Posted by Editor on 02/7/08
Interview with Ryder Hesjedal
For 2008 Ryder Hesjedal moved from the domestic North American Health net squad to the rapidly expanding Slipstream-Chipotle p/b H30 program, and it is already proving to be a successful transition with his third place at the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise last Sunday. We spoke with Ryder this week from his European home base in Girona, Spain.
Canadian Cyclist: Well, first of all, congratulations!
Ryder Hesjedal: Yeah, I can't complain about that. First race of the season, first race back in Europe and I'm on the podium.
CC: How did the finish work out? There was a break of 13...
RH: It [the race] was pretty fast from the gun, and it started with a 7 K climb. Me and Dan Martin were the guys to go for the early moves; Dan was in a move, but it didn't go anywhere. The final selection was made with about 12 guys after an hour and a half. There was good representation in the group so it went away.
The fireworks started with 6 K to go and 3 of us got a gap in the last 5 K [Hesjedal, Herve Duclos-Lasalle (Cofidis) and Frederik Veuchelen (Topsport Vlaanderen) ]. Duclos had a team mate in the break, so he wasn't too worried about getting caught. The rest [of the break] were right there, so I wanted to make sure of a podium spot. I didn't have the confidence in the other two that we wouldn't get caught, so I went and led it out at about 400 metres and then they both came around me at the end.
CC: You are obviously in good shape, I believe you spent time in Hawaii?
RH: Yeah, like previous years I went to Hawaii. I spent the month of October there then we had an early season camp in Boulder and I was in the wind tunnel for the first time on the new bike. After that I went back to Maui at the end of November until mid-January when I came back to the States for our two week camp in Silver City. I think it has been the best pre-season training I've done period.
CC: Let's talk about the new team. You've gone back to Europe after a season with a domestic squad - is this what you were hoping to do?
RH: Yes, it played out as I hoped. During my season with Health Net I was looking for the best situation possible for the next season. This worked out the best way possible - it's a great team and based in Girona.
CC: So what is your role?
RH: I'm one of the experienced guys; right in the middle. I'll be given the opportunity to prove myself, and take on what I can.
CC: Your program for the first half of the season - will it include the Tour of California?
RH: No, not California. My experience in Europe comes to play; that's what I'm here for. My next race will be the Tour of the Med, then the Tour du Haut Var weekend. After that Tirreno [-Adriatico] and Milan-San Remo.
Then we'll have to see - possibly some northern Classics like De Pannes and Flanders. After that possibly [Tour du] Georgia, and likely the Giro is a possibility.
CC: What about the Tour?
RH: There are going to be a few guys going for the first time. I am on the list of candidates I think.
CC: The Olympics - will the team allow the time for that?
RH: It is definitely on the radar, and the team will certainly not stand in the way of anybody who makes their Olympic team. I definitely see myself as one of the top three road riders and the top time trialler, but we will have to see how the season works out.
CC: The Tour conflicts with Nationals, but if you end up not going to the Tour will you be allowed to prepare to defend your time trial title?
RH: If the Tour is in my sights then that is the main goal. If the Tour doesn't work out then I can definitely look at the Nationals and defending my title.
CC: Let's talk about the team a bit. You've been on both Phonak and Discovery - two top ProTour squads. How does Slipstream-Chipotle measure up?
RH: It's operating as a top pro cycling team, which is what it is. It's a great team, the people, the staff, the riders. As a new team there is a certain energy, a vibrance to it. There's an ambience that everyone can feel.
CC: All of the scandals about doping in the past few seasons have led to the teams increasing their anti-doping programs heavily. What does this mean at your end as a rider, how has it changed things?
RH: For me it really isn't anything new, there's just more controls. For me there is no change in how I do things. Slipstream's definitely in the forefront [of anti-doping measures], and that is part of what appealed to me about the team. We're trying to change the guard, and this is a clear message.
CC: What about the decision by the Giro organizers to not invite Astana and High Road, two of the biggest teams? How do you feel about that as a rider?
RH: I don't know ... there's some people who think that it's justified. I'm not qualified enough to have a real opinion, but I know that if I was a rider on those teams I'd be frustrated. It's unfortunate that the riders have to suffer in this way.
Slipstream is new and doesn't have a past history from the last 10 years. High Road is new, but it is still [seen as] the German team from the past, and the same with Astana.
CC: Your next race is Tour of the Med, what's your objective there?
RH: I'd like to pick up where I left off at Marseillaise.
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