This week's GP de Quebec and GP de Montreal will be Ryder Hesjedal's last professional races on his home soil in Canada with the Trek-Segafredo rider confirming his final race will be Il Lombardia next month. However, before the 2012 Giro d'Italia winner hangs up his wheel he is keen to make an impact at the two one-day WorldTour races as he explained in the pre-race press conference.
"These are my last races in Canada so I'm excited about it. For Québec, we have riders like Jasper Stuyven who is in great form. Usually I have a better day in Montréal," said Hesjedal who has twice finished in third place at the second of the two races in 2010 and 2013.
The 35-year-old announced his retirement on August 1, explaining at the time he was "ready to move on to other challenges in life." Hesjedal expanded on his decision to stop racing after 16 seasons on the road having started out racing cross-country, with a silver medal at the 2003 Worlds the highlight of his mountain bike career.
"I made my decision to retire around July 1. I had been thinking about it in 2015 at the end of my contract as I didn't have a new contract yet. I was able to get a real nice offer to go for one more year and take another push at the Giro," he said. "Trek-Segafredo gave me that opportunity. I enjoyed it very much. But I won't be looking for a new contract. Everyone have their own reasons but I've been doing the sport for a long time, since my silver medal at the junior World Championships in 1998 just round the corner at Mont-Sainte-Anne. After that I turned professional and I have been racing for many years."
After nine seasons with the Garmin team, Hesjedal joined Trek-Segafredo for the 2016 season with the Giro his main objective only to fall ill and abandon the race. He returned to racing at the Criterium du Dauphiné in June, followed by the Tour de Pologne and Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian. Last week's Tour of Alberta, in which he finished fourth in the time trial, marked the start of his final block of racing before concluding his career in Lombardy.
"I'll continue in Europe for a bit and the Tour of Lombardy will be my last race," he added. "It will be special finishing in Italy. After that I have no plans.
"For now, I'm focusing on racing. I wouldn't mind contributing to cycling in the future, especially in Canada."
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