Thor Hushovd Blasts to Stage 16 Victory as Cadel Evans Reduces Thomas Voeckler's Overall Tour de France Lead

News & Results

07/19/2011| 0 comments
by AP and Roadcycling.com
Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen leads Thor Hushovd. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen leads Thor Hushovd. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Thor Hushovd Blasts to Stage 16 Victory as Cadel Evans Reduces Thomas Voeckler's Overall Tour de France Lead

Alberto Contador caught most of his rivals napping with a brash climbing attack to reduce his deficit to Tour de France leader Thomas Voeckler in today's Stage 16 - won by Norwegian God of Thunder - and now God of the Tour - Thor Hushovd.

Alberto Contador caught most of his rivals napping with a brash climbing attack to reduce his deficit to Tour de France leader Thomas Voeckler in today's Stage 16 - won by Norwegian God of Thunder - and now God of the Tour - Thor Hushovd.

The Spanish defending champion mustered a characteristic burst of speed out of the pack in the final climb of the rainy 162.5-kilometer (101-mile) course from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Gap - and among the other big title contenders, only Team BMC Racing's Cadel Evans of Australia could keep up.

Riding on his brand new Cervélo S5 bike 32-year-old Hushovd won his second stage this Tour de France by outpacing fellow Norwegian Edvald Boassen Hagen of Team Sky in second and Hushovd's Canadian Garmin-Cervélo teammate Ryder Hesjedal in third. Interestingly Hesjedal has Norwegian ancestors.

Hushovd, who has long been known as a sprinter, showed off his new talents when he won Stage 13 over a big climb in the Pyrenees. This time, he displayed a puncher's ability to break away on a more rolling course.

The Norwegian has been one of the stars of this race. He also held the yellow jersey for six days early in the race, after the Garmin-Cervelo team won the team time trial in Stage 2.

"I have succeeded a lot at the Tour de France," Hushovd said and added "To win another stage is very good."

Contador and two-time Tour runner-up Evans gained time on Voeckler, who retained the yellow jersey, while two-time runner-up Andy Schleck of Luxembourg was among the day's big losers - crossing the finish back of the other favorites.

"I was able to save it," Voeckler said of the yellow jersey, which he expects to lose before the race ends Sunday in Paris. "I kept it by a handful of seconds, but that shows that I've hit my ceiling."

Ten breakaway riders pressed the pace through most of the stage, though by the finish that group had thinned to the two Norwegian riders and Hesjedal.

As the pack prepared to scale the mid-grade Col de Manse climb, with about 15 kilometers left in the stage, Contador sped out of the front of the pack in a string of attacks to gain about 20 seconds on most favorites.

Only two-time Tour de France runner-up and GC contender Cadel Evans kept up.

While the 9.5-kilometer climb was not well-suited for Contador to gain time on his rivals, the signal from the three-time champion was obvious: Don't forget about me.

The attack also did more than that. Contador finished 18 seconds ahead of Voeckler to reduce his deficit to the Frenchman to 3 minutes, 42 seconds. But perhaps more importantly, the Spaniard also gained time on his two-time runner-up, Schleck.

Evans finished 4:23 back in 11th place - but crossed first among the major title contenders. Contador was close on the Australian's heels, trailing 3 seconds later, in 12th.

"I wasn't expecting to gain so much on the climb," Evans told Roadcycling.com and our mobile cycling news site Roadcycling.mobi and added "I was

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