Giro d'Italia

Hesjedal leads Cannondale-Garmin squad for Giro

Ryder Hesjedal, the 2012 champion of the Italian grand tour, will lead the squad's GC hopes

SANREMO, Italy (VN) — Cannondale-Garmin will race the 2015 Giro d’Italia, which starts Saturday in Liguria, with 2012 winner Ryder Hesjedal. The team also includes Americans Tom Danielson and, racing in his second grand tour, Nathan Brown.

Cannondale named its team Thursday ahead of the three-week race that runs May 9-31. Hesjedal, a Canadian, is the clear leader after placing ninth in 2014 and winning three years ago.

“Youth and experience” will help “Easy Ryder” in the 2015 edition. Besides Hesjedal, Danielson, and Brown, the team includes Colombian Janier Acevedo, Portugal’s Andre Cardoso, Dutchman Tom-Jelte Slagter, and Italians Davide Formolo, Alan Marangoni, and Davide Villella.

Acevedo, Brown, and Formolo will start their first Giro. Formolo, 22 and in his second professional season, is the only cyclist on the nine-man team who has yet to race a grand tour.

“Ryder Hesjedal, champion of 2012 Giro d’Italia, headlines Cannondale-Garmin’s 2015 Giro team,” Cannonade sport director Charley Wegelius said in a team press release.

“Ryder approaches the Giro in strong form and knows how to pace himself in grand tours. His vast experience, especially as a Giro winner, will be a precious resource for the team.

“Racing the Giro with a former winner on the squad is a unique opportunity for our younger riders like Nate Brown, Davide Formolo and Davide Villella and one that I expect them to take full advantage of.”

Hesjedal, 32, tailored his early season around the Giro d’Italia. It passed relatively quietly, closing with 24th place overall in Switzerland’s Tour de Romandie.

He should not be overlooked even if he is not a top favorite alongside Richie Porte (Sky), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), and Rigoberto Urán (Etixx-Quick-Step). He said the team is ready.

“I couldn’t be more excited to start another Giro d’Italia with such a great group of people,” Hesjedal said.

“The riders and staff know how hard a three-week race is and I know we are all ready for the challenge, and prepared to continue our strong legacy with the race.”

Hesjedal helped Jonathan Vaughters’ team debut in grand tours in 2008 with a team time trial win in Palermo that put American Christian Vande Velde into the leader’s pink jersey. The team won another time trial in 2012 in Verona.

After his 2012 Giro win, Hesjedal had a lean 2013 season that only worsened after he revealed he doped at the start of his career. He bounced back well in 2014 with a strong performance in the Giro and a stage win at the Vuelta a Espana, the second of his career at the Spanish grand tour.

His 2014 Giro result came after the team lost favorite Dan Martin and Koldo Fernández in a crash during the team time trial in Belfast. He used his experience to escape with eventual race winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar) on the snow-ravaged Stelvio stage and moved into the top 10 overall.

“Ninth at the Giro doesn’t sound quite as nice as winning the Giro, but we had a lot of shit go down,” he told VeloNews this spring.

“I had to race it a different way and go on the attack, take chances, and almost won one of the hardest stages anyone has ever seen.”