VICTORIA, BC ● With Ryder Hesjedal’s unprecedented Giro d’Italia win on the weekend, Canadians can’t help but get a little more excited about the Olympics. Though, with Canada only having one spot open for a male road cycling competitor, he might not even compete in London.
Hesjedal’s victory marks the first time a Canadian has ever won one of cycling’s three major stage races, a triumvirate that also includes the Vuelta a Espana and Tour de France — a race in which Hesjedal placed sixth back in 2010.
Given that cycling is Europe’s second-most popular sport behind soccer …er, football, the victory is being likened to Wayne Gretzky’s 92-goal season or Mike Weir’s Masters win in terms of significance for the uninitiated.
Hesjedal and Michael Barry were the only Canadians on the World Tour during qualifying last season so Canada only earned enough points for the one spot at the upcoming Olympics.
Further complicating matters is the fact that Svein Tuft is this country’s best time trialist. So the Olympic selection committee, which will decide on our Canadian competitor on June 21, has to determine whether our best medal hope is in the time trials or road race.
“I’ve said all along that I’d be willing and honoured to represent Canada,” said Hesjedal, who rode for Canada in 2004 and again in 2008, where he finished 16th in the road race. “I always am. I was in Athens, I was in Beijing and I don’t see why I shouldn’t be in London but it’s not up to me.”
Will we see him at the Tour de France? That’s complicated too.
“It depends on the planning for the year and the objectives and the team’s goals,” said Hesjedal. “I’ll take a break now and see how the body reacts after a tough three weeks. I’ve never been in this position before. I think I have the form of my life and we’ll see where we go from here.”
Source: Toro Magazine