New Tour de France leader recalls winning in 2001
After a frustrating spring, lady luck is smiling on world champion Thor Hushovd and his Garmin-Cervélo team at the Tour de France.
Hushovd and his teammates held off a late surge by BMC to win the team time trial and their four-second margin was just enough for Hushovd to take the yellow jersey. Teammate David Millar is second overall, at the same time but finished further down the pack during stage one on Saturday. Both riders hold a lead of one second over Cadel Evans (BMC).
“This time luck was on our side. We had one goal and that was to get to the finish line as fast as possible. We worked hard for this and everything worked out perfectly for us,” Hushovd said.
“To win the team time trial is very special. It's stressful and hard, especially when you're in the lead of the train. It's on the limit but today we found a very good rhythm.”
Despite being world champion, Hushovd admitted he felt under pressure to do well in the Tour de France.
“I’ve already won a nice stage in the Tour of Switzerland but there's always the pressure to do something at the Tour,” he said.
“The team wanted a stage win and I wanted it as well. Now we're all rid of the pressure. It's a dream coming through to step on the podium in the rainbow jersey. I'm proud that I can show the jersey in this race. After all this is the biggest race in the world.”
The jersey collector
The Norwegian’s suitcase is packed with different coloured jerseys. He wears the rainbow jersey most of the time but rode the team time trial in the climber’s polka-dot jersey. Philippe Gilbert is leading the competition but was wearing the yellow jersey. Now Hushovd has yellow and will wear it instead of his rainbow jersey. However he said he will not be targeting the green jersey this year.
“Unfortunately that's not my goal in this Tour,” Hushovd said.
The Norwegian is happy to swap his rainbow jersey for the yellow jersey during stage three from Olonne-sur-Mer to Redon. It's the third time in Hushovd's career he managed to lead the Tour de France. “I've had it in 2004, 2006 and now again,” he said.
Hushovd also won the team time trial back in 2001 while riding with the Credit Agricole team and his current Garmin-Cervelo boss Jonathan Vaughters.
Just like 2001
Vaughters attended the post-stage press conference and recalled the 2001 team time trial win.
“I remember it as if it was last week,” he said. “Thor was riding his first Tour de France. Still he was the strongest rider of the team that day. I remember that I was barely managing to cling on to his wheel. I'm no longer on the bike but very proud and happy to get the first ever victory in the Tour de France for the team with him featuring in it."
Hushovd was surprised to hear Vaughters get so emotional.
“Back then I didn't expect him to become a team manager. He's doing a great job though as he's taking care of a lot of people, also taking some hard decisions like he did for this Tour,” Hushovd said.
Hushovd is looking forward to defending the yellow jersey but concedes it won’t be easy against Evans.
“The biggest challenge will be the stage on the Mûr-de-Bretagne on stage four with a hard climb up to the finish. That's going to be critical point in order to keep the jersey. If he attacks there it'll be hard to follow him,” Hushovd admitted.
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