Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A sad farewell to the hopes of Ryder Hesjedal at the Giro

Ryder Hesjedal in happier times, riding with students from
Lindenwood University in St. Charles county.
Kathleen Nelson photo.
How much evidence do we need of the difficulty of catching lightning in a bottle twice? The Giro favourites we featured on the rest day learned yet again how rare it is to blend ideal form, good health, top-flight equipment and selfless teammates to rise to the top more than once.

Adopted St. Louisan Ryder Hesjedal followed what he called a "tough moment" Sunday and a rest day Monday with a performance that dashed his hopes of defending his crown in the Giro d'Italia. Hesjedal, married to McCluer grad Ashley Hofer, finished 71st Tuesday, on a stage that finished atop Altopiano del Montaslo. He was nearly 21 minutes behind the winner, Rigoberto Uran Uran (keys not stuck) of Team Sky. Uran took off on a diversionary flyer, hoping to break the rivals of his teammate, Sir Bradley Wiggins. Instead, no one could keep up and Uran soloed to victory.

Like Sky's Chris Froome in last year's Tour de France, Uran put his team leader in a spot of bother, and His

Excellency lost touch with favourites Cadel Evans and Vincenzo Nibali. Uran finished 31 seconds ahead of Nibali and Evans, moving into third overall. His Lordship remains in fourth overall but is 2:05 behind Nibali. Evans remained in second, 41 seconds in arrears.

But back to Hesjedal. He's 33rd overall, 23 minutes behind Nibali and out of the running for a repeat. On the whole, Garmin is having a tough go. He remains the best-placed rider on the team. We're sorry to see him fall out of contention, with half the race remaining. He'll probably turn into a stage hunter, given his tendency to fearless, aggressive riding, and the leaders will be happy to let him go.

Sir Wiggins' magical summer of 2012 is starting to seem unreal. His Worship won tune-ups to the Tour de France, the Tour itself and the time trial on home soil at the London Olympics. When the magic happens, you have to savor the moment. Wonder if he regrets any of his sour-puss attitude throughout the summer and fall.

We hope that Nibali has a spare second to savor. Even with a slipping chain and foul weather, he has kept his cool, displaying focus and form after 10 stages of the Giro. He's got the magic for now, and it's a rare bird.