Friday, June 29, 2012

WHICH BIKE for the " Le TOUR "?

Coming back from the Tour de France i passed through an obscure Swiss Zoll/Customs post and the Officer on duty there was a little more diligent than most . He could see no reason for me having three bikes in the car . Effective immediately he wanted the papers of the bikes ! Just doing his job of course . 

Well most of my bikes are built up from components that i acquire over the years . Some of these come from " Sponsors " gifts and others are stripped off other bikes as i change the specifications of any given bike . In fact the " Reef carbon  TT bike " has yellow rimmed wheels that i use on the Green Bike also , since both are 9 speed geared bikes . These wheels i built up during the Giro d'Italia rest day  in the early 2000's when a wheel rim i was using developed a major problem . Thanks to Stefano , mechanic for the Liquigas/Pata team i rolled out the next day on safer wheels than on those i had arrived !

Back to the Swiss Customs Post problem . As some will recall i was given an older  red Specialised Bike by some Aussies who decided not to take it back to Oz . Only things missing were the wheels and pedals so on the rest day afternoon whilst King Cav and Peta enjoyed the sun i stripped and rebuilt the bike . Then i photoed the three bikes for the Blog Post . Some of the photos went into the blog and recalling this i asked the Customs officer if he had access to the Internet . When he complied , he was able to see all three bikes in the car on the Internet . This was a new experience for him and a satisfactory conclusion to his inquiries .

Won't go into detail about the bikes shown here but most are setup so that i can jump on them and go for a long ride , like a Grand tour . Of course when i do , i add the tri bars to carry the sack containing those essentials necessary for the months of constant travel . Until 2009 i would not need a car and even since i find that at best it is a nuisance . Constant return journeys to where it is parked , are needed unless a driver is available . During 2009 Tour de France there were several days when i put in 300+km days , not good for the health as i found after the return to Austria . Felt fine whilst on the Tour but sharp chest pains misdiagnosed as a pinched nerve turned out to be Embolisms .

This week i have been tinkering with the " Pink Bike " , originally a " Lampre Team Alloy Frame ", resprayed in 2009 for the " Cento Anni Giro d'Italia " . Lousy job then meant a repeat respray during last year's TDF and again no touchup paint made available !

Maurizio Fondriest first gave me this frame in 2002 after Auro Bulbarello of RAI TV at the Giro d'Italia some years earlier had suggested that it would make a great story . That occasion , was a wet Saturday night when Maurizio's brother , Francesco was presenting Gilberto Simoni with a Pink Team Bike , for the next day's triumphant ride into Milano and the Presentation Ceremony !

Some years earlier i acquired a Peugeot frame that i saw in a shop in Hampton Wick over a period of some months . Making a ridiculously low offer,  i had to go to the bank , when to my surprise  it was accepted .
This frame hung around for a while before being built up and left at friends in the Manchester area on the off chance i would arrive there without a working bike . Often times in the mid 2000's i would ride from the London or Oxford area to overnight in the north , so it was a safe bet that it could be needed on some occasion .

January one year i was at the Manchester Velodrome for a Bike Jumble and came across the frame shown here . Some years later a German Bike Expert was able to identify the frame as that made by Porsche .

This carbon frame has seen many long journeys but has never been to a Grand Tour . Some one may be able to tell me what year it was first released but so far this year it has not been used on the road even though ready for use . As you will have noted ALL the bikes have the San Marco Saddle apart from the Red Spec. since that was the saddle on the bike when given to me .

Friday, June 22, 2012

2012 Tour de France

Whilst most countries are busy with National Championships , " ASO " are busy putting the finishing touches to this Edition of " Le Tour "!

Well they are doing all they " humanly " can , with the expectation , that some " prat " will turn up at the start in Liege , and expect to be allowed to compete ! Not only will those individuals let themselves down , but they will provide " fodder " for the Media who will enjoy trumpeting worldwide " Another Doping Scandal  in Cycling "! As regards their  helpers , family and friends , most will already be aware that they have been walking a very " dodgy " path for some time . UCI 's " blood Passport " is reputedly working in most cases , but suspicions do not always lead to positive action , since most Athletes are still given the benefit of the doubt ! Innocent until proved Guilty !

