After he abandoned the pink jersey to Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) at the end of the uphill finish to Assisi on stage 10 of the Giro d'Italia, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) took it back from the Spaniard at the top of Cervinia in stage 14 on Saturday.
With nine seconds of advantage over Rodriguez, the lanky Canadian reinstated the hierarchy in the GC that followed the team time trial in Verona on stage 4, in which Garmin-Barracuda and Katusha went one-two while Astana was third.
Hesjedal rode away from the group of the favorites with 4km to go. "I just felt good," the British Columbian said. "I felt comfortable all the way up. I wanted to see how the legs would respond. The pink jersey was there to be taken, so I went for it. To be honest, I felt a little sad when I lost it. My first thought was that I'd never have it again, and I feel fortunate to pull it back on now."
"The favorites were taking control of the race," he said. "I didn't really see anyone today from behind. Roman Kreuziger was very strong when his team [Astana] took control in the downhill, but it's difficult to pick a favorite. They are still the same: Rodriguez, [Ivan] Basso, [Michele] Scarponi, [Domenico] Pozzovivo, Hesjedal!"
For the first time, albeit quietly, Hesjedal mentioned himself as a favorite for the Giro. "With a time trial to finish, yeah, I can take time on anyone on GC," he said.
"I'm looking forward to that. But I don't know if I can be a surprise winner of the Giro. I'm not thinking that far ahead. I'm where I'm at and that's how I approached the race today. I'm going to continue to do that, and we'll see what happens at the end of the Giro d'Italia. But you've seen today that we [Garmin-Barracuda] don't have the numbers on the climbs unlike the other teams. It depends on whether the favorites control the race or not."
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