A season marked by illness and injuries ended on a high note for Cycling Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal when he finished third on Canadian soil at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal, earning him Athlete of the Week honours.
The 205km one-day classic, part of the UCI WorldTour, featured a decorated international field and was won by Slovak Peter Sagan who has captured the points classification title at the Tour de France the last two years. Hesjedal finished five seconds behind Sagan. Among those Hesjedal defeated was the 2013 Tour de France champion Chris Froome. Hesjedal had previously finished third in the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal in 2010.
It has been a difficult year for Hesjedal, who was forced to abandon his defence of the Giro d’Italia title after contracting a virus. In 2012 Hesjedal had become the first Canadian to win one of cycling’s three Grand Tours (Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana). He also had to withdraw from the Tour de Suisse when he crashed and suffered a hard hit to his neck and head. He had been in second place after the second of nine stages. Then he broke a rib in a crash during the opening stage of the Tour de France, leading to a painful and disappointing 70th place finish overall.
On Sunday September 22 Hesjedal will participate in the Tour de Victoria, a charity event he founded with friend and Olympic mountain biker Seamus McGrath that takes place on some of Hesjedal’s favourite roads that he grew up riding.
The 2013 UCI Road World Championships also begin on September 22, continuing through September 29 in Toscana, Italy. Although Hesjedal is not competing, Canada is well represented in the road race by Christian Meier and François Parisien while Svein Tuft will compete in the time trial.
Do you think Ryder will keep his rock star look?