Guaranteed to provide " headlines " , when the Medics decide that " there are grounds" , for exclusion from this " Le Tour ", and that is what the " jackals of the media " need , to bump up their earnings and justify their existence  . So many " journos "arriving in Liege will be desperate to make their name at the expense of this Sport .  Already " forums " are full of speculation about who will be the first " discoveries "! For the most part they appear to favor the Southern Continentals from Spain and Italy but then Team Astana is also mentioned .

How sad that the Olympic and WADA Authorities are unable to " bite the bullet " and announce immediately a " Moratorium " FOR ALL SPORTS ATHLETES !  By doing this the ensure that ONCE AND FOR ALL  Any Athletes with " Skeletons in the Closet " can clear themselves PROVIDED that they disclose EVERYTHING by the due date !

To ensure that this " Moratorium " is effective they must Institute " LIFETIME BANS FROM ANY SPORTING ACTIVITY " not only for the Athletes concerned but for their " Helpers "also ! This would include Coaches , Seigneurs and Family ! We have already seen cases of Athletes receiving Bans , and family members also being included .

With the world being a " global Village " due to the Internet , it is time that " banning " those " Convicted and Sanctioned " from participating in " Forums " ! What does " Joe Public " gain from reading the utterances of the likes of " Joe Crapp "? Frankly it appalls me to see the standards that have stood the " test of Time " eroded to allow " Disgraced Athletes " to compete at the Olympics ! Those athletes grew up " Knowing " the reward for "Doping  violations " was disqualification from Olympic Participation and yet some " do gooder " comes along and says it contravenes their " Human Rights " ! Without naming names or taking sides , i can only repeat the mantra " YOU DO THE CRIME , you do the TIME "!

With this being my 15th visit to the Tour de France , to ride the Daily Routes , i would be so pleased to see a complete " Le Tour " WITHOUT the " taint " of " Sporting Fraud " , but as Night follows Day , i won't hold my breath !

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

TRUTH according to TYGART

Bombshell dropped during this Tour de Suisse is going to distract ALL Media from preparations for the Tour de France 2012 ! Every year we have some circus or other , leading into this the biggest of the Grand Tours . Rarely do the other Grand Tours have distractions introduced as the Athletes wind up their preparations for the event .

In order of exposure to the media we have the following events :

Copied from , the following items :

  "  Armstrong responds

On his website on Wednesday, Armstrong issued a statement in response to the USADA letter and allegations.
"I have been notified that USADA, an organization largely funded by taxpayer dollars but governed only by self-written rules, intends to again dredge up discredited allegations dating back more than 16 years to prevent me from competing as a triathlete and try and strip me of the seven Tour de France victories I earned. These are the very same charges and the same witnesses that the Justice Department chose not to pursue after a two-year investigation. These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity. Although USADA alleges a wide-ranging conspiracy extended over more than 16 years, I am the only athlete it has chosen to charge. USADA's malice, its methods, its star-chamber practices, and its decision to punish first and adjudicate later all are at odds with our ideals of fairness and fair play.
"I have never doped, and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one. That USADA ignores this fundamental distinction and charges me instead of the admitted dopers says far more about USADA, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence."  "

The Media obviously then contacted the "UCI "for their assesment of the situation .

