LE TOUR: Hushovd Hangs onto Yellow in the Mountains

Geraint Thomas finishes with leaders on the first mountain stage of 2011 Tour de France, Millar drops to 9th overall
It was a day for the climbers and Britain’s Geraint Thomas bounced back from the dissapointments of the day before to finish with the races leaders after his team, Sky Procycling went on the attack. Thomas on Twitter said “Really enjoyed today!! We went on the attack, didn’t quite come off, but tomorrow is another day!! Hope it’s still raining”

Now back home in the UK, Bradley Wiggins remained philosophical about his situation but warned his rivals he plans on returning to action as soon as possible. On the crash that put him out of the race, he admitted: “It’s one of those things. It comes with the territory of the Tour de France, constantly seeing crashes, especially in that first week. And actually, up until then, I’d been pretty lucky in avoiding most of the big ones. So it was unfortunate that one got me and put me out of the race.

“Life goes on. There are lot of other people with a lot worse problems than a broken collarbone. You have to consider yourself lucky and try to take the positives from it. It will get better. I’ll be on my bike within a week. There’s always the end of the season and we’ll be into the winter months and before you know it everyone will be talking about next year’s Tour de France.” With eight strong riders still left at the Tour, Wiggins insisted his team-mates are poised to continue what had been a superb start to the Tour.

He added: “They’ll be fine. Obviously we won a stage with Edvald. Geraint’s in fantastic form, and he’s been sacrificing his race at the moment for myself and Edvald, but I’m sure he’s capable on his day of winning a stage. “It’s unfortunate that he’s the best lead out man in the world, so he gets roped into doing that job all the time, because he’s in the form of his life and could a win a stage on his own in the right situation. As for everyone else, they’ll have to reset their sights. I’m sure they’ll get something more out of the race.”

Team Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha said afterwards “I was happy with the way things went today, and especially with the attitude of the team. Right from the start everyone was active and trying to get in the break. Xabi [Zandio] was the first one to get there and then there were some attacks on the second-category climb before the finish. I was feeling good and had already told the guys as much so I just sat in the wheel and followed the moves until mine stuck. I’m pleased with the way it went and the way I was able to perform.”

“The attitude of everybody is the main thing I’ll take from this stage though. It was hard last night after what had happened with Bradley but I think we responded well today and we will be looking to keep our spirits high now for the rest of the Tour. We are hitting the Massif Central tomorrow and our approach will be the same again – to get involved, represent the team well, and of course have some fun.”

Sean Yates, Team Sky Sports Director: “The plan today was to show our colours and I think we did that pretty well. Yesterday was a hard one for the boys but it’s not the end of the Tour for them so today was about getting back on track. We’ve refocused on different goals now because these guys are all world-class riders and they’ve got the chance to impress.  We had Zandio in the initial break and then soon after Flecha jumped over to them with Vinokorov, who had his eye on the yellow jersey. Astana had worked hard to close the gap before those two attacked, and in the end it was a quite exciting finale.”

“The pace was pretty hectic and it was a tough battle at the end. Rigoberto was up there in that first chase group, which was good, and it is still possible he could ride a good GC because there are a lot of mountains still to climb. He went down heavily in the crash with Bradley yesterday and found it hard going early on, but as the stage wore on his condition improved and he was able to battle through.”

Meanwhile, Mark Cavendish and Ben Swift finished in the grupetto along with the other sprints, 19 minutes behind the winner.

Previous Stages
STAGE 1 | STAGE 2 | STAGE 3 | STAGE 4 |  STAGE 5 | STAGE 6 | STAGE 7 |

Result – Stage 5

Stage 8
1.     Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa,  Movistar Team     4:36:46
2.     Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma-Lotto     0:00:12
3.     Cadel Evans, BMC Racing Team     0:00:15
4.     Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi
5.     Peter Velits, HTC-Highroad
6.     Dries Devenyns, Quickstep Cycling Team
7.     Damiano Cunego, Lampre – ISD
8.     Alberto Contador, Saxo Bank Sungard
9.     Andy Schleck, Leopard Trek
10.     Fränk Schleck, Leopard Trek

23.     Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling @st
26.    David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo @26 secs
170.     Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad
180.     Ben Swift (GBr) Sky Procycling

1. Thor Hushovd, Team Garmin-Cervelo 33:06:28
2. Cadel Evans, BMC Racing Team @:01
3. Fränk Schleck, Leopard Trek     0:00:04
4. Andreas Klöden, Team RadioShack @:10
5. Jakob Fuglsang, Leopard Trek  @ 12
6. Andy Schleck, Leopard Trek
7. Tony Martin, HTC-Highroad     @:13
8. Peter Velits, HTC-Highroad
9. David Millar, Team Garmin-Cervelo     @:19
10. Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma-Lotto

35. Geraint Thomas, Sky Procycling @3:18
113. Mark Cavendish, HTC-Highroad @25:50
118. Ben Swift, Sky Procycling @26:40

Points (Green Jersey)
1. Philippe Gilbert,  Omega Pharma-Lotto     187     pts
2. Jose Joaquin Rojas, Movistar Team     172
3. Mark Cavendish, HTC-Highroad     153
4. Thor Hushovd, Garmin-Cervelo     130

Young Rider (White Jersey)
1. Robert Gesink, Rabobank Cycling Team 33:07:56
2. Rein Taaramae, Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne @59
3. Arnold Jeannesson, FDJ @1:20
4. Rob Ruijgh, Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team @1:42
5. Geraint Thomas, Sky Procycling     @1:50

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