Tour de France: Thor Hushovd wins in Arenberg as Fabian Cancellara seizes back yellow
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tour de France: Thor Hushovd wins in Arenberg as Fabian Cancellara seizes back yellow

by Ben Atkins at 11:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Race Reports and Results
Mighty Norse rider shows his cobble class as Spartacus smashes the peloton

Thor HushovdThor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) won the third stage of the Tour de France between Wanze and Arenberg-Porte du Hainaut after outsprinting a very select group. The Norwegian champion beat British champion Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and World champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) after the peloton shattered over the cobbled roads of northern France.

“I know that when Cancellara attacks, you cannot let him get 20 metres because you’ll never see him again,” said Hushovd after the stage. “In think, in the end, he realized that he could ride with the view of getting the yellow jersey back and also to help Andy with his cause. For me, it was up to me to play on what they were doing and make it work to my advantage – and go for the stage win.”

The Norwegian has twice been on the podium of Paris Roubaix, so to win a stage of the Tour de France that ended at the entrance to one of the race’s most famous stretches meant more than most to him. “Every stage win in the Tour is special but this one is bit different,” he said. “We’re here, near the Arenberg and that adds to the prestige a little.”

"My team worked hard without being rewarded yesterday,” he said of the stage that was neutralised by the peloton, “but today I managed to win the stage and it’s a great satisfaction. Yesterday, I did not agree with the decision to cancel the allocation of points, but this morning I said that it is already ancient history, and I totally refocused on the race. I have long noted this stage because I know my strength on the pavé, and I knew I had a chance to be a factor. So, I decided to ’go to war’ for this stage. It’s not always so simple though because even the best plans can come undone in an instant on the cobbles. And you must be fit. Today I had everything.”

The stage victory gives Hushovd the lead in the points competition, a lead that he now plans to hold until the race finish in Paris. “This is a first step for the green jersey,” he confirmed. “I know that for now, I’m glad I did what I did, and I still have the means to defend the jersey for long. My team is very strong, and I feel very fast, so I think I can still win other stages."

The early break got away after just 13km as Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin Transitions) escaped the peloton. The Canadian was quickly joined by Steve Cummings (Team Sky), Pavel Brutt (Katusha), Roger Kluge (Milram), Pierre Rolland (Bbox Bouyges Telecom), Imanol Erviti (Caisse d’’Epargne) and Stephane Augé (Cofidis). The Quick Step led peloton allowed them to build a maximum lead of 4’50” by the 48km mark; this made Hesjedal, whose team suffered so much in yesterday’s stage, the virtual race leader.

The Belgian team decided that it was time for action at this point and reduced the deficit to 3’30” by the 75km point.

As the leaders approached the first, 350m long, sector of cobbles their lead opened up once more to almost 4 minutes. Manoeuvring within the peloton saw a crash at the side of the road; David Le Lay (AG2R-La Mondiale) was forced to abandon. The Sky and RadioShack teams moved forward though, to protect Bradley Wiggins and Lance Armstrong respectively, and the resultant high pace reduced the gap to 2’05” by the time the leaders hit the cobbles.

At just 350m long the Ormegnies sector was never going to cause too many problems and it passed without incident; the race settled down once more and the gap began to rise once more.

As the race approached the second and third sectors at Hollain and Rongy, with 40km to go, the Saxo Bank team decided to take control with Jens Voigt at the head of affairs. As teammate Jakob Fuglsang took over on the cobbles though it seemed as though yesterday’s truce might have been extended, as he seemed to be riding little more than tempo. A split did appear near the back of the field though, with Christohe Moreau (Caisse d’Epargne) one of the riders to be left behind.

Ahead in the break, Hesjedal was obviously the strongest over the cobbles and gapped the others. He was soon pulled back by the rest of the group though, led by Brutt.

On the fourth sector at Sars-et-Rosières, with 27.5km to go, the Cervélo TestTeam moved forward alongside Saxo Bank and the pace increased dramatically. On a slight bend in the road Fränk Schleck came down, breaking his collarbone, but Cancellara was on the front with Andy Schleck on his wheel and no one was waiting for anybody.

As the breakaway group exited the sector they had split to pieces, with Hesjedal off the front alone once more. The Canadian now had a lead of just 30 seconds over a group of five riders, consisting of Cancellara, Andy Schleck, Evans, Thomas and Hushovd. Both Saxo Bank riders were working hard to distance the rest of the field that they had left behind.

Behind the Cancellara group was a larger bunch of riders, which contained a number of favourites including Lance Armstrong. A smaller group containing Alberto Contador (Astana) managed to join the back of this group and, unluckily for the seven-time winner, Armstrong suffered a puncture just at that moment.

Yellow jersey Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) was suffering as bad a day today as he had had a good one yesterday. The Frenchman suffered a series of punctures, forcing him to change his bike on a number of occasions, and with Cancellara near the front of the race he could see his lead slipping away.

The small group containing Contador and Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) was hovering a little under a minute behind though, with Armstrong almost 2 minutes back, led by teammate Yaroslav Popovych. On the final cobbled sector at Haveluy, with just 10km to go, the American left his teammate behind and struck out to catch a large group up the road.

With Cancellara, Andy Schleck and Evans both working hard, the group of five riders managed to catch Hesjedal with just 6.5km to go. The Garmin-Transitions rider managed to latch onto the back of the train though to take the group’s number up to six.

Meanwhile Armstrong had caught up with a group, which also contained a number of sprinters.

Cancellara, Schleck and Evans continued to apply the pressure right to the end to maximise the time over their rivals. The exhausted Hesjedal tried to sprint first, followed by Schleck, but nobody had an answer to the powerful Norwegian once he made his move for the line.

The Contador group was led in by the Spaniard’s team captain Alexandre Vinokourov; the Kazakh didn’t seem to have noticed that Contador had been dropped in the last few hundred metres though, appearing to be suffering from a puncture.

Armstrong’s group came in more than 2 minutes behind Hushovd, with the American losing almost a minute to Contador. On a day that RadioShack had proclaimed its intention to put the Spanish climber under pressure, bad luck had meant that the tables had unexpectedly been turned.

Chavanel came in as part of a small group, 3’58” behind; Cancellara’s work not only benefited his team captain Schleck, but seized back the yellow jersey that he had lost just 24 hours before.

Result stage 3
1. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervélo TestTeam
2. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
4. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions
5. Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
6. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank
7. Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Garmin-Transitions @ 53s
8. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky
9. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) OmegaPharma-Lotto
10. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Astana
11. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank

13. Alberto Contador (Spa) Team Astana @ 1’13”
32. Lance Armstrong (USA) Team RadioShack @ 2’08”
43. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo @ 2’25”
54. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam @ 2’25”

Standings after stage 3
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank
2. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky @ 23s
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team @ 39s
4. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions @ 46s
5. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step @ 1’01”


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