Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal was forced out of the Tour de France with injury but the Victoria cyclist aims to be fit in time to race in London. Al Dannity looks at what the injury means for the Giro d’Italia winner.
Bruised but not broken
Ryder Hesjedal’s dream of a rare Grand Tour double ended in a crash on Friday but the Canadian crucially avoid any major injuries. A bruised left hip and severe abrasions were enough to call off his challenge on the most gruelling race in all of cycling, but Hesjedal is on course to be back in the saddle in time for the London 2012 Olympics. “He’s feeling better and is pretty upbeat, pretty optimistic that he’ll be 100 per cent real soon,” Cycling Canada road director Gord Fraser said on Monday. Fraser is a veteran of the Tour himself and wasn’t surprised this year’s race had been marred by so many crashes. “I was involved in a crash in the tour and I was wedged upright. The peleton in the Tour de France is so dense, it’s so tight that if a crash happens, you really have nowhere to go,” said Fraser.
A blessing in disguise
After Hesjedal’s historic win in the Giro, the first Grand Tour ever won by a Canadian, his participation in the Tour was thrown into doubt. By not competing in the bulk of the tour, particularly the gruelling mountain stages, Hesjedal will get more rest before his two races in London. Despite his excellent form, Hesjedal will be seen as an outsider in both the road race and the time trial.
The road race in the Olympics is often dominated by sprinters and this year’s course appears tailor made for Mark Cavendish. Having won the Green Jersey in last year’s Tour de France, Cavendish has set the Olympic road race on home soil as his primary target for 2012. Hesjedal is more likely to be competitive in the time trial. With just over three weeks to prepare for the race, the Canadian will know his has the power to be competitive on the 44km course after his strong time trial in the Giro secured his overall victory. Taking a medal will still be a massive challenge. Current Tour leader Bradley Wiggins and his team mate Chris Froome will be expected to be front runners in the time trial in a loaded Olympic field. By taking time to recover, Hesjedal is giving himself the best chance at pulling off an upset in London.
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