By Andrew Hood
Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) powered to his second consecutive victory Tuesday to conserve his lead at the 88th Volta a Catalunya in Spain.
A winner of Monday’s opening prologue, Hushovd out-kicked Bernard Eisel (High Road) to sprint to victory in the 167.8km stage from Riudellots de la Selva to Banyoles. Hushovd widened his grip on the overall leader’s jersey to second-place George Hincapie (High Road) by 10 seconds thanks to a finish-line bonus.
An early four-man move tore away in the hilly first half of the stage, with Dario Cioni (Silence-Lotto), Freddy Bichot (FDJeux), Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and José Carrasco (Andalucia-Caja Sur) only neutralized in the final 5km of the stage.
High Road led in the peloton, with Michael Barry and Michael Rogers taking pulls to try to set up Eisel, but Hushovd made easy work of his Austrian rival to win for the fifth time this season.
The 88th Volta continues Wednesday with the 191.9km second stage from Banyoles to La Seu d’Urgell. The bumpy profile includes two category-1 climbs in the opening half of the stage followed by the beyond-category Alto de Pedraforca at 120km. That’s followed by another category-two climb and another unrated climb before a sinuous descent ahead of the short climbing finish into La Sea d’Urgell.