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Ryder Hesjedal quietly inspires teammates, management ahead of 2012 Tour de France

LIÈGE, Belgium (VN) — Ryder Hesjedal has grown quieter, but more confident in his abilities after winning the Giro d’Italia. Garmin-Sharp sports director Allan Peiper said that he’s not the sort to bang his fist on the table, like Lance Armstrong or Bernard Hinault, but he can get the job done.

“These guys in the team really love Ryder! For what ever reason that is, I don’t know!” Peiper told VeloNews. “Maybe because he’s so laid back, Canadian, Mountie … I don’t know! It’s really weird. Just weird.”

Peiper told a story about some of the pre-stage team meetings in the Giro d’Italia. The tension was high, Christian Vande Velde cracked jokes to lighten the mood, and others sat listening closely. But Hesjedal was lying flat in the back of the bus — listening, but not really involved in the talks.

“That was refreshing, a lot of cyclists I’ve worked with have been very stressed at having to step up at certain moments,” Peiper added. “That seemed to be completely opposite for Ryder.”

Hesjedal placed top 10 in the Tour two years ago, but on the road in Italy he had to learn a lot about being a GC leader in a grand tour. In a stage of the final week, he rode too far back in the peloton even though he knew a climb was coming and missed a crucial split. His teammates expended energy needlessly to pull back the gap and keep Hesjedal in contention.

“I said, ‘Look, Ryder, I’m not going to get on your case, but you’re the leader of the team. You can’t have that happen again.’ That was it, there was nothing more to add, he knew what I was saying.”

Hesjedal overcame Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) on the final day to become Canada’s first grand-tour winner by 16 seconds. Since then he’s been at his home base training. Garmin named the team for the Tour and nominated him as the captain again. Vande Velde, Tom Danielson and Daniel Martin will back him in the mountains.

The momentum in the team is building. As Peiper said, everyone just loves Hesjedal and has confidence in him. The pressroom chatter is of another Tour top 10, a top five, a podium or even a win.

His teammates know his personality and how to look after him, Peiper said. He has the Giro win and team management behind him.

“We are doing all we can to protégé him, give him the right tactical calls,” Peiper said.

“He won the Giro with that type of personality. As long as you have strong lieutenants around you, strong leadership from team management, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t [win with that personality].

“I worked with Cadel Evans, he’s probably not the most outspoken person, but a little more authoritative than Ryder is. I can imagine Bradley Wiggins is more flamboyant than Ryder is. But again, these guys in the team really love Ryder!”

 

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