If you don’t mind a bit of wear and a few champagne marks, Ryder Hesjedal’s pink jersey — the first one ever won by a Canadian in the Giro d’Italia — could be yours.
The autographed jersey is for sale on eBay, with all proceeds going to support up-and-coming cyclists in Canada through Ryders Cycling Society of Canada.
“It was Ryder’s idea to auction off the pink jersey. That’s just Ryder for you,” said close friend Cody Graham on Sunday, minutes after the jersey went live on the Internet auction site.
Just how much the jersey will generate is anyone’s guess, Graham said, but whoever buys the maglia rosa will own a piece of cycling and Canadian sports history.
“This is Canada’s first pink jersey. There’s only one and it’s the real one — the one he wore up on the podium after stage 7.”
The pink jersey is given at the end of each of the Giro’s 21 stages to the rider with the leading overall time. Tradition has the winner of each stage open a magnum of champagne, which is usually sprayed around liberally.
Hesjedal won the jersey on stage 7 of the race, and kept it until stage 9, reclaiming the jersey again at stage 14 and winning the overall Giro on May 27. He is the first Canadian to ever win one of the three Grand Tour cycling events, which also include the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.
Hesjedal will race in the Tour de France as well, as team leader for Garmin Barracuda. The 31-year-old was sixth in the Tour de France two years ago. The Tour starts June 30, has 20 stages and finishes in Paris on July 22.
Bids on the jersey will close June 20 at 9:15 a.m. PDT. The web link for bidding on it is given below.
The eBay auction was announced Sunday at the opening of a national conference for the Canadian Public Relations Society at the Victoria Conference Centre.
“We have 300 of Canada’s top PR people here,” said Kim Van Bruggen, who handles much of Hesjedal’s publicity and who opened the conference with the announcement. “We challenged them all to get the word out there, and see how far and wide it can take off.”
Also debuting at the conference was the minute-long video of Hesjedal called “Champion” done by Graham and Media One Multimedia Inc. The two have been close friends since junior high school and Graham was the only Canadian media person in Italy with Hesjedal.
Graham’s montage includes images never released before, including the moment when Hesjedal realized his father had come to Italy to surprise him. His father and Graham waited for Hesjedal at the end of the final mountain stage. The only stage left was the time trial the following day.
“He had been on his bike for seven hours and done 13,000 feet of climbing. He had survived the mountains but he was shelled,” said Graham, describing the look and feeling when a cyclist’s energy is completely gone. “You leave everything you have on the road behind you.”
When Hesjedal sees his father, he breaks into a huge smile.
“His dad came up to him crying and said, ‘I’m so proud of you.’ You can see Ryder’s face light up and his energy go from zero to 100 per cent. We realized then, there’s no way he’s losing the time trial tomorrow. We could tell how invigorating it was for him. We knew it then — he’s going to win the Giro,” Graham said.
And Hesjedal did.