Following these relevations the " UCI " issued their statement on this subject :

  "   "This is the first time USADA has communicated to UCI on this subject," the sport's governing body said in a statement.
"The UCI is not aware of the information that is available to USADA on the persons concerned and has not been involved in the proceedings opened by USADA."  "

Finally the USADA joined the circus with the following statement :

  "  "In response to numerous inquiries regarding the public statements made by Mr. Lance Armstrong, we can confirm that written notice of allegations of anti-doping rule violations was sent yesterday to him and to five (5) additional individuals all formerly associated with the United States Postal Service (USPS) professional cycling team," the statement read.
"These individuals include three (3) team doctors and two (2) team officials. This formal notice letter is the first step in the multi-step legal process for alleged sport anti-doping rule violations."
USADA are clear that their investigation has yet to prove guilt and that all parties are considered innocent.
"Our duty on behalf of clean athletes and those that value the integrity of sport is to fairly and thoroughly evaluate all the evidence available and when there is credible evidence of doping, take action under the established rules," USADA added.  "

Talk about tossing fuel on a fire ! When i greeted Johan Bruyneel at yesterday's  Tour de Suisse arrivee in Gensingen , i said , in reference to the weather , " You must be feeling at home with this weather "!  Had to wait a few minutes for him to exit the car since he had been on the mobile phone about these new proceedings but he had a hearty chuckle regarding my comment .

Those interested in the copy of the letter that appears to have been leaked to the news , Wall Street Journal in particular , can see it below :

Well i am off to the Tour de Suisse , which would have been interesting today , since there are so many Racers , that are well placed on GC for the next days , BUT one wonders how many additional Media will arrive to talk to Johan Bruyneel and the Racers about " YOU GUESSED IT ! "

Friday is the Individual Time Trial , in Gossau , and it will be totally dominated by the " Feeding Frenzy " , that will grow as " everyman and his dog " in Europe try for an original angle on this story !

Saturday, June 9, 2012


As usual i found you in a hurry from one appointment to another , last night , so i thankyou for the short time , that you gave me when we met ! It would be a pleasure to meet , also , those that you choose to convey on the daily etappes , but i guess you would not like me to voice my concerns for the " Sportive Adaptees" , or my desire that the " Le Tour " promote the " Cities fit for Cycling " Campaign which was intiated by the times of London .

AS i mentioned to you , i proposed to Angelo Z. at the Giro del Trentino's second etappe that the Giro d'Italia promote this worthwhile initiative Worldwide . As he no longer is the Giro's Director he declined to act . I recommended that he voice the subject to Mauro , but when i met him in Denmark he told me that it was " A Political matter "! Fact is that another newspaper group ared promoting the campaign in Italy so " RCS " whilst selling newspapers and organising " Sporting Events " appear reluctant to HELP CYLISTS worldwide , since this does not sell newspapers in ITALY !

Could we agree that the cyclist hit by the errant dricer will suffer the same pain and injuries regardless of which newspaper campaigns for their safety !

Attached is my letter to your President , but i doubt he will be able to do a great deal in the limited time before the GRAND DEPART in Belgium , of this edition  of the " Le Tour "! You , the ASO can print stickers to place on the Racers bikes showing YOUR SUPPORT for this Important Safety Initiative !

When those of the Media see these " Stickers " they will do more than any successful Politician can do standing in their Parliaments .

France and the " Le Tour " stand at the forefront of the Cycling Industry so use your " Status " to ensure that ALL CYCLISTS will be able to ride their bikes in a SAFER Environment . Too many decline to use the bike as a form of transport since they fear Traffic and the way Drivers CHOOSE to behave towards " Vunerable Road Users " !

No doubt we will meet before arriving in Belgium !

Attached my emailed letter to your President  :

For the Personal Attention of :

M.Le President of the Republique of France ,Francois Hollande

Your Excellency ,

I should like to congratulate you on your Election to this office . As the leader of an important Nation such as France your voice will be heard and be heeded by other Nations in the World Forum !

During this past week i have been in various locations in the South East of France and seen the efforts to make the roads safer for Cyclists ! Indeed since my last visit to the 2011 Tour de France i see evidence that there is a desire on the part of the French Authorities to tackle the growing problem of Cyclist Safety . In so many parts of the world , the cyclist is viewed as `` Road Kill `‘ , an unfortunate set of statistics , that the Motoring Lobby would prefer overlooked !

