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Ryder Hesjedal winds down in Hawaii after ‘best season ever’

Hawaii is not a bad place to unplug for anyone, but if you’re Ryder Hesjedal coming off a breakthrough year, the Pacific islands are the perfect respite to reflect on a phenomenal 2010 season.

Hawaii is not a bad place to unplug for anyone, but if you’re Ryder Hesjedal coming off a breakthrough year, the Pacific islands are the perfect respite to reflect on a phenomenal 2010 season.

The 6-foot-2 Garmin-Transitions rider hit new benchmarks in 2010, including second at Amstel Gold Race in April, a stage victory at the Tour of California in May and Canada’s first top-10 finish in the Tour de France since Steve Bauer was fourth in 1988.

“It was my best season ever,” Hesjedal told VeloNews. “Everything came together from what I’ve been working on the past few years. I’ve been showing consistency and improving in every race. It came together more than a few times this year.”

Hesjedal is taking stock on his season of success from his favorite off-season hideaway on Maui on the Hawaiian Islands. With long, smooth roads, varied terrain and summer-like weather, Hawaii provides Hesjedal with the ideal base to reload after a long season of racing as well as lay the groundwork for the next one.

“I try to spend as much time as I can here in the off-season and in the period going up to the New Year. Basically, I try to get here as soon as I can and stay here as long as I can,” Hesjedal said. “I’ve been coming here for a few years now. I love it.”

Hesjedal – who turns 30 on December 9 – first started coming to Maui in 2005. Since then, he’s made an annual trek to the island and stays in Paia, on the island’s north shore.

There’s no shortage of training terrain, including what Hesjedal described as the “humungous” climb up the 10,000-foot Haleakal¬a volcano.

“There’s some of the best, hardest, nicest riding in the world here,” he said. “There’s no shortage of roads to get in shape here. There are unlimited roads up the side of the volcano. You can ride from sea level to 10,000 feet on a 60km climb. There’s tons of variety and the roads are pristine.”

In 2009, Hesjedal beat Jonathan Vaughters’ record of 2hr 38min set during the Cycle to the Sun event in 1993. Also last year, Hesjedal convinced Garmin teammate Christian Vande Velde to join him, who quickly discovered the roads in December are a lot better than what he sees back in Chicago.

Spurred on by his growing appreciation for the island’s cycling potential, Hesjedal is also working on hosting a training camp open to the public set for December 4-11. Only 15 spots are available, and it’s not cheap at $9,850 per person, but the digs are the five-star Four Seasons Wailea Resort.

“The training I’ve done here in Maui has been a big part of my development over the past couple of years and what I’ve done here in the off-season I’ve been able to carry into the season,” he explained. “We came up with the idea of putting on a training camp here and share that knowledge with whoever wants to experience it at a Pro Tour level. I want to be able to share the training that I’ve been able to do here.”

Other than a trip to the Cayman Islands for a Garmin team camp next month, Hesjedal plans to continue with his Hawaii idyll until he returns to Europe in January.