Thor Hushovd: the World’s fastest lead out man
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thor Hushovd: the World’s fastest lead out man

by Ben Atkins at 5:28 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tirreno-Adriatico
World champion speaks about delivering Tyler Farrar to victory

thor hushovdThe sprint finish of the second stage of Tirreno-Adriatico saw the unusual sight of World champion Thor Hushovd leading out Garmin-Cervélo teammate Tyler Farrar. The American sprinter won the stage, taking his third win of the season, and took the race leader’s jersey; the World champion, job done, drifted backwards as the other sprinters tried to get on terms with his teammate.

After the stage Hushovd spoke to about the two riders’ first ever sprint together as teammates.

“He sat there a long time, yes,” said the Norwegian. “I just think he decided to take my wheel, and I was confident that he would go well in the sprint.”

As one of the sport’s most consistent, albeit not the fastest, sprinters for the past decade, Hushovd has been more used to be the rider being led out, not the one leading out someone else.

“It is clear that it was a little unusual,” he admitted. “But now the team has had a win, it is fun and easier to do. I knew I had one of the world's best sprinters behind me, so it was fun to help him to win.

“I was just not confident of victory,” he explained, “when I got there, but I realized that he had a good chance.”

Hushovd and Farrar have now proved that they can work together, and to devastating effect, the World champion agrees that a number of other teams might well be a bit scared of Garmin-Cervélo in the sprints.

“I think [it worries them] enough,” he said. “What we have shown since Qatar [where Heinrich Haussler won two stages and led the race], has already given us respect. The others well know how strong our team is.”

Having been teammates for just over two months, and only having raced together once, at last month’s Omloop Het Nieuwsbald, the two sprinters seem to have developed an understanding inside a very short time.

“I did the job for Tyler to get him in the best position at the end,” said Hushovd. “It was important for us to be ahead there, and we rode a bit tactically at the end. It's a good atmosphere in our team now; especially when everyone is riding as well as they did today.”

To see Hushovd working for another rider, instead of taking the sprint himself, was unusual in itself; to see the rainbow jersey leading out a teammate is almost unheard of. Thus far though, the World champion has only received positive feedback from his competition over the role he has taken at this race.

“I have not been talking so much with the other teams,” he said, “since we mostly ride right to the buses. There were some who commented that I did a good job, and others who were surprised to see me in the World champion’s jersey doing a lead out.”

In tomorrow’s stage Farrar will take the start wearing the pale blue race leader’s jersey; with another mostly flat parcours, and the last one ideally suited to the sprinters, the two Garmin-Cervélo riders might well find themselves in the same position again.

“Yes, I do not know,” said Hushovd. “We must defend the jersey and control the peloton in the morning; It is our responsibility. And it could end with a another sprint towards the end of the stage.”

Whether Hushovd will pull over and allow his American teammate to sprint for the win though, has yet to be decided.

“That, we will have to see…” he said cryptically.

How long Hushovd, the World champion, is to remain happy to lead out Tyler Farrar remains to be seen. With Milano-Sanremo almost immediately following Tirreno-Adriatico though, it may go on a little longer as Farrar represents the best chance yet for an American winner.

With the Norwegian’s stated target for the season in April’s Paris-Roubaix, he may be expecting some big-time cobbled payback very soon.


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