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Hesjedal looking forward to climbs

Spoken like a true climber. Victoria cyclist Ryder Hesjedal, the lone Canadian in the 99th Tour de France, which begins today at 5 a.m. PDT with the 6.4-kilometre prologue, said there can never be enough mountain stages in a race.
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Victoria's Ryder Hesjedal was in a good mood Thursday during the team presentations in Liege, Belgium. Hesjedal will lead his Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda team into the Tour de France starting with the prologue Saturday morning.

Spoken like a true climber.

Victoria cyclist Ryder Hesjedal, the lone Canadian in the 99th Tour de France, which begins today at 5 a.m. PDT with the 6.4-kilometre prologue, said there can never be enough mountain stages in a race.

"I prefer more mountain-top finishes, but there are only three of them this year," Hesjedal said from Liege, Belgium, site of the prologue.

"That means you have to look to make a difference in other parts of the race.

You're going to need to take chances and risks to be the top finisher in the race."

That is the aspiration, after Hesjedal's overall victory in the recent 2012 Giro d'Italia made him the first Canadian to win a Grand Tour event.

The 2012 Tour de France may have only three mountain-top finishes, but it does feature two lengthy individual time trials July 9 and July 21 that will help Hesjedal get ready for the time trial of the 2012 London Summer Olympics, where the Belmont Secondary grad will also compete in the men's road race as Canada's lone representative.

The 198-kilometre first stage of the 2012 Tour de France, from Liege to Seraing, is Sunday at 5 a.m. PDT.

Hesjedal, sixth in the 2010 Tour, is hoping to get off to a quick start this weekend. The early stages of the Tour follow the routes of the Ardennes Classics, one-day races held each April and in which Hesjedal has always shown well.

"I'm used to racing the Ardennes and feature well in those races," he said.