Ryder Hesjedal got a special hug from his girlfriend and lots of congratulations from his teammates outside the Garmin-Transitions team bus parked in the Place de la Concorde, just a few hundred metres from the finish line of the Tour de France.
The friendly but extremely tough Canadian from Victoria in British Columbia secured seventh place overall, 10:15 behind Alberto Contador (Astana) but most of all landed a huge personal victory.
Garmin-Transitions lost team leader Christian Vande Velde on stage two when he fractured his ribs in a crash but Hesjedal dug deep on every stage and stepped up to take over the leadership role.
"It's real sweet to finish the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées, knowing you're seventh overall," he told Cyclingnews.
"It's been an unbelievable Tour. Now I'm going to enjoy it as much as possible. I was pretty tired after the time trial, physically and mentally, so I didn't really celebrate. We're going to celebrate tonight though.
"This is only my third Tour. The first one is obviously overwhelming and you can never duplicate that. The second was just a relief of getting back and both times we had great rides as a team and had riders in the top five. This time for me to come back and ride as I did and finish in this position, it's really a dream come true."
Hesjedal seems to have the desire to succeed in such a tough and testing event like the Tour de France. He has the attitude and the aptitude to do his very best in the hardest moments of the hardest races.
"I'm so proud of the way I rode. I wasn't scared and had nothing to lose. I just really pushed the limits and see how far I could lose. It worked out really well.
"I think stage three set the tone for my race but today is right up there too. A lot of people said stage 12 was the hardest stage of the Tour based on what was going on up front. I was proud to be up there that day. Then I think my ride on the Tourmalet put it over the top. I think I took it to the race as much as I could and I wasn't scared to lose big and I think I ended up gaining big."
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