Hushovd Wins Stage 4 of Tour
Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) has won Stage 4 of the Tour de France. Norway's thunder god pipped Robert Hunter (Barloworld) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank) to take the rolling, 193-km ride from Villers-Cotterets to Joigny in 4:37:47. Fabian Cancellara (CSC) remains the yellow jersey.
The stage was ridden under overcast skies. After a slow beginning, Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Gorka Verduga (Euskaltel), Christian Knees (Milram), and Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) sallied off of the front. The quintet led the field by 3:30 at 53 km and 3:50 at 62 km. When the escapees' lead reached 4:00, however, CSC began to up the tempo.
Gradually, the fugitives' lead shrank. It was 2:25 at 115 km and 1:41 at 160 km. At 169 km, Knees attacked his companions, but they reeled him in. The gap was under one minute.
With 8.4 km remaining, Knees had another go, and only Flecha could stay with him. The peloton, however, which was led by CSC and Lampre, was bearing down on the pair. The avalanche engulfed them with 6.5 km left.
T-Mobile, Gerolsteiner, Credit Agricole, Quick Step, and Predictor battled unsuccessfully for control of the peloton. Many solo sallies were made. Hushovd waited behind leadout man Julian Dean, who attacked with 450 m left. With 150 m remaining, the Norwegian attacked and held off Hunter for the win. The victory was a relief to Hushovd, who scored his last victory in the final stage of the 2006 Tour and who has battled illness and injury this season.
In the overall, Cancellara leads Hushovd by 0:29 and Andreas Kloden (Astana) by 0:33. Stage 5 could change this state of affairs. The 182.5-km ride from Chablis to Autun will feature eight categorized climbs, including the Category 3 Cote de la Croix de la Liberation, the summit of which is eight km from the finish. Escapees or classics riders are most likely to win the day. Who will win? Will the yellow jersey remain on Cancellara's back? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!