Cervélo TestTeam’s Thor Hushovd tightened his grip on the Tour de France points competition on Wednesday after picking up 17 points for finishing ninth on stage 4.
Hushovd, a two-time winner of the green jersey, took the lead in this year’s competition when he battled to a superb win over the cobbles of Tuesday’s third stage.
On Wednesday the big Norwegian was expected to be in the mix for another victory, which would have added 35 points to his account. But after his heroic efforts on Tuesday, Hushovd said he simply didn’t have the power, and Italian veteran Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) rolled back the years to take his second win of the race.
“Today I just didn’t have the power in the sprint,” said Hushovd. “The first three stages were very nervous and yesterday I put a lot of energy into winning that stage at Arenberg.”
Still, things could be worse. Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) came into the race declaring his green-jersey ambition, having made it to Paris last year with six stage wins under his belt. Yet the self-proclaimed “fastest man on two wheels” may have to revise his goal after yet another day off the podium that left him 65 points adrift of Hushovd in the points competition.
By finishing 12th on Wednesday, Cavendish at least got back in the game. He started the day with one point, and he now has 15.
And he’ll have a couple more chances to score before the Tour spends three days in the Alps beginning Saturday, the first coming on Thursday’s stage to Montargis.
His lead-out man, Mark Renshaw, said the contest isn’t over yet.
“We’ll go away and have a talk about things tonight, but we’ll be back tomorrow and we’ll be looking for the stage win,” said the Australian.