Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) was unanimously awarded the most aggressively rider of the massive mountain stage of the Giro d’Italia to Aprica. The Canadian was part of the early breakaway of stage 16, and then went on the attack alone before the Mortirolo, fearlessly tackling the steep climb and then fighting to the finish for sixth place on the day.
He secured little reward for his huge effort, but as he tried to spin out the lactic acid from his legs on the rollers, almost in tears with the pain, Hesjedal explained that was just simply trying to enjoy a big day out, trying to enjoy racing in the mountains. For the record, he finished sixth, 2:10 behind winner Mikel Landa (Astana) and moved up to tenth overall, 12:49 behind Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).
“I’m happy with the result. I got out there, I raced. I think I showed, you know…” Hesjedal said. “It’s just about going out and racing, going for it, and not being scared. I’m not scared to lose 13th overall. Whatever the result is after the outcome of choosing to race the way…That’s it. I’d rather just do it.”
“Alberto chased me down by himself over the first climb”
The 2012 Giro d’Italia winner was hoping the overall contenders would let the breakaway go clear and fight for the stage victory. He was angry that Contador kept him check on the first climb of the stage, even though he is more than ten minutes behind the Spaniard in the overall classification.
“Alberto chased me down by himself over the first climb. I guess that’s another sign of respect. But I’m at 11 minutes, what do they think? Let the break go…” he said with frustration and sarcasm.
“Otherwise, look what happens. Saxo just annihilates themselves. Maybe it’s all good in the end, Alberto wins, but I just don’t understand it. Let a break get five, six, seven, eight minutes. What’s it to them? But they decide to keep it close and then it’s easy for Astana to take over after sitting on the wheel… and then they inflict pain on everybody.”
“I was a little mad arriving at the bottom of the Mortirolo with nothing but I showed how I rode the climb that I’ve got good legs and that I’m not scared to go for it,” he said with pride, hinting he may try further attacks on the remaining mountain stages after recovering from his huge effort on the road to Aprica.
“I just wanted to get out front and get an advantage but I don’t really know what happened. But I’m not worrying about anyone else, I’m just going out there, racing my bike and enjoying it. I think I’m getting better, I’m in my fourth week of my own Grand Tour after riding Trentino and Romandie.”
“I know my legs are good. I’m not scared of the Giro. So we’ll see how the rest of the race goes.”