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Hesjedal is top Canadian at Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal

Hesjedal and fan on the climb. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

MONTREAL, Canada (VN) — In front of an enthusiastic home crowd, Ryder Hesjedal finished in eleventh place and took the honors of top Canadian at Sunday’s Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal.

Hesjedal, who finished third here last year, finished four seconds behind winner Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Movistar).

On the race’s final lap, Hesjedal led the chase group that tried in vain to reel in a three-rider breakaway that contained Faria and Patrick Fredrigo, who were eventually joined on the podium by Friday’s Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec winner, Philippe Gilbert.

While Hesjedal made a last ditch effort on the Cote de la Polytechnique to try to separate from the chase group and get a smaller group going, his move was unsuccessful. Instead, coming into the final, the large chase group remained intact, which did not work to Hesjedal’s advantage.

“(In the final), there were too many guys from behind arriving with Philipe (Gilbert), which was not a good situation for the sprint,” said Hesjedal. “Everyone missed out not being able to catch the break. Last year it was different — there were only six of us at the line. But with a lot more guys at the line, it makes it a lot harder.”

To make matters more difficult, Hesjedal’s radio wasn’t working, making it difficult to know exactly what was happening.

Nevertheless, despite not repeating a podium placing again this year, Hesjedal was happy with how both he and his team rode.

“I was happy with how I felt today,” said Hesjedal. “Sure, if you look at my results last year, you could say that it wasn’t good, but every year is different.”

“Last year’s race was hard, but this year, the race was a lot harder in the first hour, and it adds up in the legs,” added Hesjedal. “When it is difficult, everyone is just reduced. It just becomes harder to separate yourself when everyone is fatigued. Guys take risks, and the race gets volatile.”

Hesjedal’s Garmin-Cervelo team was featured in some of the key moves toward the end of the race. With 30km to go, Tom Danielson was in a 14-man break that managed to take upwards of 20 seconds on the chasing peloton. And on the last lap, Christian Vande Velde attacked on Mount Royal.

“We were there today,” said Hesjedal. “Christian (Vande Velde) was very impressive on the last climb up Mount Royal. He was putting on a lot of pressure, and we were represented, which meant that I could pay attention to Robert (Gesink) and Levi (Leiphemer).”

Like last year, Hesjedal ended his season in Montreal in front of his home Canadian crowd.

“For me these races are a very important part of the season,” said Hesjedal.

“I am not disappointed at all to have raced here in Montréal and in Québec. Even if I was last both days, I would have still enjoyed myself,” he added.

Hesjedal, who will not be competing for Canada at the upcoming world championships in Copenhagen, is content with finishing his season healthy and strong. Already looking ahead to next year, he will be starting his season even earlier at the Tour Down Under in January.

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