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Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) arrives at the finish after attacking solo over some big climbs earlier in the stage to scoop up intermediate sprint points.
Sprint leader strong on Tour de France mountain stage
Norwegian sprinter Thor Hushovd went on a solo attack in one of the Tour de France's toughest stages on Wednesday in the Alpine mountains near Le Grand-Bornand. He gained points towards the green jersey at two intermediate sprints and a measure of respect, after his confrontation with Mark Cavendish in Saturday's stage 14 finish.
"Now the people think that maybe I deserve it, after the disqualification of Cavendish," Thor Hushovd told Cyclingnews.
The race commission relegated Cavendish to the back of the main group Saturday in Tour de France stage 14 to Besançon. It made its ruling after a protest of "irregular sprinting" from rival Thor Hushovd. The decision meant that instead of Cavendish gaining one point on Hushovd he lost 13.
Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) gained 12 points yesterday thanks to his solo attack on stage 17. He went clear of the main group on the first climb up the Cormet de Roselend, caught and passed the lead escape group on the descent, and remained solo over the Col des Saisies and Cote d'Arâches climbs.
"I think I had my best day on my bike ever. I enjoyed every second on my bike today."
Hushovd said his attack was not inspired by Cavendish's comments on Monday's rest day in Verbier. Cavendish said he told Hushovd, "You've won the green jersey now but that's always going to have a stain on it."
"That's not true because he said that was behind us. He told me 'no problem' before the stage," said Hushovd.
He still agrees with Saturday's regulation of Cavendish. "It was me who made the decision and then the judges, I think that says enough."
In the final 300 metres of the sprint, Hushovd tried to pass between Cavendish and the right-hand barriers. The barriers edged further onto the road, closing the gap and leaving Hushovd no space.
Hushovd leads the green jersey competition by 30 points over Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) and 104 points over Spaniard José Joaquín Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne).
Sunday's final stage in Paris is the only stage remaining that is suited to the sprinters. Hushovd said he is ready to put the controversy behind him and looks forward to the Tour's traditional finish on the Champs Élysées.