Canadian rider savouring second Tour de France despite bumps along the way

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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Ryder Hesjedal has left some skin on the pavement along the way but the Canadian is feeling good about his second Tour de France campaign.
Garmin-Slipstream teammate Bradley Wiggins is in third place overall and Hesjedal, enjoying a rest day Monday, is coming off a fine stage Sunday when he was part of the main breakaway group that wasn't caught until partway through the final climb.
"(Sunday) was a good day for myself and the team," the 28-year-old from Victoria told The Canadian Press from his hotel room. "I think we couldn't be more pleased with where we're sitting right now."
Hesjedal stands 44th overall, third among the nine Garmin-Slipstream riders. But he downplays his position. It's a team sport and the Garmin-Slipstream cyclists are united in backing Wiggins and Christian Vande Velde (12th place).
Wiggins is a British track star who is the current world track champion in the individual pursuit, team pursuit and madison. He left Beijing with gold medals in the individual and team pursuit and now is making his mark in elite road racing.
Vande Velde finished fourth in last year's Tour. But the American's preparation for this year's race was hampered by a bad crash in May in the Tour of Italy, which left him with a back injury, three fractured vertebrae and two fractured ribs.
Vande Velde has also had a rough ride in the Tour, crashing twice in one stage last week.
"There's still a number of hard stages (left) and he's known to get better as the race goes on," Hesjedal said of the American. "So we're still working towards (helping) both those guys."
The race has taken the toll on the six-foot-two, 159-pound Hesjedal, who's crashed three times.
"It never makes thing easy, that's for sure. But that's part of the game," he said. "There's lots of guys crashing out there. Fortunately I've been able to get up after each one and not have to withdraw or have any major injuries."
"Any time the body hits pavement, it's never a good thing," he added. "Skin on tarmac usually always loses - the elbows, and the hips and the knees always lose skin. And then it just depends on how fast you're going, how hard the impact is actually on the body.
"I just happened to land on the left side, the same way, all three times. So I was getting a little beat up. Mostly abrasions and bruising and that sort of stuff. Not a lot of padding on a skinny cyclist's frame."
Alberto Contador leads the overall classification, with a 97-second lead over Astana teammate Lance Armstrong. Wiggins is another nine seconds behind.

Organizations: Canadian Press

Geographic location: Victoria, Beijing, Italy

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