Garmin-Cervélo’s dream run through the Tour de France continued Tuesday with an impressive stage victory by Thor Hushovd in the 162.5km 16th stage into Gap.
Hushovd sprinted to his second stage win of the 2011 Tour while Hesjedal crossed the line third for his best-ever Tour stage result.
Hushovd and Ryder Hesjedal rode into the day’s main breakaway on the rolling stage into the foothills of the Alps. Hejsedal attacked on the day’s main obstacle at a second-category climb with 20km to go to open a promising gap to try to win the stage.
Hushovd sat on the wheel of Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen when he counter-attacked behind Hesjedal. The three roared into the finishing straight, when Hushovd finished off the sprint to claim Garmin-Cervélo’s fourth stage victory during the 2011 Tour.
“The team rode a perfect team tactic today,” Hushovd said. “Ryder had his chance on the final climb and he was going alone. I really thought he had a good chance of winning the stage, then Edvald chased him down and I sat on his wheel. Then I was able to make the sprint to win the stage. A big, big thanks to him for helping me and I am sorry for him that he couldn’t stay up the road to win the stage.”
Hesjedal said he was pleased to fight into the day’s main breakaway and have a shot at winning the stage.
“It took a long time for the breakaway to form today. It was almost like a victory to be in there because everyone was really fighting,” Hejsedal said.
“We rode a perfect race. We wanted to attack on the climb to lose some of the riders in the breakaway. I went hard, but Boasson Hagen came from behind. Thor was strong to be right there, so it was great. I am just glad to be there to help deliver another win for the team.”
Garmin-Cervélo sport director Bingen Fernández said the team wanted at least one of its riders in the break today.
“We wanted to have someone like Ryder, Dave or Christian in the break. Ryder was the one and then Thor was able to bridge across. It was ideal for us to have two in the breakaway, because we could attack the other riders,” Fernández said.
“We are enjoying this success we’re having on this Tour, but it’s an accumulation of the work we’ve done over the years to build the program.”
The team’s strong performance in the stage helped push it back into the lead on the prestigious team classification. It now leads Leopard-Trek by 7:01.
On the GC front, Tom Danielson remained in ninth place overall at 6:04 back. Danielson crossed the line 28th at 5:02 back, losing 18 seconds to some of his main GC rivals when he lost the wheel on the final descent on wet roads.
The 98th Tour continues Wednesday with the first of three stages across the Alps. The 179km 17th stage from Gap climbs five rated climbs and finishes in Pinerolo, Italy.
Danielson is optimistic he can finish in Paris in the top-10.
“I just have to keep doing what I am doing,” Danielson said.
“If that means I can follow the top GC riders, that’s great. If that means that I have to ease back a little and ride at my pace, that’s fine, too. I have good legs, but you never know what will happen in the race. The other day I was feeling good, then I got dehydrated with 5km to go. All I am doing is taking it day by day. I set a new goal each day and that’s the way we’re going to get to Paris.”
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