This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
Hesjedal crashed on stage 1 before soldiering through the opening stages and the team time trial in Nice. In the last two days, has kept a low profile towards the back of the bunch, moving up inside the finales of each stage and remaining in contention with the rest of the GC hopefuls.
“It would of course be better if the rib wasn’t broken. It’s like having a knife going into your chest and back, and it’s all day with my breathing and pedalling. It sucks,” he told Cyclingnews as he warmed down outside the Garmin Sharp team bus.
Both Hesjedal and his teammate Andrew Talansky sit inside the top 15 on GC, with Daniel Martin and Tom Danielson just a handful of seconds further down the pecking order. It leaves Garmin with a number of options heading into the mountains although Christian Vande Velde has switched to survival and recovery following a crash on stage 5.
“I’m just going to be fighting for it every day, just like I do every time. That’s what we do as a team. We still have lots of guys in the race and that’s what we wanted, and I think we’re sitting pretty good based on how the race has been so far.”
Hesjedal came into the Tour as a potential leader of Garmin. However the former Giro d’Italia winner has endured a mixed year due to illness and crashes. His merited performances at the Tour of Catalunya and Liege-Bastogne-Liege were damped by a Giro defence ruined by illness, while his Tour preparations were thrown into jeopardy by a crash in the Tour de Suisse.
However, despite the fall, Hesjedal reiterated his optimism for the up coming mountain stages and the team’s depth.
“I’ve not shown any effects from the crash and everyone has an open card at the start of the race. We’re going to see who is the strongest, and we have to make calls based off who has done what historically, too. We’ll come up with the best plan we can from the whole team riding together. That what we do every time,” he said, a reminder of the fact he stepped up and delivered a top 10 for the Garmin in the 2010 Tour when a number of riders crashed out.
“Just because you say one guy is the guy [in terms of leadership], it doesn’t make it so. We have a lot of guys here who can do good rides and that’s what we’ll try and do.
“I’m in the Tour, and I feel good and other than having a broken rib it could always be worse.”