Thor Hushovd loves to go game hunting when he is at home in Norway, but on the bike, his targets for 2010 include three major goals: a major Spring Classic victory, a third green jersey at the Tour de France and then the world championships in Melbourne.
“I like to go hunting. I shoot everything that moves in the forest. I’ve shot elk, deer and even a moose,” he said at the recent Cervelo Test Team presentation in Portugal.
“On the bike I’m especially aiming for the Classics and Paris-Roubaix is a special big goal, and then the World Championships. I haven’t won a major classics or a world title, so they’re really important.”
“Of course when I line up for the Tour de France in Rotterdam, it will also be really important and I’ll give it 100% to win more stages and another green jersey.”
"[Cavendish] was the fastest but the jersey is not for the fastest sprinter, it’s for the best sprinter, that’s why I won it."
Hushovd is hoping to have three peaks of form to match his goals and will ride the Vuelta to prepare for the world championships.
“I think it’s possible with how I plan my season. I train hard in November, December and January for the Classics, then I’ll have a break and get ready for the Tour de France and do the same in August. I’ll have to give it time to find form and rhythm in the Vuelta but I think its possible to be good again in September.”
"I'm the best sprinter"
In the 2009 Tour de France, Hushovd fought with Mark Cavendish for the green jersey. He could not match the speed of Cavendish, but rode intelligently, picking up points in intermediate sprints by going on the attack.
He has been training intensely with his teammates for the last week but admitted he had read comments coming out of HTC-Columbia and how they plan to stop him scoring points in intermediate sprints on hilly stages.
“I think they tried it (to stop me scoring points) last year but they couldn’t do it,” he said.
“Of course they’ve got to try something different because they saw the points I scored when Cavendish wasn’t there. They said Tony Martin might do that job, so now I have to change my tactic.”
Cavendish still insists he was wrongly disqualified on the stage 14 to Besançon, but Hushovd does not agree.
“I respect Cavendish, he’s a great rider and it was incredible how he won six stages but you also have to respect other people,” Hushovd said.
“But if you watch television you can easily see why he was disqualified. He almost crashed me twice. You only see it once on TV but it happened twice. He closed me twice because he was sprinting with his head turned trying to stop me.”
“He has to sprint fast if he wants to get more points to win the green jersey in 2010. But I was the best sprinter in the Tour de France last year. He was the fastest but the jersey is not for the fastest sprinter, it’s for the best sprinter, that’s why I won it."
Cervelo: doing things the right way
Hushovd celebrated his 32nd birthday on Monday, but insists he not past his peak. He became a father in 2009 and says it has made him a better rider.
“People say becoming a father helps you and I think it’s true. Now when I’m disappointed after a race, when I get home and see my daughter, I forget about the racing. Becoming a father puts everything in perspective” he said.
“I don’t brake more in a sprint. I take more care when I race but when I sprint, I sprint hard.”
Hushovd, Carlos Sastre and Heinrich Haussler are the three leaders at the Cervelo Test Team. The other riders and team staff gravitate to them. They take the central spots in the official team photographs and give off an aura of natural leadership.
Hushovd confirmed he is very happy at Cervelo.
“I had nine great years with Credit Agricole and when I changed I wanted something different. I’m happy and proud to be on this team. It’s growing a lot and has a modern way of thinking,” he said.
“The way the team is run is different because there isn’t a big sponsor who pays the money and demands results. I think this is a unique team. With a lot of other teams the only thing is to win, but with that pressure, a lot of things can happen. When young riders are under too much pressure they may take a short cut, which is not too smart. But with the bosses not putting on the pressure, the riders feel safer. It’s the right thing to do. Winning is not the important thing in life and in modern cycling.”
While other riders are racing all over the world in the early season, Hushovd has opted for a more traditional start to his season. He will debut at the Etoile de Bessèges on February 3 and then ride the Volta ao Algarve, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Tirreno-Adriatico and then the Classics.
“I’ve tried different things in the past. I went to Australia one year and was good afterwards but it all depends how you come out of a race and what you do at home. I think it’s safer to stay in Europe and do your training and race programme. I think it’s best for me.”