Norwegian Thor Hushovd (pictured) won the 13th stage on Friday, on the second of three consecutive days in the Pyrenees in the Tour de France. Frenchman Thomas Voeckler retains the race leader's yellow jersey.
AFP - Norwegian Thor Hushovd of Garmin-Cervelo continued his dream Tour de France with victory in the 13th stage from Pau to Lourdes on Friday.
Frenchman Thomas Voeckler, of Europcar, retained the race leader's yellow jersey after arriving with the main peloton and all the favourites seven and a half minutes later.
On the second of three consecutive days in the Pyrenees there were no changes to the overall standings.
Luxembourg's Frank Schleck is second overall at 1min 49sec, Cadel Evans of Australia is third at 2:06 and Andy Schleck is fourth at 2:17.
Spain's three-time and defending champion Alberto Contador is still seventh at four minutes, just behind Italian Ivan Basso in fifth and sixth-placed compatriot Damiano Cunego.
Hushovd, who wore the race leader's yellow jersey for a week, now has nine individual stage wins on the race and becomes the first rider since Spain's Oscar Freire to win a stage as reigning world champion.
Having helped Garmin win the team time trial on stage two, Hushovd secured some personal glory by following up a brave climbing display with a daring descent which allowed him to catch Frenchman Jeremy Roy with 2km to race.
"I felt really emotional coming over the finish line because I didn't imagine I could attack and climb over the Aubisque and then win on my own with the rainbow jersey," said Hushovd.
"It's the most beautiful stage I've won on the Tour de France, for sure."
FDJ rider Roy had come over the summit of the day's only major climb, the Col d'Aubisque, with a 50sec lead on compatriot David Moncoutie and a two-minute lead on Hushovd.
Moncoutie, a strong climber known for his fear of descending, was soon reeled in and despite Hushovd's stronger finish on the flat the pair collaborated in a bid to close the gap.
Criticised for helping Hushovd catch Roy, Moncoutie hit back: "I don't agree. There were still a lot of kilometres to race and it's a stage victory on the Tour de France that's at stake.
"Hushovd is a stronger finisher, but you never know what can happen. He could suffer a puncture in the finale for example."
Moncoutie stopped relaying with 10km to race, and was soon left in Hushovd's wake when the Norwegian caught sight of Roy inside the final 3km and powered past him to go on unchallenged towards the finish line.
Roy, who has been one of the most active breakaway riders of the race, was distraught after finishing third behind Moncoutie at 26secs adrift.
"It's too hard to take. I think I will have a lot of trouble digesting this," said Roy, who picked up the consolation of the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey.
"I had great legs on the climb, unfortunately I got caught on the descent. I'm not a big champion, so I do what I can with what I've got."
Asked whether the polka dot jersey was a consolation, Roy replied: "The polka dot jersey wasn't even in my plans, but a stage win was.
"I didn't miss it by much but all that matters is victory."
Hushovd had scant sympathy for Roy.
"It's a shame for him. He rode a good stage, but I really wanted to win a stage on my own wearing the rainbow jersey," he said.
Saturday's 168.5 km 14th stage features a total of six climbs, finishing with the 15.8 km ascent to Plateau de Beille.
Having managed to defend his lead when the more authentic overall contenders failed to shake him on Friday at Luz Ardiden, Voeckler is resigned to losing the yellow jersey.
"The team have worked really hard helping me in recent days, so I expect fatigue to kick in at some point," said the former French champion.
"It was already hard to keep it on Luz Ardiden, but it will be even harder on the way to Plateau de Beille."
Date created : 2011-07-15