Ryder Hesjedal took time, after dinner on Wednesday night, to talk us through those 39 kilometres and 46 minutes of pain.
PEZ: Have you had harder days on the bike than yesterday, Ryder?
Ryder: Yeah, I think so; in the TTT it’s a just kind of suffering, more intense. I was sitting behind four of the fastest time trial riders in the world – I was just pleased to stay there! It was very hard, but it worked out for us.
PEZ: Was there a game plan?
Ryder: You always have to have a plan, especially in a TTT. But a lot unfolds when you roll down that start ramp; the key to a good TTT is that you have to adjust ‘on the fly.’ Unforeseen things happen and you have to make quick decisions.
PEZ: You watched the early starting team’s crashes on the bus TV – did that have any influence on your plan?
Ryder: Not really, we’d been round the course a couple of times and we knew that there would be guys dropping it. It was like, “Oh! OK! Guys are crashing – we won’t do that!”
PEZ: Who’s ‘team captain?’
Ryder: Mostly Whitey (DS, Matt White) from the car, he’s calling the play, he sees what’s happening, from behind. When you’re moving up to the front of the line you don’t know what’s happening behind, if someone isn’t going to go through and you have to drop in then he’ll let you know on the radio. Over 39 K all those little bits of information and guidance add up.
PEZ: Did you expect to be down to five so early?
Ryder: No, no, that’s for sure – it was surprising, but we had to deal with it. There was no option, that was the pace we needed and we had to go with it – if I had come off the wheel then they’d have had to slow down, but the decision was made and it worked out.
It didn’t take long before these nine super strong riders were whittled down to five – less than halfway.
PEZ: Did you feel under pressure at that moment?
Ryder: Oh yeah! I was also upset that I wasn’t contributing, but that wasn’t really surprising; they are four of the world’s top TT specialists and it was a task in itself to sit on, never mind going through. I realised that my only role was to stay there – so yeah, it was a little stressful.
PEZ: The course?
Ryder: It was pretty interesting! It was technical in the city, the surface was bad – seams, bumps, transitions. And some parts on the small roads were more like mountain bike trails. But it unfolded as an exciting race and if you’re a pro then you have to be able to tackle anything.
PEZ: Would road bikes have been better suited to that course?
Ryder: No, no, for sure not. It was diverse, technical and windy with slow sections – a bit of everything. But the last part was full blown ‘go as fast as you can,’ and that’s where the TT bikes came into their own.
PEZ: How were the numbers?
Ryder: I think we have Davie Zabriskie’s Power Tap readings for the stage up on the team web site. Off the top of my head, I think I averaged 391 watts; speed wise, we were into the 70’s at least – but I didn’t spend any time looking at my computer, I was too busy looking at the wheel in front!
Ryder is a damn fine time trialist in his own right – just to put things into perspective.
PEZ: Were there any ‘heart stopping’ moments?
Ryder: No, we nailed it perfectly; we were ‘on’ from start to finish. I guess though – just when we went down to five in a single moment!
PEZ: The toughest part?
Ryder: On the climb, when the guys were going off. I was on the on the limit and had to push through to get over the top; I had to dig deep because the race went right into the technical section – but the last 12 K was a lot simpler.
PEZ: Who was strongest?
Ryder: They were all riding at an unreal level; all complementing each other – I had the best seat in the house, so I could see what was going on! Brad is in great condition and he really shines in these events; David Millar is showing his best form in a long time and Davie Zabriskie is one of best in the world against the watch. Everyone was ‘on’ – four of the best TT guys in the world.
Expect to see Ryder and the Garmin boys do something special in the next couple weeks.
PEZ: Any ‘with hind sights?’
Ryder: It’s always easy to look back and say what you’d have done differently; but I don’t know if we’d have changed anything, under the circumstances. What happened, happened, if we’d changed things then maybe we wouldn’t have been second, as close as we were to Astana – second place was pretty good.
With thanks to Ryder for his time and for giving us a great race to watch.