Ryder Hesjedal with Garmin-Sharp teammates at the first ever Tour of Alberta.

Ryder Hesjedal with Garmin-Sharp teammates at the first ever Tour of Alberta.

Hesjedal up front at Tour of Alberta

Victoria’s hero of road cycling, Ryder Hesjedal, was in high demand during the inaugural Tour of Alberta, Sept. 3 to 8.

Victoria’s hero of road cycling, Ryder Hesjedal, was in high demand during the inaugural Tour of Alberta, Sept. 3 to 8.

Hesjedal was the face of the tour before it started and it didn’t help with his finish line gaffe on Stage 1 on Sept. 4.

“It’s just a bike race and you move on,” said Hesjedal, shrugging it off during a media scrum after Stage 2 on Thursday.

Though he was unable to fulfill everyone’s hopes winning the five-stage (plus prologue), 843-kilometre race, Hesjedal’s team Garmin-Sharp was able to celebrate the win as Australian teammate Rohan Dennis was first in the general classification.

Stage 1, which originated in Strathcona County (Edmonton), finished with three four-kilometre laps of Camrose. Hesjedal was leading the race when he thought and celebrated prematurely as he thought he was a done one lap too soon.

Regardless of the incident, after which Hesjedal finished with the peloton, the 2012 Giro d’Italia winner was a contributer to Garmin-Sharp’s overall success helping Dennis win the new race. Hejsedal ended the tour 60th overall, 18 minutes and 39 seconds back of GC winner Dennis, who completed it in 17 hours, 48 minutes and 40 seconds.

“This race has been on the schedule for a while, everyone was wondering what it was going to be like. It’s a new event and it’s what we’re used to, big time bike racing,” Hesjedal said.

“It’s got lots of support and I’m sure we’ll see it on the calendar for a while.”

Giving the Tour a shot in the arm was the challenge of Peter Sagan, as the 23-year-old sprinting sensation and multiple Tour de France stage-winner was in the hunt for first in the Alberta GC. Sagan won four of the six stages, the opening 7.8 km prologue, an individual time trial, as well as Stages 1 and 5. He also placed third on Stage 2.

But Garmin was able to capitalize on Sagan’s lack of teammates from Cannondale Pro Cycling, though the Slovakian ended the Tour of Alberta on a high note.

“It’s strength in numbers and Garmin (had) more riders than (Sagan’s) team,” Hesjedal said.

The 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, a countryman of Dennis, won Stage 4.

Hesjedal returns to the Island for the 2013 Tour de Victoria, Sept. 22.

sports@vicnews.com