Ryder Hesjedal Withdraws from Giro d’Italia; Defending Champion has Suffered Since Stage 8
Team Garmin-Sharp announced that Ryder Hesjedal, defending champion of the Giro d’Italia, has been forced to withdraw from the race after suffering since the Stage 8 Time Trial. Stage 9 saw him in difficulty on the final two climbs but the team and Hesjedal believed that the rest day would provide respite and recuperation for the 2012 champion. However, Stage 10 saw him suffer again – he was not able to get the power he needed on the first climb of the day, and he struggled to finish the stage. After being evaluated by team medical staff that evening, the next morning Hesjedal was determined to start Stage 11 with a new focus for the Garmin-Sharp squad on stage wins. The team’s new strategy paid off, with Ramunas Navardauskas claiming victory, but the conditions on yesterday’s rainy, cold stage combined with Hesjedal’s deteriorating physical condition proved too much and the defending champion will not take today’s start.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Hesjedal. “I want to be here for my team and for all the people who have supported me to get me here to this point. I built my entire season around the Giro and I came here feeling great, but I have been suffering since the TT. We’re working on it, but we’re not sure what’s wrong. There’s a virus that’s been going around, so it could be that, or severe allergies, or going too deep on the TT combined with both – whatever it is, I’m only getting worse. Yesterday’s stage was just too much for me, I fought to get through it and I know everyone suffered but after seeing the medical staff last night, I also know that its time for me to go home, get some tests done and get healthy again. I have tried my best to honor the number one bib number, the race, my team and fans and its devastating to leave this way. Going home now is heartbreaking. I’m very proud of the team – Ramunas’ win proves that we all came here to race. These guys gave everything to help me. I couldn’t ask for better teammates and I know that they’ll continue to do great things here at the Giro for Garmin–Sharp. Now, I’ll go home, focus on recovering, and take things day by day, and I’ll be cheering on the team from there.”
Team physician, Shannon Sovndal added: “the athlete’s health is our priority. We’ve been trying to uncover what’s going on with Ryder. He came into the race in stellar form, ready to defend his title, and clearly he’s been suffering since the TT. His condition is not improving so we decided it’s time for him to go home, get testing done, and focus on getting healthy again.”
Team director, Charly Wegelius, added: “Ryder is an incredible champion and a phenomenal athlete. Its difficult to see him struggle this way as he came here in outstanding form – he built his season around the Giro. He continued as long as he physically could because he wanted to honor the race and his team, but the health of our athletes is our priority and with that, we know its time for him to go home and focus on getting healthy again. The team here continues to be very motivated – we proved that on Stage 11 with Ramunas’ win – and we will continue to fight for stage wins. There is plenty of racing still to be done and we know we we will animate the rest of the race.”