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LA CROIX-VALMER, France (AFP) — Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing) sprinted to victory on Saturday in the first stage of Tour du Haut Var-Matin.
The former world champion won the 152.7km stage from Cannet des Maures to La Croix-Valmer ahead of Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco) and Arthur Vichot (FDJ).
It was the first victory for Hushovd since joining BMC in 2012 — and his first since he won stage 4 of the 2011 Tour of Britain.
“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,” Hushovd said. “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.”
Hushovd will wear the leader’s jersey in Sunday’s second stage, a 207km run around Draguignan.
He said the win was particularly satisfying after a virus and muscle inflammation sidelined him for much of last season.
“This is really big because last year was frustrating and mentally hard,” Hushovd said. “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.”