While his BMC teammates Tejay Van Garderen and Taylor Phinney were at the forefront of Paris-Nice on its early stages, former world champion Thor Hushovd has been rather discreet at the event until now. The Norwegian showed a good performance on stage one, the 9.4km time trial last Sunday, where he finished in 14th postion, 17 seconds down on winner Gustav Larsson (Vacansoleil-DCM). But on Monday, Hushovd was a victim of the echelons like many others and was not in the mix for the sprint for stage victory in Orléans.
But Hushovd was adamant that the week still included other sprint possibilities, for example Tuesday's uphill finish in Le Lac de Vassivière or Friday's run to Sisteron.
"Stage three might be an uphill finish, but it still could be a sprint. And Sisteron [stage six - ed.] is also possible,' he told L'Equipe. The ascent to Le Lac de Vassivière has an average gradient of 3.9 percent, on a total of five kilometres with a false flat on another four kilometres introducing the climb beforehand. On paper, this is a perfect platform for strong sprinters such as Hushovd to emerge.
"I'm here to find race rhythm, to get ready for Milano-Sanremo. But of course, I also want to win a stage," added the Norwegian. "Paris-Nice is a very special race. At the same time, everybody knows what to expect, as it's the same parcours every year."
As to his rivals, he pointed at stage two winner Tom Boonen. "He's already very sharp."