The wild crash that felled Ryder Hesjedal in the Tour de France will not derail his Olympic ambitions in London, according to Gord Fraser, head coach of Canada’s national road cycling team.
"He’s pretty upbeat, he’s pretty optimistic that he’ll be 100 per cent real soon," said Fraser on Monday morning at a cycling event in Vancouver.
Hesjedal has taken a training ride since he returned to Girona, Spain, where he lives, and reported to Fraser that he is feeling better after last Friday’s crash on a rural road in the sixth stage of the Tour de France. The crash took down several dozen riders and Hesjedal suffered deep bruising on his left hip and knee. He completed the stage but was more than 13 more than minutes off the pace and decided to withdraw, as he wasn’t able to pedal well enough due to the swelling of his injured leg.
Hesjedal had been one of the favourites to win the Tour de France, after his stirring victory in May in the Giro d’Italia. It was the first time a Canadian had ever won a grand tour bicycle race in Europe. But while victory in France slipped away, the lure of an Olympic medal is near.
London will be Hesjedal’s third Olympics. In 2004, he was still a mountain bike racer and did not finish the cross-country event. In 2008, on road bike, he was 54th in the road race and 16th in the time trial.
In London, the road race is July 28, and the time trial is Aug. 1.
The challenge for Hesjedal now is training as he recovers from injury to be in peak condition in three weeks. Had he completed the Tour, he would have been primed, though there was worry that he would be somewhat sapped after the gruelling three-week race, said Fraser.
Fraser is a three-time Olympian and raced in the Tour de France once, in 1997, where he got swamped in a crash before withdrawing.
"The peloton in the Tour de France is so dense, so tight, that if a crash happens, you really have nowhere to go."