Hushovd ends long drought with first win in seventeen months
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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hushovd ends long drought with first win in seventeen months

by Shane Stokes at 1:39 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Norwegian nabs his first victory for BMC Racing Team at Tour du Haut Var

Thor HushovdReturning to the top of the podium for the first time since he took stage four of the 2011 Tour of Britain, Thor Hushovd ended a long, frustrating period when he won stage one of the Tour du Haut Var in France today.

The Norwegian BMC Racing Team rider showed that he is back on track after a 2012 season hampered by injury and illness, hitting the line ahead in La Croix Valmer and taking the first leader’s jersey in the two day event.

“This is really big because last year was frustrating and mentally hard,” a relieved Hushovd said afterwards. “I didn't know what was wrong and to say no to the Tour de France, the Olympics and the worlds and not do anything for the team was not a good feeling. So I have been very grateful to the team the whole time for supporting me."

The former world champion beat Santos Tour Down Under winner Tom Jelte Slagter (Blanco Pro Cycling), Arthur Vichot (FDJ), Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r La Mondiale) and the rest of the bunch at the end of the 152 kilometre stage. He was complimentary afterwards to the other riders on the BMC Racing Team for their work.

“The whole team was supporting me well in the end and on the last lap they were riding hard to bring a couple of riders back,” he explained. "Daniel Oss and Manuel Quinziato brought me to the front with 200 meters to go and then Slagter tried to jump me in the end, but I still had a last gear to respond."

The win was his first for the American team, but he hopes to clock up several more this year. His biggest target is to finally win Paris-Roubaix.

Early on, Dimitri Le Boulch (BigMat Auber 93), Rudy Kowalski (Roubaix Lille Métropole) and Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne-Séché) attacked and got a lead of over seven minutes. The bunch monitored this carefully, though, and they were hauled back inside the final thirty minutes of competition.

A number of other moves tried to foil the sprinters’ teams, but these were all reeled in before the end. Hushovd’s team-mates swung into action and set him up perfectly. “They surrounded him well all day,” directeur sportif Fabio Baldato. “When Thor gave them the go-ahead, it was Oss and Quinziatio who really made the difference at the end and put him in a good position on a really hard finish.”

Hushovd knows that it will be a battle to hang onto the race lead tomorrow as it is a much more difficult day in the saddle. “We haven't discussed the plan yet,” said Baldato, “but we know it will be really hard, like a mountain stage. We have a number of options and good climbers here like Mathias Frank, Amaël Moinard and Dominik Nerz.”

One of those who will be seeking take the final overall victory is the Irish pro Nicolas Roche. He was eighth on today’s stage and is in good form, as evidenced by his fifth place overall last week in the Tour of the Mediterranean.

“Today's stage was a bit chaotic as the escapees were caught early and the stage started from scratch with fifty kilometres to go,” he said. “In the finale, I was in a good spot for the sprint but I lost a couple of positions in a corner before the finish line. But tomorrow is another game.

“The stage is long and harder than today and I know the roads pretty well from my junior time where I used to race for the club who is taking part of organizing this race. So hopefully, I'll be at the right spot at the right time tomorrow when we enter the finale.”

Tour du Haut Var (2.1)

Le Cannet des Maures to La Croix Valmer:

1, Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing Team) 152.5 kilometres in 3 hours 42 mins 22 secs
2, Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco Pro Cycling Team)
3, Arthur Vichot (FDJ)
4, Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R La Mondiale)
5, Egoitz Garcia Etxegibel (Cofidis Credit Solutions)
6, Justin Jules (La Pomme Marseille)
7, Julien Simon (Sojasun)
8, Nicolas Roche (Team Saxo-Tinkoff)
9, Vincent Jerome (Europcar)
10, Mathieu Drujon (Big Mat - Auber 93)
11, Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne- Séché Environnement)
12, Alexis Vuillermoz (Sojasun)
13, Dominik Nerz (BMC Racing Team)
14, Maxime Monfort (RadioShack – Leopard)
15, Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R La Mondiale)


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