Thor Hushovd wins in the Rainbow Jersey!
Thor Hushovd was lucky enough to be a smart bike racer as well as a strong one. Most bike riders have one or the other, for example Thomas Voeckler is an extremely smart rider, but not as strong as some of the other pros. When you have a combination of both it is devastating for their opponents and makes them very tough to beat. Thor Hushovd was also an extremely versatile rider, he has won races in Time Trials, solo in road races, and also bunch sprints. He has won 10 stages of the tour as well as winning the sprinters jersey in 2005 and 2009 and wearing the yellow jersey on 2 occasions in 2006 and 2011. He won 1 stage in the Giro d'italia as well as 3 in the Vuelta. Doing this puts him in the very top echelon of professional riders in the history of the sport by winning a stage in each of the three grand tours. Hushovd was also a solid rider of the cobbles and finished 2nd in the king of them all, Paris Roubaix, in 2010. In 2010, he also won the sprint finish for the rainbow jersey in Geelong, Australia and he would have this on his shoulders for the next year, and it is at one of those races we jump to now.
It was stage 13 of the Tour de France 2011, and Thor was in the Rainbow Jersey. Todays stage was known as the Queen Stage and Thor was certainly not listed as a favorite to win today. Nonetheless, an early break formed with the likes of Jeremy Roy, Jerome Pineau, and Edvald Boasson Hagen to name a few. Because Thor was such a heavy rider at 79kg, the peloton allowed him to stay away in the bunch. The group worked together nicely, starting the big climb of the day, the Col d'Aubisque wiith a 6 minute advantage on the peloton.
This is where the action begun, as soon as Thor hit the slopes he made an attack. This was evidence of Thor being a smart rider. He knew he was too heavy to keep up with the climbers on the steeper part of the climb, so he was trying to get a head start on them before they reached the tough gradients. Thor knew the stage finished on a flat section as well and this wasn't a mountain finish. Hushovd liked his chances for the win today.
He kept on with his tempo pace, eventually the two climbers Jeremy Roy and David Moncoutie passed him. Thor being a seasoned professional knew not to try and hold their pace and sit on their wheel. He maintained his same tempo until the top and eventually crested the top a decent gap of 2 minutes to the leader. Thor was an extraordinary descender as well, and put everything on the line to try and pull back the advantage of 2 minutes. Unbelievably, Thor managed to drop Moncoutie on the flat run in to the finish putting on display the immense amount of power he has. Hushovd caught Roy with precisely 2.2km to go. You would normally expect a sprinter, with only that small amount of time left to go would sit in and wait for the finish, but Thor was not taking that. He didn't even slow down for him and sped straight around Roy, giving him no chance at all of staying in his slipstream. It was this moment as Roy disappeared into the distance that his dreams were dashed, and Thors were being made.
Thor solo'd in for his win in the Tour of 2010, on the queen stage and in the Rainbow Jersey. At the end of the stage, Thor said after the stage this was his most beautiful win in the Tour so far, and I agree. Don't forget to watch in the video below!