The TOUR DE FRANCE is a world renowned event that is enjoyed BY ALL each year and would be the ideal venue to remind ALL ROAD USERS that there is a place on the roads for ALL USERS !

At the Arrivee in Rumilly last night , i had occasion to speak with Chris Prudhomme , Director of the " TDF " and the " Face and Voice of the TDF " for some years now after the retirement of Jean Marie Leblanc . I first met Chris whilst he was working with France TV and i know that he listened then to my views on Cycling and my efforts to assist „ " " Handisport " !

My suggestion to him last night , was that " The LeTour " publicise the Campaign started by the " Times Newspaper of london " which appears to be gaining Worldwide notice and endorsement "Cities fit for Cycling " !

This campaign was ignored at the „ Giro dÌtalia, since it is being promoted in Italy , by a rival Newspaper Group . Can you imagine that an errant motorist stricking a Cyclist , cares which " newspaper " the Cyclist chooses to read ?

Over the years i have seen too many people become victims of the " ME FIRST " generation ! In these harsh economic times so many French People and other Nationals are having to consider the Cycle as a means of transport , so as to balance their familly budget ! So many people are too frightened to get on a bike because of their fear of the traffic . Indeed during the Giro i met many who have given up Cycling because it has now become too hazardous , and their families rely on their income .

Victims of Cycling Tragedies come from all walks of life , The Surgeon Father of Cyclist , Tyler Farrar , the Founder of the Willier Cycles Company , Paul Crake an Australian Cycle Racer , Amy Gillett , an Olympic Rower turned Cycle Racer , not to forget Wouter Weylandt , who died in the 2011 Giro dÌtalia . So many day to day Commuters are struck down but do not get a mention since they are part of life`s everyday fabric .

BY YOUR INTERCESSION ´, The Organisation of the Tour de France , COULD bring the WORLD MEDIA’s attention to the plight of the everyday Cyclist , and ensure that the Governments of the World follow France’s efforts to ensure ALL Cyclists arrive home to their family each night !
Many Politicians mean well when they voice their concerns to their Constituents BUT it takes a World Leader to motivate them to act in Concert !

As a humble cyclist , i enjoy the hospitality that the french people of ALL persuasions offerme . I am known to trample on the feet of those who think that my few efforts on behalf of the " Sportive Adaptees " are not worthy of consideration . I know i would not succeed as a Politician but will continue to turn the pedals at the next " Le Tour " , which is my 15th Tour de France , riding each etappe in full day by day !

Sunday, June 3, 2012


GREAT NEWS THAT RYDER IS GOING TO THE TOUR ! Not only that but there will be enough Gas in the Tank to give ALL the " favourites " indegestion ! Said it , some time back , that i don't expect the previously named favourites to be on the top step and perhaps not even on the Podium .

These are such  Great Articles that I have copied them in full !

Sit back and enjoy !

Q&A Vande Velde: ‘We won the Giro with chip on our shoulders:’ Inside Hesjedal’s historic Giro win
By Andrew Hood
Published Jun. 2, 2012
Updated 7 hours ago

Christian Vande Velde (front) was a key player in Ryder Hesjedal's win at the 2012 Giro d'Italia. Photo: Graham Watson |
Christian Vande Velde had a front-row seat to history during Ryder Hesjedal’s victorious ride at the Giro d’Italia last month.

