Ryder Hesjedal on Stage 2. The 'tall Canadian' is hanging with the leaders after Stage 5 on Thursday

Tour de France 2012: Hesjedal steering clear of ‘carnage’ through Stage 4

Ryder Hesjedal holds eighth spot among Tour de France leaders after Stage 4

Ryder Hesjedal is doing it quietly, and avoiding the crashes.

The West Shore native has executed a solid first four stages of cycling on the Tour de France and is just 18 seconds back of yellow jersey holder Fabian Cancellara, tied for eighth overall.

Crashes plagued Stage 3 on Tuesday, thoroughly testing the resolve of Hesjedal’s team Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda. While the pile-ups took down many of his teammates, the man from the West Shore narrowly escaped them, including the crash in the final stretch of Wednesday’s Stage 4.

“We had four guys go down (on Tuesday),” Garmin manager Jon Vaughters told Bicycling.com. “Basically, we didn’t have a particularly good day. By default … the team’s focus is going to have to be on the tall Canadian.”

It’s not ideal for Garmin, the defending team champions from 2011, which came in with a number of loose objectives.

But it’s incredibly exciting for the fans of Hesjedal, winner of the Giro d’Italia in May.

“It’s so complex, there’s so much going on at any given time,” said Seamus McGrath, a West Shore resident and a former national team road racer, and close friend of Hesjedal’s.

“Ryder’s looking really good, and though it’s early still, it’s important that he’s avoided some of the carnage in the first few stages.”

Hesjedal’s also been able to conserve energy ahead of the treacherous hill climbs that make-and-break Tour competitors.

“Ryder made it into the lead group (on Stage 3), and never did you see his nose in the wind, he just got sucked along (in the slipstream),” McGrath said. “He’s played a great tactical game.”

Going ahead, the strategy for Garmin is to protect Hesjedal and keep him within striking distance of the leaders.

“When they’re in the mountains, Christian Vande Velde, Tom Danielson and Robbie Hunter will be invaluable to set the pace and help bring back breakaways from dangerous riders,” McGrath explained.

The trio of elite cyclists, all of whom are capable of finishing top-10 on the Tour, will stay near the front of the peloton to catch breakaways involving any cyclists near or ahead of Hesjedal in the overall classification.

Looking ahead, the Tour’s Stage 7 on Saturday has several steep climbs along the  199-km route, ending with a six-kilometre, Cat. 1 (Cat. 4 being the easiest) hill.

sports@vicnews.com

 

Just Posted

New virgin queen headlines ‘Bee Day’ at Saanich sanctuary

Taste bee spit and check out the hive at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary this Sunday

Several hundred SD 62 students team up to clean the shoreline

Effort aimed at keeping Esquimalt and Albert Head Lagoon trash-free

Saanich’s Falcon Gymnastics finish season with three titles at own tournament

Club hosted the 37th annual Garden City Invitational over May long weekend to wrap up season

Hills to Shore artists open gardens, studios to public

Annual home artist tour visits 11 locations May 25 and 26

Mom who lost son to brain tumour in March joins the 24th annual Brain Tumour Walk

The Brain Tumour Walk takes place at the University of Victoria on Sunday, May 26

VIDEO: Canadian, U.S. Coast guards run oil spill response drills

20 vessels were on the water to practice international response methods

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Young Victoria distillery earns prestigious Scotch awards

Scottish influences range from techniques to ‘kilted tours’ at award-winning business

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana growing ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Brewpub offers ‘boat valet’ for paddlers during Surfrider celebration tonight

Free ‘Surf Formal’ evening features a local art auction, door prizes, live music

Thunderstorms to bring heavy rain, risk of flash floods in the southern Interior

Ten to 30 millimetres of rain to fall over the early weekend

Building a close-knit community in Sooke

Knit 2 Purl Together a community event

Most Read