The Canadian abandoned the Giro d’Italia in the second week of racing after coming down with a respiratory virus and although he missed out on defending his 2012 title, he believes that he can regain his form and top level fitness for July’s Tour de France.
“I’m back training on the bike now and feeling pretty good,” he told Cyclingnews a day after watching Vincenzo Nibali win the Giro.
Until succumbing to illness, Hesjedal appeared as a genuine contender for Giro glory. The time he lost in the team time trial in Naples was partly rescued by an aggressive ride to Marina di Ascea on stage three and heading into the individual time trial, he lay in third place.
“It was a virus that was going around and that then turned into respiratory infection. I didn’t really see any symptoms until after the individual time trial, but there wasn’t much we could do other than hope for the best. The way I felt after the next stage wasn’t right. I could just see it taking more and more effect and even after the first rest day it was affecting my body and you could see that in the race. Unfortunately that’s how the Giro played out for me.”
From his base in Girona, as the Giro peloton tackled the atrocious weather and the brutal mountains of the Giro, Hesjedal rested and slowly recovered.
“I watched the race. I’m a fan of racing, so I’d especially watch when I was just at home and more or less sitting on the couch. I wanted to see the guys and there were some incredible rides and I enjoyed watching how the race unfolded. I think the strongest guy won at the end of the race and that’s how it goes.”
Hesjedal was already planning on riding a Giro/Tour double but the lost days of racing, coupled with the fact that the likes of Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Joaquim Rodriguez have all had illness free build-ups was dismissed as being a factor in his chances come July.
“I know I was in good shape and I had an intense build up to the Giro, so I’ve piled on miles and had the form. I was third overall before the TT so the condition was there. I just didn’t see the illness coming so the point was to stop before I really made it any worse. With that rest I’m confident I can build again ahead of the summer coming up.”
“The Tour is definitely the goal now. I want to challenge at the head of the race and then a podium, based on the field, would be an incredible result. After winning the Giro I know that a result in the Tour is possible. To stand on the podium in Paris is definitely an achievement. I’ve not really fixated on goals like that but the idea for now is to get in the best shape possible.”
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