The veteran American rode unselfishly in the trenches for his Garmin-Barracuda teammate, providing vital support in the mountain stages to help pace Hesjedal into the history books as the first Canadian to win a grand tour.
Vande Velde, who wore the pink jersey in 2008, also shared a room with Hesjedal throughout the three-week battle and said one key to victory was Hesjedal’s calm demeanor and laid-back approach as the pressure built with each passing day.
VeloNews caught up with Vande Velde to reflect on what went on behind the scenes during the Giro. Here are excerpts from the telephone interview with Vande Velde, who is currently training in Boulder to prepare for the Tour de France:
VN: What does Hesjedal’s victory mean now that you’ve had nearly a week to reflect on it?
Christian Vande Velde: It really is massive. I remember on the final TT, our bus driver is quite the magician when it comes to tech stuff and he set up a TV so we could all watch it outside the bus. Everyone was yelling and screaming, jumping around and freaking out. To tell the truth, I had no emotion when he won. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was so surreal.
VN: You roomed with Hesjedal during the Giro; did you talk about winning?
VdV: We never talked about it. We didn’t want to jinx it. We had a phenomenal first week. We won the TTT and had the pink jersey. The pressure was off our shoulders. Toward the end of the Giro, we were all thinking, wait a second, we can pull this off. The stars were starting to align. My form was coming on great at the end. Peter [Stetina] was riding amazing. The big boys on Garmin digging deep, a lot of time before the TV cameras came on. Everything just worked out 100 percent in our favor. It was like it was our destiny.
VN: Has it settled in now for you that Hesjedal actually won the Giro?
VdV: I don’t know if this is going to sink in for 10 years. It’s just too surreal and too new to even think about it. It’s like when you’re around kids when they’re growing up. When you’re with them every day, you do not notice, but if you haven’t seen them for four months, then you realize how much they’ve changed. That’s the way this Giro victory is for us. On the outside, we were a team that was never touted to win the Giro. We didn’t come with that mindset. We came with the idea of winning the TTT and some stages and maybe with the idea that Ryder could do a great Giro. But winning? You never want to put that kind of pressure on yourself.
VN: Ryder seemed pretty tranquillo from the outside; how was he handling the nerves inside the team bus?
VdV: We acted like it was no big deal. Every day we just went out and raced our race. I was rooming with him. We would talk some shit before we went to bed, maybe we’d watch TV for a while or read, but we tried to act as if it was just like any other bike race. We’d wake up, ‘hey, how did you sleep?’ ‘I slept good! OK, let’s go race our bikes.’ It was surreal. We could see the expectations growing as the race went on, but we didn’t dare bring it up. We both knew it was possible, but we didn’t want to talk about it. We kept it low-pressure and chill. That’s why we had so much success.

VN: When did you truly start to believe he could win the Giro?
VdV: It was the rest day last Monday. We got through those two mountain stages pretty much unscathed. That day in the rain (Reiselli) was not his best day. He had some mechanical problems, he wasn’t feeling good, it was cold, rainy. If that was his bad day – and he lost 30 seconds? – OK, I started thinking, maybe we can go far. Then on that stage to Falzes, we were at the front all day, and we were not pushed to our max at all. I looked over at Ryder; ‘we’re going pretty fast right now!’ Ryder was right there at the front. That’s when I started to get confident. Ryder already was. Then on Pampeago, I said, do not do anything crazy, do not attack unless you know you’re going to take time, and then he did, on the day that everyone thought he was going to lose time. Then on Saturday at the Stelvio, it was ours to lose.
VN: It seemed like the final climb up the Stelvio was very similar to what Cadel Evans faced last year in the Tour de France when Andy Schleck was attacking up the Galibier and Evans had to claw back that time to save the Tour …
VdV: It was a carbon copy. That effort of what he had to do in the last 15 to 20 minutes of the stage: It was about the same length, the same epic setting, the same people falling apart. It was the exact carbon copy of what Evans did to win his Tour last year. That was critical to everything.
VN: You were great in that stage. What was it like riding at the front up the Stelvio with the pink jersey on the line?
VdV: I will remember that day for the rest of my life. No one had any teammates left at that point. It was every man for himself from there, and Ryder took over. I was four minutes ahead in the breakaway when they called me out of the breakaway to wait. It seemed like it took four hours for the peloton to catch me. Group after group came flying by, including that one group with De Gendt. Peter [Stetina] did a great job in the valley. He was just getting everything out of his body. Then I took over from Bormio until as far as I could go. I counted every meter and I pulled until 8.6km to go.
VN: That stage was critical – everything was on the line – and Liquigas and Katusha seemed to want to put Ryder under pressure, so you really had to grab the bull by the horns?
VdV: There was no choice. When I finished, there were no teammates for anyone. They were really trying to screw us in the valley. No one was doing anything and De Gendt was really making some time. Liquigas had done so much work until then – they had shot all their bullets. Katusha was trying to put pressure on Ryder. I was on a very, very good day and I knew that was the day that it was all going to matter.
VN: Describe what it’s like to be at the top of your game, in the Giro’s most epic stage, when the pink jersey is on the line?

