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Canadian cyclist Hesjedal returns to training after crash

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The Canadian Press
6/13/2013 5:05:40 PM
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Canadian cyclist Ryder Hesjedal is back on the bike and ready to put a couple of big disappointments over the last month behind him.

Hesjedal made an early exit from the Tour de Suisse this week after suffering cuts and bruises in a hard fall. The crash occurred a few weeks after he was forced to withdraw from the Giro d'Italia — a race he won last year — due to an upper respiratory infection.

"There are many, many, many more downs than ups in professional cycling," Hesjedal said Thursday from Girona, Spain. "This is the way it is. You can't be this far along in the sport without going through all of it."

The 32-year-old Victoria cyclist appeared to be in form at the start of the Tour de Suisse, sitting second overall after two stages. He went down after another cyclist clipped his front tire about 50 kilometres from the finish of the 205-kilometre stage from Montreaux to Meringen.

Hesjedal was treated at hospital and returned to Girona the next day. The Garmin-Sharp rider was on his bike for about an hour Wednesday and resumed normal training Thursday.

He said he was doing "surprisingly well" considering he landed hard on his back in the crash.

"I just had my front wheel overlapped by another rider's back wheel," Hesjedal said. "A quick thing like that. I'm not really sure why that other rider moved so abruptly to come across my front wheel and caused me to have no (option).

"Once that front wheel gets taken out from under you at high speed, there's just nothing you can do. Your balance is gone and you're going to the ground. That's what happened in a split second."

The weather was bad at the time, which helped prevent a more serious case of road rash.

Hesjedal is leaving the negatives in the past and looking at the positives — like the fact he'll be well-rested for the start of the Tour de France on June 29.

"I'm even more motivated from that frustration to get results," he said. "There's something definitely to be said for being fresh going into a three-week race. I'm content in that I know that my form is good. I have had the majority of things go the right way as far as building my conditioning."

Hesjedal became the first Canadian racer to win a Grand Tour event and only the second non-European to win the Giro.

The victory raised expectations for the Victoria cyclist this year. He's determined to bounce back this summer and turn things around.

"I believe I can build and be good for the Tour, so there's still a lot of 2013 and a lot of opportunity," he said. "It's always going to be hard to compare anything to winning a Grand Tour but I'm happy with where things are."

The Tour de France wasn't kind last year. Hesjedal was caught up in a large crash on the sixth stage and later pulled out with a left leg and hip injury.

Race pileups are often an unfortunate reality in a sport where weather conditions can be challenging and riders are packed in tight.

"I'll still look at the positive stuff and the good stuff," Hesjedal said. "It doesn't take away from that when times are bad — and it pushes you to try to get back to the good times.

"So that's what sport is all about. And life in general."

Ryder Hesjedal (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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