Tour de France 2020

Happy Hushovd can now look forward to Tour

HUTTWIL, Switzerland (AFP) - Norwegian Thor Hushovd admitted his focus will now be firmly on the Tour de France after ending his long wait to claim a first victory in the world champion's rainbow jersey.

2011 Amgen Tour of California stage 2 gallery by Brad Kaminski
Hushovd. Photo: Brad Kaminski

HUTTWIL, Switzerland (AFP) – Norwegian Thor Hushovd admitted his focus will now be firmly on the Tour de France after ending his long wait to claim a first victory in the world champion’s rainbow jersey.

The ‘curse of the rainbow jersey’ has struck many cycling champions in the past but Hushovd’s predecessor, Australian Cadel Evans, raised the bar somewhat in 2010 after winning the world title at the end of 2009.

Having suffered beneath the weight of expectation in recent months, the big Norwegian finally got his 2011 off to a winning start with a narrow victory over Slovakian Peter Sagan of Liquigas in the Tour of Switzerland’s fourth stage on Tuesday.

“That was incredible,” a delighted Hushovd told AFP moments after coming over the uphill finish line, where he was congratulated by riders from several teams.

At the post-race press conference, Garmin-Cervelo’s one-day race specialist tried to put his mixed season into perspective.

“I really went for big goals, as usual, in the classics but this year I wasn’t as strong as I could have been and I didn’t achieve my objectives,” he said.

“Of course, when you go for big goals it’s a bigger frustration when you don’t achieve them.”

Despite claiming he had put no pressure on himself to win because of his status as world champion, Hushovd admitted: “The cameras are on you and people expect things of you.

“And previous world champions have honored the rainbow jersey by winning a lot of races, so naturally you want to do the same.

“You always feel like you have to win and show this jersey in a respectful way. I always try to give my best. Still, my head has been really focused and I think we saw that today.”

With less than three weeks before the Tour de France, victory on a tough uphill finish — which Hushovd favours — could not have come at a better time.

Although he has twice won the Tour’s green jersey for the points competition, in 2005 and 2009, Hushovd said he will leave that task to teammate Tyler Farrar as he looks to add to his eight stages in the world’s biggest bike race.

“This is the perfect time for me to get this victory, a few weeks before the Tour de France. It gives me extra motivation,” he added.

“I don’t know what the team’s big goals are, but normally the green jersey is (an objective) for Farrar. I would like to win a nice sprint, I might have two, three or four chances in the race on the more challenging stages.”

Until July, Hushovd will surely be poring over the details on the stages which suit him most.

And he admits that simply showing up wearing the rainbow stripes at the start line in Noirmoutier in the west of France is already getting him excited.

“I’m proud to wear this jersey every day in training and in races, so to go to the Tour with the world champion’s jersey is a big dream and something I’m looking forward to,” he added.

“In training recently I’ve been feeling really strong. I know from previous years that if I do my job and stay calm I will do well in the Tour.

“Mentally, I really didn’t need this victory. But now that I have it, I can really start to focus on the Tour de France.”

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