VdV: It was like, holy shit, this is really happening. You’re suffering, but you’re not really suffering: You’re just dead. You’re pushing as hard as you can. It was really neat to be in that situation. It’s something that I will never forget. It was one of the highlights of our careers.
VN: What does it mean to the Garmin organization to win this Giro?
VdV: It’s almost incomprehensible. When we started in 2008, at that point in time, we didn’t even think it was possible to win a grand tour. This is really a litmus test for clean sport and how far the sport has come. It’s a great thing for our team and for our sport in general. We never would have thought this would have been possible. That’s how far our sport has come.
VN: How far has the team come since 2008? I remember you once telling me how after you won the pink jersey in Palermo that the team left you behind and you had to take a taxi back to the team hotel …
VdV: That says it all, about how the team was at the time. We were so far above our heads in what we were doing. Only a few of us on the team had any experience at the time. Back in 2008, a lot of us were just managing to finish the stage each day. This time, we were winning the Giro. It’s a massive difference to be at the front with the team and fighting for the overall.
VN: Alan Peiper was saying how this Giro was the first time Garmin truly had a plan for GC – how in other grand tours, it was more of a ‘let’s just hope for the best and see what happens.’ Is that true?
VdV: That’s 100 percent accurate. This team has always been open, every man for himself, every rider got a chance. This time we went in with one set leader. I was happy that I was there to help.
VN: Everyone talks about how laidback Ryder is – did you ever see him nervous or panicking behind the scenes?
VdV: Not once. We kept it as cool as possible in the room. On the bus, we kept it positive. The biggest day he stressed out was the day that Ramunas lost the jersey to Malori. That was one of the hardest points, because even though we didn’t lose time to anyone else, we lost the jersey and Ryder should have had it. But the way we got it the next day, I dropped him off with 800 meters to go, that made taking the pink jersey even sweeter.
VN: How was it for the final-day time trial? It probably didn’t help waking up to learn that the course had been reduced by 1.8km …
VdV: That is so Giro. We were just happy that we were not going up against some Italians, because who knew what could have happened. Ryder had his game face on. We didn’t want to mess with him much. I said a few words to him, but up to that point, he had ridden a superb race, so there wasn’t much to say. If Ryder had the time trial of his life, I don’t know what to say about Purito’s. The way he rode – he just went nuts. Ryder knew more than anyone that he couldn’t take anything for granted.
VN: What do you think the victory means to Hesjedal?
VdV: His life is changed as of today. He’s a Giro winner. He’s in the record books. Everyone’s going to be looking at him differently. I remember as a kid, I had a poster of Andy Hampsten up in my locker at school when he won the Giro. That’s what it’s going to be like for Ryder. I hope it’s the first of many for him.
VN: What was the key factor to his victory?
VdV: The calm. In all honesty, we had the luxury of no pressure. When you start off on the right foot, it’s easy to stay on the right foot. We were just always able to stay ahead of the game. There was never any moment when we had to panic to take back time. That’s key to having a great race. And he was able to make things happen when people were not expecting it. He was an opportunist and using his underdog role to the maximum.
VN: Were you surprised that Scarponi or Basso never truly laid down a major attack? Everyone was waiting for that and it just never came …
VdV: The big surprise was how good we were. I kept thinking, ‘Oh man, they’re going to throw everything at us today.’ But they never did. One day, I said to Ryder to get ready for some big attacks, and he said to me, ‘We’re the strongest in the peloton.’ Even on the Mortirolo, I was expecting everyone to come roaring down our necks. That’s when I realized that they guys were just dead. That’s when I realized they didn’t have anything left to attack Ryder.

