Tour de France: Hesjedal misses out on Alpe d'Huez victory but proud of team performance

Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) battled back from illness to secure a fine third place on stage 20 of the Tour de France to Alpe d’Huez.

The Canadian came into the Tour de France on the back of a difficult Giro d’Italia and took longer than he expected to find his feet in the second grand tour of his season. However, he closed it with a solid ride in the final day in the Alps.

He formed part of an elite chase group after the Col de la Croix du Fer behind the day’s early escape, and on the final ascent Hesjedal combined with Thibaut Pinot to reel in lone survival Alex Geniez. Pinot distanced the Canadian before Nairo Quintana also moved ahead of him in the closing kilometres. Hesjedal hung on for third, however.

“Everyone said that we had three guys coming here for GC but that was never the plan. With what I put into the Giro and the build up, I would just take the Tour as it would come. It’s kind of frustrating to know that I couldn’t really prepare the way I wanted to in between the Giro and Tour because of recovery.

“Right from the beginning of this race we could see that I wasn’t on top of it and I tried to stay out of trouble. The form wasn’t coming in the way that I wanted and I hoped that I would feel better around half-way through the race, but it just wasn’t happening. I had some good days here and there and I helped the guys where I could.”

Hesjedal was deployed as a domestique thereafter, helping Andrew Talansky in breaks as the American sought stage wins and to recover a respectable place overall.

Cannondale have targeted stages throughout the Tour de France and Hesjedal paid tribute to his team, who have picked up number of top 10 places in the race.

“The team has really come around, unreal in the last week with Dylan [Van Baarle] in his first Tour being up in the break yesterday. We had Ramunas riding off the front today and that was crucial. He was keeping it at 50kph an hour and I was dreaming about finishing it off for the team with a victory on Alpe d’Huez.

“I was really in a bad way two days ago when I was helping in the break for Andrew. My stomach was rough and I was in survival mode. Tomorrow I‘ll finish up anther Tour and I think that we can be happy. A lot of big riders came away from this race with nothing and that just the way it is. We’ll be in a good mood and partying on Sunday.”

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