TOUR DE FRANCE: Seamus McGrath talks Hesjedal, Tour de France

Seamus McGrath talks Hesjedal, Tour de France

Hesjedal’s working to keep team in lead

The Tour de France became an early dog fight for Victoria’s Ryder Hesjedal and team Garmin-Cervelo.

And that’s just what they wanted, said Seamus McGrath, a retired retired pro cyclist turned Tour de France couch-pundit.

The former Olympian is a dear friend of Hesedal’s and the two have kept up with daily phone chats throughout the tour.

As of Wednesday Garmin-Cervelo’s Thor Hushovd (Norway) retained the yellow jersey as the overall leader, ending stage 5 with the 109-rider peloton that crossed with a share of the day’s lead time.

“It’s not really about Ryder’s individual ambition right now, it’s about keeping the team in the yellow jersey,” said McGrath, who lives on the West Shore.

“(Garmin-Cervelo) is responsible for setting the pace at the front of the pack and keeping an eye on dangerous riders trying to break away.

“If one does, Ryder or a teammate must follow to keep pace, and not let them threaten the yellow jersey.”

And that’s just what happened in stage 5 on Wednesday, as Hesjedal, Christian Vande Valde (U.S.), David Millar (U.K.), Tom Danielson (U.S.), Julian Dean (N.Z.) and Tyler Farrar all came in with the peloton.

“To defend the jersey one more day is mission complete,” said Hesjedal in Wednesday’s team report.

“Thor did another great ride to stay in front and the team was very happy to stay out of trouble on another crash filled day. For me, the legs felt much better and that is always a good sign.”

It’s too early to expect Garmin-Cervelo to retain the yellow jersey for all 21 stages, but, with the Tour’s famous mountain stages looming, they’re doing what they need to before the sprinters are separated from the hill climbers.

“Stage 4’s hilltop finish was perfect for Thor, a sprinter with a bit of a build for the rolling hills,” McGrath said.

“Hesjedal and Vande Valde are the team’s leaders and are doing exactly what’s necessary, hanging in there until the hills,” McGrath said. “Right now the course is still flatter and the gaps in the standings are a matter of seconds. But in the hills, guys like Ryder – who is an exceptional climber – can pick up minutes in a day.

“With the next few stages somewhat flat, you can expect them to hold on to the jersey.”

People right now should focus on Hesjedal’s part of the team time trial win on Sunday (July 3), McGrath said.

“Hesjedal is a cream-of-the-crop elite cyclist, a climber who can hold his own in the sprint. It gives him a stage win on all three tours: Spain, Italy and France, the first Canadian to do that.”

As the tour grows increasingly mountainous, it will be Hesjedal’s role, along with Vande Velde, to battle legendary climbers like Alberto Contador for the Tour lead.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Power outage leaves more than 1,500 Sidney residents in the dark Sunday

BC Hydro customers without power since 7:57 a.m. on Feb. 16

Habitat for Humanity seeks applicants for 11 new homes on the Saanich Peninsula

Successful applicants will help build their new homes and receive an affordable mortgage

Next Pacific Opera production tells a refugee’s airport tale

Flight is spicy and complex, with a scintillating score by Jonathan Dove

Registration opens March 1 for BC 55+ Games in Richmond

2020 55+ Games have been officially scheduled for Sept. 15 to 19

Dunsmuir Middle School works with students following in-school protest over cell phone policy

Pupil said he wants students to be included in decisions that impact them

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Murder of sex worker exposes Canada’s hypocrisy on prostitution: advocate

A 2014 law made purchasing sex or benefiting from the selling of sex illegal

Wet’suwet’en return to northern B.C. forest road pipeline workers move through: First Nation

Opponents of a pipeline who support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have reoccupied camps at centre of arrests

Over a dozen birds found mysteriously dead on rural B.C road

Ministry of Agriculture notified of the strange occurrence on No. 4 Road in Abbotsford

B.C. men arrested after theft of heavy equipment leads to highway blockade

One man surrendered to police while the other was taken into custody the next morning, RCMP say

Forestry workers vote for new agreement, ending 8-month strike on Vancouver Island

Wage increases, higher premiums and contract language part of new agreement

PHOTOS: Trans Mountain hosts mock oil spill response practice in Kamloops

Practice comes after an excavator accidentally struck the pipeline near Jacko Lake in mid-February

Most Read