Ryder Hesjedal realizes that all the hard work pays off after all!
Canada's Ryder Hesjedal, of the Garmin team, claimed the overall leader's pink jersey after Costa Rican Andrey Amador (Movistar) won the 14th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Saturday. The Canadian, who was fourth in the stage, now sits 9sec ahead of overnight leader Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain (Katusha), with Astana's Italian rider Paolo Tiralongo in third at 41sec.
Hesjedal was 17sec down on Rodriguez at the start of the wet and cold stage, but finished 26sec ahead of the main peloton.
"I felt good. There was just three kilometres to go, the pink jersey was there to take and so I went for it," the Canadian said. "I was a little sad when I lost it and so I feel fortunate to pull it back on now. You never know if it's going to be your last day in pink. I think I can take time back on anyone in the final time trial in Milan but I'm not thinking that far ahead. I'm where I'm at and that's how I approached the race today. I'm going to continue to do that and we'll see what happens at the end of the Giro d'Italia."
Amador, whose mother is Russian, clocked 5hr 33min 36sec over the stage, a testing 206km run from Cherasco to here, boasting two stiff climbs at Joux and Cervinia, with the finish line at over 2,000m
altitude. The Costa Rican was first home in a sprint off with his last two breakaway companions, Czech Jan Barta and Italian Alessandro De Marchi. It was the 25-year-old Amador's first stage success in four years as a professional cyclist.
Amador had caught up with Barta after the first climb, and then struck out alone, but was himself reeled in on the 27km-long second climb by the Czech and De Marchi.
The Costa Rican said he had bounced back in good time from an annus horribilis in 2011 during which he fractured a collarbone, injured an ankle and "my own problems when some thieves tried to kidnap me".
"At Movistar we're a very united team and our results prove it," he said. "In 2011 I fractured my collarbone while I was getting ready for the Giro. I also had an ankle problem while I was preparing for the Tour de France. It was a year to forget. Last winter I changed my training and I'm going well thanks to that."
Amador added: "On this stage, we knew you had to have a big lead before the two big climbs. We found ourselves at the foot of the climb with a 13-minute lead. It was doable."
Sunday's 15th stage sees the riders tackle a 169km run from Busto Arsizio and Lecco, with three climbs scheduled before a final 7.8km ascent above Lake Como.
RESULTS: A 206km ride from Cherasco to here on Saturday:
1. Andrey Amador (CRC/MOV) 5hr 33min 36sec, 2. Jan Barta (CZE/APP) s.t., 3. Alessandro De Marchi (ITA/AND) at 02sec, 4. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/GRM) 20, 5. Paolo Tiralongo (ITA/AST) 46, 6. Rigoberto Uran (COL/SKY) s.t., 7. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) s.t., 8. Thomas De Gendt (BEL/VAC) s.t., 9. Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) s.t., 10. John Gadret (FRA/ALM) s.t., 11. Frank Schleck (LUX/RSH) s.t., 12. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/COG) s.t., 13. Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) s.t., 14. Sergio Henao (COL/SKY) 49, 15. Benat Intxausti (ESP/MOV) 52, 16. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/AST) s.t.
1. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/GRM) 59hr 55min 28sec, 2. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) at 0:09sec, 3. Paolo Tiralongo (ITA/AST) 0:41, 4. Sandy Casar (FRA/FDJ) 1:05, 5. Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) 1:06, 6. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/AST) 1:07, 7. Benat Intxausti (ESP/MOV) 1:07, 8. Rigoberto Uran (COL/SKY) 1:19, 9. Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) 1:20, 10. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/COG) 1:21