Le Tour: Second win for Thor Hushovd

Stage 16: Second stage win for Thor Hushovd while Cadel Evans & Alberto Contador gain time on Schleck 

In what many regard as one of the best stages of this year’s race, Thor Hushovd outsprinted Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen to win stage 16 but in a real surprise, both Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans went on the attack and took time out of both of the Schleck brothers.

As ever, the stage began with riders to create a break but unusually this far into the Tour, it was a long long time before a break was finally allowed its freedom. David Millar was just one of many riders seen trying to go off the front and it was halfway when a break did finally get some space between itself and the peloton.

Sky had two riders in it but that did not stop them lining out the peloton and splitting it in places as they chased it down. It was after 100 kilometres had passed under the riders wheels that finally, a group of a dozen or so riders did manage to escape and there with the rainbow bands was Hushovd along with Boasson Hagen. With the bunch happy to let the break have its freedom for a while, the gap went out to six minutes and more but while the riders in the break such as Russian Ignatiev and Hushovd’s teammate Hesjedal were having their own battles to win the stage, it was the one in the peloton  that was getting rather tasty.

On the slopes of the stage’s big climb near the end of the stage, Col de Manse (2nd cat), Contador went on the attack and kicked off an explosion of action. While Boasson Hagen got in on some action of his own at the front chasing Hesjedal, a small group formed with Contador and the Spanish Tour winner  wasn’t happy with that and attacked again and this time it was Aussie Cadel Evans who had the sharpest reactions and chased him down.

So, what happens next; well, Contador continues to go again and this time, it had the desired effect as the yellow jersey was distanced and Andy Schleck also cracked as Contador, Evans and Sanchez gave it full gas well behind the leaders of the race and the rest of the break which was now fragmented. Hesjedal was caught by his teammate and Boasson Hagen and while these three rode hard for the stage with Hushovd having little problem beating the rapid Boasson Hagen,  the flames in the action behind were still burning brightly as Evans managed to gain a few more seconds on Contador and a whole lot more on the Schlecks.

One of the Brits who had a power of work to do was Ben Swift who said on Twitter later, “That was great. Good fun that stage. Few more stages like that and we will be in Paris in no time” while Cadel Evans was a man of few words saying on Twitter “Today was…..kinda tough…. 48.2km/h for ~2h: Thor is a ‘hardman’! #TdF” Geraint Thomas meanwhile said on Twitter “Great racing today, that’s what it’s all about!! And cracking ride again from Eddie!!”

Mark Cavendish though who did a fantastic ride to finish 43rd on the stage with a 2nd category climb at the end, said later on twitter, “Wow, fast stage. Tried to stay with the front on final climb but just lost contact. Might shut up some people. Again, great ride by Thor. So the hotel room tonight is so small, we can’t separate the beds. As if poor Bernie Eisel hasn’t spent enough time with me this #TdF!

Geraint Thomas “I knew I was going well coming into the race but I never really expected to be racing at the front for the best part of two weeks, most of the stages really. I thought I could get up there on a couple of days and do my bit for the team at the team time trial but I’ve just been delighted with how it’s all gone for me and hopefully that can continue right through this week now.” In breaking news today, Thomas confirmed that he has signed a new three year deal with Team Sky.

Sean Yates, Team Sky Sports Director: “The team covered every move and it took a long, long time for that break to go so there was a lot of work involved. An earlier break went away but that contained Arnold Jeannesson from FDJ which we had to close down to defend the white jersey for Rigoberto. Everyone got stuck in and it was a great, great team effort. Once again Edvald was up against Thor Hushovd who is in superb form and also had a teammate with him which made it a big ask for Edvald to win the stage. But it was a super performance from Edvald – he worked so hard right from the start to get in the break and then saw it all the way through to the end, it was a great effort.”

“Geraint did a fantastic amount of work. He’s flying and to be there on that climb playing it cool with Rigoberto was great to see. I can’t praise the boys highly enough today.”

Previous Stages
STAGE 1 | STAGE 2 | STAGE 3 | STAGE 4 |  STAGE 5 | STAGE 6 | STAGE 7 | STAGE 8 | STAGE 9 | STAGE 10 |
| STAGE 11 | STAGE 12 | STAGE 13 | STAGE 14 | STAGE 15 |

Stage 16
1     Thor Hushovd, Team Garmin-Cervelo     3:31:38
2     Edvald Boasson Hagen, Sky Procycling
3     Ryder Hesjedal, Team Garmin-Cervelo      :02
4     Tony Martin, HTC-Highroad      :38
5     Mikhail Ignatyev, Katusha Team      :52
6     Alan Perez Lezaun, Euskaltel-Euskadi      1:25
7     Jérémy Roy, FDJ
8     Marco Marcato, Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team      1:55
9     Dries Devenyns, Quickstep Cycling Team
10     Andriy Grivko, Pro Team Astana      1:58

Other Key Riders
11.     Cadel Evans, BMC Racing Team      4:23
12.     Alberto Contador, Saxo Bank Sungard      4:26
13.     Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi
15.     Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma-Lotto      4:44
18.     Thomas Voeckler, Team Europcar
20.     Rigoberto Uran, Sky Procycling
22 .    Fränk Schleck, Leopard Trek
28.    Thomas Danielson, Team Garmin-Cervelo      5:02
30.     Ivan Basso, Liquigas-Cannondale      5:17
33.     Geraint Thomas, Sky Procycling      5:17
36.     Andy Schleck, Leopard Trek      5:32
43.     Mark Cavendish, HTC-Highroad      6:48
105.   David Millar Team Garmin-Cervelo 14.02
134.   Ben Swift (GBr) Sky Procycling 15.06

1 .    Thomas Voeckler, Team Europcar     69:00:56
2.     Cadel Evans, BMC Racing Team      1:45
3.     Fränk Schleck, Leopard Trek      1:49
4.     Andy Schleck, Leopard Trek      3:03
5.     Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi      3:26
6 .    Alberto Contador, Saxo Bank Sungard      3:42
7.     Ivan Basso, Liquigas-Cannondale      3:49
8.     Damiano Cunego, Lampre – ISD      4:01
9.     Thomas Danielson, Team Garmin-Cervelo      6:04
10.     Rigoberto Uran, Sky Procycling      7:55

22.     Nicolas Roche, AG2R La Mondiale     0:14:59
29.     Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma-Lotto     0:20:50
30.     Christian Vande Velde,Team Garmin-Cervelo     0:21:39
40. Geraint Thomas  Sky Procycling     @36.00
58. Edvald Boasson Hagen  Sky Procycling @58:39
60. David Millar  Team Garmin-Cervelo     @1:04:48
124. Mark Cavendish HTC-Highroad     @2:00:38
131. Ben Swift  Sky Procycling     @2:05:01

Points classification

1     Mark Cavendish, HTC-Highroad     319      pts
2     Jose Joaquin Rojas, Movistar Team     285
3     Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma-Lotto     250
4     Thor Hushovd, Team Garmin-Cervelo     235
5     André Greipel, Omega Pharma-Lotto     170

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