“On a stage like that, you could conceivably spend the same amount of kilojoules chasing after somebody else and trying to correct other people’s mistakes. In that case, you might as well take the initiative yourself. Then you have a clear road in front of you. If you make a mistake, it’s your own, and obviously you’ll spend some energy. [In this case] you’re spending energy to gain something, rather than to get back to zero, you know? It was a matter of taking control of your own destiny.”
- Charly Wegelius on Ryder Hesjedal’s attacks on Stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia
Hes-J is riding this year’s Giro like a champion should ride it…no-holds-bar, making the rest of the field hurt from the word go. People were poo-pooing the move yesterday, but it sends a statement: “You want it? Then you’re going to have to pry it from my cold, dead body. Because I won it last year, and it’s mine until you break me.”
Then today, Wiggins lost time, and suddenly, Hesjedal’s move doesn’t look so dumb. Wiggo didn’t crack on the day, but he had to dig deeper than he wanted to when he wasn’t expecting it.
I can’t wait to see what Garmin pulls out of the hat next.
But it is only day 3 and there’s a long, long way to go…
I do agree though Ryder was a proper champ for doing that. I was also impressed by Cadel Evans fighting back after his crash. Both showed real spirit in a great day of racing.
Yeah, I get that, it’s a game of energy conservation. But then again, I don’t think Vaughters and Wegelius are just going to leave Ryder hanging out in front for the entire race. You choose your moments. The course for Stage 3 was a tricky one, and Weg even said that under the circumstances, on descents, Ryder would waste less energy than normal if he was off the front. Better to be out front driving, staying out of trouble, than stuck behind a crash cause by some over-excited newbie. Go out, put your stamp on the race as defending champion, take 8 seconds here, 17 there…I mean, you do realize he won by 16 seconds last year, right?
To top all…this is a team that believes in innovation. Garmin understands that the cards are stacked against them. They have one of the smaller budgets among the big teams. They have to dig a bit and develop talent rather than buying it. They use the latest and best in everything from wind tunnel testing to skinsuits. They are a quirky bunch. So it’s no surprise that their tactics are going to be quirky as well. It won them the Giro last year, the US Pro Challenge, and some spring classics, so the proof is in the pudding.
Watching USPS/Discovery/Astana/BMC/Sky/et al the last few years, it would be easy to think that the only way to win races is to let your leader sit in the pack, protect him, grind everyone to dust by upping the pace, then launch your man to the line. But I think the peloton is changing. I won’t be naive and say that no one is doping anymore, but there are way less than there have been in a long time. With a more level playing field, tactics will naturally have to change. It won’t always work, but those who dare, win.
Besides, you should expect the unexpected in the Giro. This isn’t France. This is Italy.