Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hushovd Gets 1st Win of the Year

It was a return to normalcy yesterday in the Tour de France as Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) won stage 4 in a mass bunch sprint.  For the first time in this Tour, the stage ended with the riders all together along wide, flat roads and with no crashes to disrupt anyone's chances.  The day's breakaway was caught with plenty of time before the finish line, allowing everyone to get organized.  In the final 500 meters, while other big name sprinters like Tom Boonen and Robbie McEwen were washed away, Hushovd managed to follow the wheel of his leadout man Julian Dean, who set him up perfectly with 200 meters left.  From there, the Norwegian powered away to beat Robbie Hunter and Oscar Freire. 

It was Hushovd's first victory this year, a surprising fact considering the quality finishing speed that he posseses.  The 2006 Tour de France prologue winner and winner of the final stage on the Champs d'Elysees did have two second place finishes at the Giro d'Italia this year, but had not yet been able to make the breakthrough.  Hopefully this stage, because it was a sprint du jour, will do a lot to boost his confidence and return him to his winning ways.

Fabian Cancellara held onto the maillot jaune without any difficulties on the stage.  Hushovd, due to his time bonuses, moved up to 2nd place and is now 29" behind Cancellara.


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