By Brecht Decaluwé in Saint-Brieuc
Besides Tour de France legends Lance Armstrong and Robbie McEwen, no man has won more stages in the Tour de France since 2000 than Thor Hushovd. With his six victories the Crédit Agricole rider now equals Tom Boonen in this statistic. For some reason it does seem like the 'bear from Grimstad' receives less media attention for his achievements in the Tour de France than Belgian glamour boy 'Tommeke' Boonen. Maybe this is because the winner of the green jersey in 2005 isn't the type of rider who shows up joking all the time, nor is he someone who's always looking for extra publicity.
In that sense Hushovd is a typical Scandinavian, and in Brittany the understated Norwegian found the ideal setting for the stage victory in the bunch sprint to Saint-Brieuc. Hushovd noted the strong winds and the rain showers that tortured the peloton in the West of France, and certainly pleased the local organizers and fans when he said, "I love Brittany. It reminds me of Norway."
The sixth stage victory for Hushovd was captured after a tumultuous and fast finale. The final kilometre in Saint-Brieuc was slightly downhill, with a ultimate uphill kink starting at about 300 metres from the finish line. Despite an attack from time trialist Fabian Cancellara under the red flag of the last kilometre, Hushovd remained cool and gambled that the peloton would bring the strong Swiss back. "When Cancellara went away you know it's always dangerous. I told Renshaw not to panic. With 450 metres to go we went. It was a perfect lead-out for me," Hushovd described the last kilometre.
The late catch of the last breakaway rider, Sylvain Chavanel, which wasn't made until just before the one kilometre to go banner, and a strong wind made the run-in dangerous, and several riders crashed as a result. "It was really hard, with the wind in the finale and in the climbs, but I knew it was a sprint that suited me well," Hushovd explained about the rollercoaster-like last kilometres. "My team-mates did a good job again, and especially Mark Renshaw. He was awesome and delivered me with 200 metres to go and then it was just up to me to do a sprint. Today everything worked out 100 percent," Hushovd said.
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