Hesjedal’s Solo Giro.
Ryder Hesjedal may actually be the second most impressive rider in the Giro d’Italia besides obvious winner Alberto Contador. Yes, Aru impressive, Landa, fantastic, chapeau and buckets of Nutella all around, but given his deep hole in time, Hesjedal has won the badass jersey
What’s interesting is that the 2012 maglia rosa seems to be riding his own private Giro, ignoring all other riders, tactics and expectations but his own. It’s a Solo Giro, Hesjedal unplugged from rest of peloton, just doing his own thing. It’s like a Trek Travel Giro vacation where you ride the same stages as the pros — ON THE SAME DAY, AT THE SAME TIME!
Since that disastrous team time trial and a whopping 5:25 lost on the stage to La Spezia, Hesjedal has climbed steadily up the GC, with his own willful and aggressive attitude. While his Cannonade-Garmin teammates are there for support, Hesjedal has largely ridden alone, in breakaways, attacking every day, rolling the dice and gambling big.
There’s a proud, “I just don’t give a shit” vibe to his ride. He’s not calculating odds, measuring out his efforts, quantizing and power metering and riding in quiet desperation. Once he went into GC bankruptcy, he changed his mind set to a definite “Aww, fuck it.” As a race strategy, this appears to be working out well — he might even crack top 7.
Ever since his debacles. he’s been on the front of the race whenever there was a big mountain ahead. He’s even calling it “fun”, saying he’s “enjoying” himself. Which seems kind of amusing and ironic given that by universal agreement this Giro has been uber-agonizing from day one.
Despite practically everyone having dead legs, Hesjedal keeps riding like a man possessed, on a personal mission to prove the time trial was an anomaly and twists of fate haven’t messed with his mind. In some ways, his methodology has lead to a kind of revelation. “I just like to be racing the way I’m racing,” he said.
On stage 19, Hesjedal aimed for the win but finished second, 28 seconds behind stage winner Fabio Aru. Which puts Hesjedal in second place behind the now-departed Richie Porte in the Hors Bad Luck Category.
Nevertheless, he pedals on with his singular redemptive quest in this Giro. High plains drifter, the Man Who Used To Be Pink, Canadian versus World. This appears to be putting some weird kind of existential smile on his soul. “I’m completely happy, you can’t control everything,” said Hesjedal. “I’m happy to be on the front in the third week.”