World Champion Thor Hushovd Brings Great Thunder to Pyrenees Winning Stage 13 of Tour de France 2011
Team Garmin-Cervelo's Norwegian God of Thunder Thor Hushovd won the 13th stage of the 2011 Tour de France and France's Thomas Voeckler kept the yellow jersey Friday on a ride through the Pyrenees that ended in the city of Lourdes - the home of one of the most famous Catholic shrines.
Hushovd said. "I knew I had to. It was super."
Hushovd had caught Moncoutie (Team Cofidis) with about 15 miles remaining, and they took turns trying to close the gap on Roy, who led by 70 seconds with 12 miles to go. That was cut to 18 seconds with six miles remaining, and Hushovd caught him with a mile left.
Roy's previous best in the Tour remains asecond-place stage finish in 2008.
"The disappointment is too big. It will be hard to take in," Roy said. "It's too hard for me. Only victory counts."
Hushovd sympathized, but not too much.
"It's a shame for Roy -- he is young, he rode a very good stage," Hushovd said. "But I really wanted to win, too."
Hushovd had worn the yellow jersey earlier in the race after team time trial in the second stage. Voeckler has worn it since taking it from him on the crash-marred ninth stage. Voeckler was quick to praise Hushovd, who has also won stages on the Giro d'Italia and Spanish Vuelta a Espana.
"Thor is the best climber among the sprinters," Voeckler said. "I'm not surprised by his performance."
Hushovd is surprising even himself with his strong climbing.
"I gave it all during the first week. I suffered yesterday but today I had stamina," he said. "I lost weight (this season), that's true. And I'm working differently. I'm riding a lot of climbs at training."
Germany's Andreas Kloeden, struggling with a stiff back and sore elbow, quit the race, reducing the battered RadioShack team to five riders.
Saturday's 14th stage is the third consecutive day in the Pyrenees, and the most grueling yet. The 105-mile ride from Saint-Gaudens to Plateau de Beille starts with a sharp climb up Col de Portet d'Aspet followed by two ascents up Col de la Core and Col d'Agnes. It finishes with a nearly 10-mile climb to Plateau de Beille.
"It's a long climb," Evans said of the 16 km ascent that has hosted four finishes - all stages won by future Tour de France winners. "It's not as long of a day, but it is a hard day. It's going to be a pretty important day for sure. One of the key important days, as well as a couple of others in the Alps."
Pure sprinters always suffer in the tough mountain stages and tomorrow's hard stage will be a difficult trial for them. Team Movistar's sprinter Jose Joaquin Rojas again today complained about sprinter Mark Cavendish being towed up the climbs of this year's Tour by his team cars and teammates and asks for a camera to follow Cavendish in tomorrow's difficult stage to reveal and prove the cheating. If what Rojas claims is true it is very disrespectful behavior of Cavendish - especially since he is wearing the green jersey as leader of the Tour de France points classification. The Tour organizer A.S.O. should strike down hard on such cheating.
A flat stage follows on Sunday before the Tour de France's second rest day on Monday.