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For Hesjedal, ‘panic is a bad advisor’ at the Giro

PORDENONE, Italy (VN) — The rest day came at a good time for Ryder Hesjedal and Garmin-Sharp.

The quiet, relaxing respite gave the defending Giro d’Italia champion a chance to regroup following his uncharacteristic collapse late in Sunday’s run into Florence.

On Tuesday morning, some 36 hours later, the squad was collectively putting behind it what Garmin sport director Charly Wegelius characterized as an “episode.”

“Immediately after the race [Sunday], he was as confused as anybody. If it had been a bonk, that is a friend you recognize straight away. At first, he didn’t really understand what happened,” Wegelius told VeloNews. “He’s archived it into the past, and he’s ready to move.”

Hesjedal started Tuesday’s 10th stage in 11th overall at 3:11 back of overnight leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), ceding time in Saturday’s TT and Sunday’s rollercoaster stage into Florence.

Despite the setbacks, Wegelius said Garmin is not altering its plan, which is to ride for Hesjedal in the GC all the way to Brescia.

“The stage to Florence was a disappointment. Ryder is only a human being. It wasn’t even a bad day. It was more of a little episode,” he continued. “We should count our blessings that it happened on a short climb rather than a long climb, and that it happened the day before a rest day.

“Scarponi lost a minute on the third stage, and no one said his race was over then. We lost 1 minute, 4 seconds. Obviously, no one wants to lose that time, but it happens. Patrick Lefevere [Omega Pharma-Quick Step manager] always told me, ‘panic is a bad advisor.’ That’s the way to go.”

Yet just hours after Wegelius spoke to VeloNews, Hesjedal was struggling up the Cat. 1 Passo Cason di Lanza midway through Tuesday’s two-climb stage, the first major summit finish of the 2013 Giro.

Wegelius said Hesjedal is not sick or suffering from allergies, two ailments sweeping through the peloton right now. Dozens of riders and support staff are suffering with chest colds and from Italy’s notorious May pollen counts.

Some within the Garmin organization have spoken of turning to “Plan B” for Hesjedal, but Wegelius said the team plans to stick to its guns and carry Hesjedal into the deep mountains.

“There are two ways of gaining time; you can attack or you can keep going when everyone else is slowing down. In the Giro, that’s often what makes the difference, that kind of elimination race,” Wegelius said. “The race is tough enough to provide ample opportunity for that, so I don’t think it’s over by any stretch of the imagination.

“On a climb like the Galibier, you have a bad moment there, you can lose five minutes there immediately. The other guys are not immune to a tumble, either, because the Giro ends on the 26th of May, not in Florence.”

In a word, Plan B sounds a lot like Plan A. That might be changing by the end of Tuesday’s 10th stage if Hesjedal’s woes continue.

“Keep on keeping on,” Wegelius concluded. “I have a lot of faith in Ryder, and all the riders here do, too, that we can still come away from this race with a super result.”

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