybe if I'd had 25 seconds it could have been possible but obviously Katusha are very strong and they weren't going to let us get away, but you never know there could have been some confusion behind. But I was pleased, I felt solid on the climb even with the effort given beforehand so that's a good sign."

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Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.