VN: How big of a surprise or a threat was De Gendt? He came out of nowhere and almost won the Giro …
VdV: To be honest, that was our biggest scare. I knew how strong he was and how good he is in the time trial. Even in that final time trial, after we took some time back on him, I thought it was possible he could win the Giro. That was scary, when he attacked on the Stelvio stage. He was always there, always eighth, ninth, 11th. De Gendt was always just there, and then suddenly he’s riding away, everyone was like, ‘holy shit!’ I don’t think when the Giro started that he expected to be on the podium. I am sure he’s pleasantly surprised to be there.
VdV: There’s one more thing I want to add that we haven’t talked about. We raced the Giro with a massive chip on our shoulders and that was critical. We felt like people didn’t give us much respect or appreciate how much we were at the front of the race from start to finish. The Italians were not giving us much space in the peloton. We caught a bunch of flack: The Italians kept trying to push us out of the way. I can understand that it’s their race. It would be like the Colombians handing it to us at the Tour of Colorado. I know it’s their race, but it wasn’t like it was our first year in Europe. That chip was firmly set on our shoulders and it helped us win this Giro.
FILED UNDER: Giro d'Italia / News / Road TAGS: Christian Vande Velde / Garmin-Barracuda / Giro d'Italia / Ryder Hesjedal

Andrew Hood
Hood cut his journalistic teeth at Colorado dailies before the web boom opened the door to European cycling in the mid-1990s. Hood's covered every Tour since 1996 and has been VeloNews' European correspondent since 2002. He lives in Leon, Spain, when he's not chasing bike races.
All articles by Andrew

Another article from Bicycling !

PRO CYCLING NEWS: Hesjedal Makes History
GARMIN INSIDER: Garmin's Giro Surprise A week after winning the 2012 Tour of Italy, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) sat down with Bicycling correspondent James Startt to reflect on his historic victory and his ambitions at the upcoming Tour de France.

Bicycling: Last week you became the first Canadian to win a Grand Tour. How's it feel to make history?

Ryder Hesjedal: Good! That's not why I do what I do, but it's definitely cool.

Bicycling: What was it like to put on the pink jersey in Milan?

Hesjedal: It was a huge relief—it was incredible. But it's also hard to describe. It's hard to describe everything you go through in a three-week tour like that. It's brutal. For the race to go as it did, and for us to ride as we did as a team, to make this a reality was just incredible. To pull it off, down to the final day, to the final seconds, it doesn't get any bigger than that.

Bicycling: Joaquim Rodríguez did the time trial of his life and in the end finished only 16 seconds behind you overall.

Hesjedal: Yeah, I knew it would be close. I was upset when I lost those 14 seconds the day before on the Stelvio; the race was that tight. And I'd much rather start the final time trial with 17 seconds to make up as opposed to 31. I knew it was not going be easy in any respect. I had the time trial of my life, too, and that's something that makes this victory sweeter.

Bicycling: When did you realize you could win the Giro?

Hesjedal: Well, that was really never in my mind. I was focusing on the next day. Every day I was trying to keep myself in it. Obviously I was aware every day of the situation as it unfolded, but I never fixated on a goal in the sense of "I can win" or "I can be podium." It was just executing every day and as I got closer. I still kept myself in that picture. It wasn't until we got through the two final mountain days that I said, "Well, I'm only 31 seconds down on Rodríguez and all we have is a time trial." That was the only time I said "I can win this race."

Bicycling: So it was after the Stelvio that you understood that victory was a real possibility?

Hesjedal: Yeah, I'd say so. I mean, it's always a possibility when we start the race, and I was never in a position where victory was no longer possible anymore. But I never woke up saying, "OK, I'm winning this Giro." I just woke up every day saying, "This is what I've got to do today to get to the next day." I had a plan each day, and when the day was done it would dictate what I needed to do the next day.

