Team Garmin-Cervelo Blasts to Team Time Trial Victory in Tour de France 2011
Team Garmin-Cervelo blasts to team time trial victory in Tour de France 2011; Norwegian God of Thunder Thor Hushovd takes yellow jersey and overall Tour de France lead.
Thor Hushovd of Norway captured the overall lead in the Tour de France 2011 earlier this afternoon after the Garmin-Cervelo team won the team time trial in the second stage of the race.
Hushovd took the yellow jersey from Philippe Gilbert of Belgium, the winner of Saturday's opening stage, as defending champion Alberto Contador lost more time to his main rivals.
World champion Hushovd seized the coveted yellow shirt for the third time of his career ahead of his teammate David Millar, with whom he shares the same time in the overall standings. Cadel Evans of Australia stands third, just one second behind.
The Garmin-Cervelo team finished in 24 minutes, 48 seconds around the 23-kilometer (14.3-mile) flat stage in Les Essarts in the Vendee region of western France, at an average speed of 55.645 kilometers per hour.
It was Garmin-Cervelo's first stage win on the Tour after the American-registered outfit finished second in the 2009 team time trial.
The Garmin-Cervelo team, one of the most powerful in the race against the clock, looked well drilled from the start and produced an impressive display to win a very close contest as five teams finished within five seconds.
"This is an extraordinary dream, I'm very proud, I'm very happy to take the jersey and that the team won the stage," Hushovd said after crossing the finish line in front. "This is a great day, we did a really good team effort, everything worked perfectly."
Garmin riders celebrated their win by lifting their manager Jonathan Vaughters on their shoulders at the podium ceremony.
"It was really hard work," Millar said after the stage and continued "We did the best we could. We didn't hide it was a main goal for us and we worked hard for this. We know each other well, it's a big advantage. I was constantly above my limits, as were my teammates."
Vaughters and Hushovd were part of the Credit Agricole team which won the 2001 Tour team time trial.
"I would love to keep this jersey on my shoulders for as long as possible," Hushovd said. "I know it will be hard in stage four when we go up to Mur de Bretagne. If a rider like Cadel Evans is attacking me, it will be hard to stay on his wheel."
Vaughters, a former teammate of Lance Armstrong, has developed a strong time trial culture within his team.
"They didn't make any mistakes," Vaughters said and added "They did everything perfectly. I knew we were going to go fast."
On the short and mainly flat course, Contador's Saxo-Bank team posted a time of 25:16. The three-time Tour champion had already lost more than one minute to his rivals during the first stage after being slowed down by a crash and now stands 75th, 1:42 behind Hushovd.
Former pro cyclist and French idol Laurent Jalabert, who now works as commentator and analyst for French national television concludes that Alberto Contador is definitely the big loser of the day. no matter how much Saxo Bank-SunGard team owner Bjarne Riis and Contador himself try to convince the media and fans of the opposite in statements made after the team time trial finish.
Evans' BMC team finished second, fours seconds adrift, with British team Sky ending third with the same time.
A two-time Tour runner-up, Evans now leads Contador by 1:41, but the former world champion downplayed the importance of the margin after just two days of racing.
"There's a long way to Paris," Evans said. "With a guy like Alberto, he's such an all-rounder. If you want to beat him, you have to take time everywhere you can on him. In two days, it's been successful, but it's early days yet."
Evans said he wasn't surprised at all with the great result by his BMC Racing team. "We've been quietly working away, doing our homework and keeping at it," the former world road champion said. "Our first goal was not to lose any time and our second goal was to actually gain time. The fact that we were actually there, nearly in the running for the win, was really something."
Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins was very satisfied with his team's performance "We gained more time on some of the GC guys and it's been a fantastic start to this year's Tour, in complete contrast to last year. Edvald (Boasson Hagen) has shown today that he has the legs. Geraint (Thomas) you could see was hungry for it. That is the only slight tinge of disappointment that he didn't get the leader's jersey because he really deserved it."
Contador and his Saxo Bank teammates had the disadvantage to set off first in the stage and raced without any reference point to set their pace.
Many fans and riders have questioned Contador's presence after his positive test for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour. The Spaniard, who denied any wrongdoing, could be stripped of all his titles back to last July if the Court of Arbitration for Sport rules against him next month.
After receiving jeers at the official team presentation earlier this week, Contador was again booed during the team time trial.
"The past year has been difficult for me," Contador told French TV after the stage. "I would like the whole process to be over. It's very hard for me, my family and my friends. The wait for a decision is difficult, but I'm really optimistic."
Team RadioShack rode a disappointing team time trial today and the team's GC favorite Levi Leipheimer found the team time trial to be very short. "That was over fast! it is a bit of a disappointment for us, but it could have been worse I suppose. We are a team of diesels, so we started too slow unfortunately."
"I'm a little bit disappointed, but the team has given the maximum. The boys did a great job. Congrats to Thor Hushovd on his yellow jersey," Team RadioShack's Andreas Klöden commented after the stage.
Click here for complete stage 2 results.