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World champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) won Friday’s 13th stage of the 2011 Tour de France in solo breakaway after outracing the remaining members of an early breakaway.
Hushovd dropped Jeremy Roy and David Moncoutie in the final 3km for the win.
IIt was the 33-year-old Hushovd’s ninth career Tour stage win; he is the first world champion to take a stage since Spain’s Oscar Freire in 2002.
“I felt really emotional coming over the finish line because I didn’t imagine I could attack and climb over the Aubisque and then win on my own with the rainbow jersey,” said Hushovd.
“It’s the most beautiful stage I’ve won on the Tour de France, for sure.”
The yellow jersey group containing most of the GC favorites finished 7:37 behind Hushovd; Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) will wear the yellow jersey for the fifth consecutive day on Saturday.
Early (and late) breakaway
Roy had initiated an early break that eventually involved 10 riders, including Hushovd. The other break members: Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), David Moncoutie (Cofidis), Vladimir Gusev (Katusha), Dmitriy Fofonov, (Astana), Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre), Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank ), Lars Bak (HTC), Jérôme Pineau (Quick Step).
The group hit the d’Aubisque with a six-minute gap and Hushovd charged into the climb looking to get a head start on the ascent. Moncoutie and Roy led the chase while the other break members faded. Roy and Moncoutie passed Hushovd. Roy came over the top of the huge, foggy climb 45 seconds ahead of Moncoutie and two minutes ahead of Hushovd.
Moncoutie and Hushovd came together on the descent, but had their hands full chasing Roy, a noted descender.
When the descent flattened out for the 13km flat to the finish, Moncoutie could not pull through to help Hushovd and it became an individual pursuit between Roy and Hushovd. Hushovd pulled Moncoutie to within 10 seconds of Roy with 4k to go, then dropped Moncoutie to finally catch and blow past Roy with 2.2km to go.
From there Hushovd looked fresh as he wound through the twisty roads of Lourdes for a remarkable solo win by the world champion.
Roy was distraught at the finish.
“It’s too hard to take. I think I will have a lot of trouble digesting this,” said Roy, who picked up the consolation of the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey.
“I had great legs on the climb, unfortunately I got caught on the descent. I’m not a big champion, so I do what I can with what I’ve got.”
Asked whether the polka dot jersey was a consolation, Roy replied: “The polka dot jersey wasn’t even in my plans, but a stage win was.
“I didn’t miss it by much but all that matters is victory.”
Saturday’s stage 14 is the toughest day in the Pyrenees, with six major climbs, almost 16,000 feet (4,800 meters) of elevation gain and a finish atop the 16km-long Plateau de Beille that has several 10-percent pitches in its opening half.
Voeckler said he expects to lose the yellow jersey.
“The team have worked really hard helping me in recent days, so I expect fatigue to kick in at some point,” said the former French champion.
“It was already hard to keep it on Luz Ardiden, but it will be even harder on the way to Plateau de Beille.”
- 1. Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo)
- 2. David Moncouti (Cofidis)
- 3. Jeremy Roy (FdJ)
- 1. Thomas Voeckler, Team Europcar, in 55h 49′ 57″
- 2. Frank Schleck, Team Leopard-Trek, at 1:49
- 3. Cadel Evans, Bmc Racing Team, at 02:06
- 4. Andy Schleck, Team Leopard-Trek, at 02:17
- 5. Ivan Basso, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 03:16