When Stephen Kim traveled to Italy for the historic Giro d’Italia bike race (the Italian equivalent of the Tour de France) he knew he had to take his #17 Ryan Kesler Canucks sweater, but little did he know it was going to make an impact on the race.
Kim wore the Blue and Green with pride as he made his way to cheer on Victoria, B.C.’s Ryder Hesjedal who after two weeks of racing, was battling to become the first Canadian champion in the race’s 95 year history.
“Wearing a Canucks jersey in Italy, where no one would even recognize it, I think that’s awesome,” said Kim.
“I’ve been a fan since I was a little kid and I always had this dream to be that fan in an opposing building so this was the next best thing.”
As Hesjedal rounded the corner of the grueling 198km mountain leg of the race, Kim began running alongside the racers, including three Canadians, and sure enough he was seen by not only the television cameras, but by Hesjedal too.
“Ryder Hesejdal gave me a little head bob,” Kim recounted. “I’m very proud of it, I’ve been a Canucks fan through thick and thin so to make them feel a little bit of home is great.”
Hesjedal would pound the pedals all the way to a 2nd place finish in the leg. He would later find Stephen and thanked him for bringing the inspiring piece of home all the way to Italy.
“I received some texts afterwards saying ‘it was great to see someone wearing the jersey. It was a bit of home and seeing it gave us a bit of drive to finish the race.’”
Just two days later, Hejesdal was wearing the pink jersey as the winner of the Giro d’Italia, also becoming the first ever Canadian champion. While Stephen doesn’t like to take any credit, the Blue and Green Canucks jersey he wore may have helped just a little.
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