TOUR DE FRANCE: Hesjedal claws back as team sprints to first

Hesjedal and Garmin-Cervelo win Team Time Trial (stage 2)

Ryder Hesjedal after stage 1 of the 2011 Tour de France

Ryder Hesjedal after stage 1 of the 2011 Tour de France

There is hope yet for Ryder Hesjedal, who was part of the crash in the final kilometres of the Tour de France’s opening stage on Saturday.

Hesejdal was part of the peloton that looked to be completing stage 1 in unison and would thereby finish tied for the lead time. But the Belmont secondary grad and lone Canadian on the Tour was caught up in an unavoidable accident – a cyclist’s nightmare – as multiple racers fell to the road.

Hesjedal’s Garmin-Cervelo teammate, Christian Vande Velde, was also in the crash. Meanwhile, a large group from the peloton continued undeterred, including Garmin-Cervelo’s Thor Hushovd and Tyler Farrar.

They ended the stage at one minute and 55 seconds ahead of the group of recovered crashers.

Hesjedal had his reservations about the likelihood of regaining a spot in the top 10, but has plenty to race for as Garmin-Cervelo was in first place by one second.

“The motivation is still there to do well. We have the strongest team ever for the Tour de France, so we want to have fun, enjoy racing and get some results,” Hesjedal said in the team’s Sunday report.

Stage 2 was huge as Garmin-Cervelo won the time trial and Hesjedal gained 31 seconds on the lead, a push back from the rider who ended the 2010 Tour de France in seventh place.

“I was a little upset (after Saturday’s crash), because that wasn’t in the plans, but we have to put that behind us. We’re here to race hard and we did.”

Stages 2 and 3 were full of sweet irony as Hesjedal’s teammates Hushovd (Norway) and Farrar (U.S.), a pair of renowned sprinters, won the stages, respectively.

Hushovd joined the rejigged Garmin-Cervelo team after a year with the Cervelo Test Team, sponsored by the Canadian cycle producer of the same name. He has won multiple stages on the Tour de France this past decade, nearly all of them in the first week.