Hushovd rides into green jersey in Tour de France

Photo © Tim de Waele

Photo © Tim de Waele

July 11: Cervélo TestTeam’s Thor Hushovd used his racing savvy and strong legs to move into the lead in the green points jersey competition in Saturday’s climbing stage across the Pyrénées at the Tour de France.

Hushovd attacked over the day’s first major hurdle at the first-category Port d’Envalira in the opening hour of racing in the 176.5km eighth stage from Andorra to Saint-Girons and dropped points rival Mark Cavendish.

The big Norwegian then zoomed down the harrowing descent to set himself up for two intermediate sprints, the first at 67km and the second at 84.5km. He won both, earning 12 points, and bounced into the green jersey for the first time this Tour.

“That was the plan and the goal for today. I knew that first climb was really hard. I felt strong yesterday and I attacked just over the top and I was able to get those points,” Hushovd said after the podium ceremony. “I knew I had to fight on that climb. I did a good descent and I could get those points. It was important to me.”

It was a relatively routine day for team captain Carlos Sastre, who crossed the line 35th at 1:54 back along with all the top favorites. There were no major changes in the overall standings, though he slipped from 15th to 16th when a rider from a breakaway gained time, but remains 2:52 behind race leader Rinaldo Nocentini.

Four riders stayed clear to finish 1:54 of the Sastre group, with Spanish rider Luís León Sánchez taking the stage victory.

Hushovd is rare for a sprinter because he can climb fairly well. Never well enough to stay with the lean mountain goats like teammate Carlos Sastre, but well enough to sneak into breakaways and win uphill sprints.

Cervélo TestTeam enjoyed a rest day Monday in Limoges as the Tour de France took a breather at its halfway point.

The squad is satisfied with its performance in the first half of the 2009 Tour, which included a stage victory and the green jersey for sprinter ace Thor Hushovd and smart riding by defending Tour champ Carlos Sastre to keep his options open in the overall classification.


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