Road

Garmin-Cervelo rallies behind Hushovd to end victory famine

GRINDELWALD, Switzerland (AFP) - Garmin-Cervelo is rallying behind teammate Thor Hushovd as the Norwegian seeks to honro his status as world champion by ending his victory famine at the Tour of Switzerland Tuesday.

2011 Tour de Suisse stage 2 Hushovd
Hushovd on stage 2 Sunday. Photo: Graham Watson

Hushovd, who won the world road race title in Australia last September, started the season with big hopes of honoring his rainbow jersey but failed to live up to expectations in the tough northern classics.

While the brutal climbs on this week’s race will simply give the Norwegian a chance to top up his condition for the Tour de France, he will join the sprint specialists in targeting the 198.4 km fourth stage from Grindelwald to Huttwil.

It is one of only two stages set aside for the non-climbers, and with a slightly uphill finish it should suit Hushovd particularly well.

In any case, the feeling of expectation is palpable at Garmin-Cervelo, whose only other focus this week is on helping American Tom Danielson achieve a top overall finish.

“Thor wants to win a race, in the (rainbow) jersey, and I think he definitely can here,” said American teammate Christian Vande Velde.

Fellow teammate Canadian Ryder Hesjedal suggested Tuesday’s outing could also suit Australian Heinrich Haussler, one of the riders caught up in a brutal crash on the race last year which was blamed on HTC-Highroad’s Mark Cavendish.

“We’ll be helping Thor and Heinrich in the final if we have an opportunity in the sprints,” said Hesjedal.

Among Hushovd’s rivals should be Quick Step’s Tom Boonen, Saxo Bank’s Matti Breschel, Rabobank’s Oscar Freire, Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Cavendish.

Beginning in Grindelwald at the foot of the world famous Jungfrau and Eiger mountains, the fourth stage is undulating all the way and includes a total of three small climbs.

The final ascent, the category 3 Ruppiswil, will be tackled twice, leaving 12km to race towards the finish once the summit is reached the last time.

After finishing over 18 minutes behind stage winner Peter Sagan on Monday, Hushovd said: “I’m feeling OK. Yesterday we were lucky it wasn’t too hard and today was a short stage, and my form is not too bad.

“Tomorrow, we would like to try for the stage win. But it will be a hard stage. We’ll see what happens.”