He may already have one grand tour in his pocket but Ryder Hesjedal is ready for this year's Tour de France. The Giro d'Italia winner will not race between now and the start of the Tour, which is less than a month away, but believes that he is in the form of his life.
Garmin is yet to announce all nine riders for the Tour and although he will start as a provisional leader, he confirmed he would ride in support of a teammate if called upon by his team.
The Canadian stormed to the Giro title with a consistent display in both time trials and the mountains and despite his relatively compact palmares, could replicate Marco Pantani, the last rider to complete the Giro-Tour double in 1998.
"All I can think about is that I won the Giro and that I'm in the condition of my life. I won this Giro and I'm not dead, and if anything I'm getting stronger and that's where you want to be. So I'm completely optimistic for the rest of the season. I have the luxury of having no pressure as well and nothing to lose. I won the Giro and there's lot of riders who have put everything on the Tour. I think I'm in a good position in that way," Hesjedal told Cyclingnews.
"I don't feel like I have to prove anything. There's no fluke in a three week race. I was completely satisfied with my ride at the Giro and the biggest thing I can take away is the respect from my peers and the previous winners of the race. So for me I don't feel like I have to prove myself or back up the result. But that said, do I want a good Tour? Sure. Do I love the feeling of that now? Sure. I have a new benchmark for myself and we'll see how the future goes but nothing can ever take away from a victory at this level."
Hesjedal went into the Giro without placing undue pressure on himself. Before the race, when asked about his aspirations he would shy away from talk of the top ten and top five, and focus on 'doing my best ride possible,' and it's the exact same mantra he'll be bringing to France.
"I'm just thinking about having the best ride possible. I can't control what other riders do but having said that I've won a grand tour and someday I'd like to feel that again."
Garmin is likely to send a balanced team to the Tour with Tyler Farrar afforded at least one dedicated helper for the sprints. Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Christian Vande Velde and Daniel Martin are likely to occupy four slots, with the team's GC performer from last year, Tom Danielson, a realistic bet for one of the last two places.
With Vande Velde and Danielson for company Hesjedal will ride alongside two riders who, like him, have finished in the Tour's top 10. However he believes the team will ride collectively.
"I'm always there as a team player. It's not my decision. I have what I think is good to me but ultimately it's the team's decision and I'll stand by that 100 per cent."
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