Bicycling: Greg LeMond once said that bicycle racing is more about reacting to others than acting out your own plans.

Hesjedal: Yeah, definitely; and I'm just proud that my team and myself were able to do that throughout this whole Giro.

Bicycling: You started out in mountain biking, and I'm wondering if there's anything that mountain biking gave you in particular that helped you win the Giro.

Hesjedal: I don't know if it's mountain biking in particular. I grew up mountain biking, but I trained as hard as the road cyclists and was probably just as strong. It was the road to where I am now; it's all part of your development. Mountain biking requires all the skills you need in a race like the Giro. What you need to get through a World Cup cross-country event requires a lot of the same tools that are needed in a race like the Giro—power, the ability to negotiate all different types of terrains, and so on.

Bicycling: You started out with some big road teams such as U.S. Postal, Discovery, and Phonak, but then in 2007 you signed with the smaller HealthNet squad in the U.S. Did you think perhaps then that you were closing the chapter on your European racing career, that maybe you would never race the big races again?

Hesjedal: No. Actually, that was a distinct choice as I had offers from other European teams in 2007. But I didn't want to be at the bottom of a new team again, and HealthNet gave me a good opportunity to ride as a leader. I knew that if I raced well in the Tour of California and Tour of Georgia and other top races in North America that I'd still be on the radar. I wanted to take control of my career and it gave me the chance to be a little closer to home.

It also gave me the opportunity to buy my house in Hawaii and go there and focus on the training that I needed to do. That move to race in the States that year was one of the best things I ever did. That's what helped me get to the Slipstream team and it worked out perfectly. I wouldn't change anything.

Bicycling: You really came into your own with the Garmin team. Is there any one thing that the team has given you that's been key to your success?

Hesjedal: Being there at the start of something has been great. Back in 2008, Slipstream-Chipotle wasn't taken very seriously. We were just a start-up American team. We had to prove ourselves every day. And I remember our first race in Europe, the Grand Prix de la Marseillaise. I almost won that race and was on the podium right out of the gate. And since then the relationship with my team has always been 100 percent mutual. It's been very satisfying.

Bicycling: There have always been a lot of experienced riders on the team. Did anyone in particular really guide you on your path to become one of the world's top professionals?

Hesjedal: That would have to be Christian Vande Velde. He was in Girona, Spain, when I arrived and was trying to get in the scene. He really took me under his wing. We had a lot of parallels, too. He had a great career on the track before getting into the road that sort of mirrored my career in mountain biking. We could relate to each other. He was always the first one to give me advice and help me out, and that goes a long way. We've been through a lot together starting back in the Slipstream days.

Bicycling: Vande Velde was often the last guy with you in the mountains of the Giro.

Hesjedal: He's been a sort of super-domestique more than the guy going for the results. In that role he's just simply one of the best, if not the best in the business. He knows what's going to happen in a race, and it was an honor to have his support as the Garmin team leader in the Giro. That was all I needed, to know that I had someone like Christian to count on in a race like that.

Bicycling: Early in the race you said that the Giro was a step in your preparation for the Tour de France. But now that you have won the Giro, is that still the case? In recent years a lot of guys have come out of the Giro just wasted—like Cadel Evans in 2010 or Alberto Contador in 2011.

Hesjedal: We'll have to see—we're still getting over the Giro! It will be up to me to know where I am mentally and physically. I had been planning to do the Giro-Tour double. I've done it before, and that kind of a program suits me. I don't feel that I was fading in any respect at the end of the Giro, but we'll have to see.

If I have to work for Christian or anybody else in the Tour, I am ready to do that. If I go into the Tour and am still capable of riding a great GC, I'll do that. Or if I can go there and help Christian, that's also good. You know, there are so many ways to have a good Tour de France.

 , that i don't expect the previously named favourites to be on the top step and perhaps not even on the Podium .