Ryder Hesjedal: An Historical Day

Ryder celebrating in Pink style!
His wonderful expression is exactly how we all feel!
Photo: Alessandro Garofalo

To put it in perspective, Ryder Hesjedal (fondly known as Weight of the Nation) winning the pink jersey today is monumental for Canadian cycling.

Since our first road cycling pioneers of Alex Stieda (First Canadian and North American to wear the yellow jersey in 1986) and Steve Bauer (14 days in the yellow jersey), Hesjedal steps up to be the first Canadian to wear the Maglia Rosa.

In fact, Steve Bauer came so close to wearing the pink jersey in 1987. Bauer Power, as I remember it, came within 0.3 seconds of the pink. He was successful finishing in 10th overall.

Finishing 5th,
soon to become...

The exciting seventh stage was a 202km doozy finishing on top of the Rocca di Cambio. Tiralongo darting around favorite Scarponi to win the stage. Ryder Hesjedal finished fifth, five seconds behind ... to claim the coveted pink jersey. He leads Paolo Tiralongo by 15 seconds and Joaquin Rodriguez by 17 seconds.

He becomes a clear favorite to be chosen by the Canadian Cycling Association for Canada's lone berth in the men's road race and time trial in the 2012 Olympics.

But for now, Hesjedal and his Garmin team will have the challenge to keep the pink jersey as long as possible.

Jacques Landry, high performance director of the Canadian Cycling Association commented, "This is a great result. Having a Canadian wearing the pink jersey is an indicator Canada is getting stronger as a cycling nation. Every cyclist and cycling fan in Canada should be proud of the accomplishment."

Steve Bauer said, "It's awesome, certainly a landmark accomplishment, it shows the progress of our nation. Ryder is without a doubt a leader in the progress, on a large scale. It gives the inspiration to every rider in Canada to do the same, it's long overdue and great to see."

Hesjedal confidently said, "I'm the strongest in the third week. The idea has been to get there and be in good shape."

For us fans, myself included, Ryder Hesjedal is entering legend hood... if not already.

....first Canadian in pink!