It’s amazing how fickle bike racing can be. She’s a mean mistress, a dominatrix, a nasty bitch in tight black lycra.
You can train like an animal for months, weigh your food, avoid even a single glass of wine and beer, sleep in an altitude tent, do your training camps, build your life around eat, train, sleep, be a slave to your ambition and despite your absolute dedication, luck still plays a major role and many variables are simply beyond your control.
SO it was today on stage four of the Giro d’Italia. on the final climb, legs feeling great, former Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal (Trek Segafredo) lost thirty seconds through no great fault of his own.
He was in the front group until a few riders just up front let a gap open up and Hesjedal was stuck behind. Tick, tick, goddamn it, so pissed, tick, tick. Just like that he’s in a GC hole after just four stages. Not great for morale, not exactly the laugh pad for a Giro podium or top five.
That’s bike racing as they say. Nervous guy in front squeezes his brakes a bit too much, locks up his wheel and goes down, taking you with him. Nothing you can do.
Crashes, illness, bad positioning, sloppy teamwork, poor communication, untimely mechanical or flat tire or no team car around or oil or gravel on the road and bang, another minute lost, another slide down the GC table.
Shit happens — at least Hesjedal wasn’t run over by a moto or side-swiped by a neutral service car. Always something to be thankful for but when this is your season objective, hard not to curse fate because a few riders upfront have no reason to protect your GC chances. They’re rolling in 30 seconds behind the winner and who cares, it’s not their podium.
Hesjedal offered the stand issue response, not the end of the world, make it up in the mountains, etc etc. True and true. “The race is long so you can’t get too worried about it. If I have the legs I know I can have in the second half of the Giro, then today won’t matter. And if I don’t have the legs I know I can have, well… today won’t matter,” said Hesjedal.
Hesjedal has made a habit of coming from behind in the Giro, dumping big time in the first week only to attack the next two week like a rabid dog and pull almost all of it back. His 5th overall last year was a testament to his attacking style and never say die attitude.
He reminded people what bike racing used to be when guys didn’t ask their power meter for permission before making a move. He based his strategy on his instincts and legs and impressed the Hell out of the tifosi who lined the roads.
The clock is also ticking on Hesjedal’s racing career as he contemplates retirement and his final ride in the Giro d’Italia. No doubt we’ll see him at the front of the race in week three, wrecking havoc and causing pain.
Gotta get that thirty seconds back somehow, right?