By Jean-François Quénet in Frascati
One year ago, Thor Hushovd was proud to win stage 3 of the Tour of Catalunya because it was May 17, which is the Norwegian national day. At the start of today's stage five of the Tour of Italy, Hushovd donned socks in his national colours in Teano, the place where captain Garibaldi and King Vittorio Emmanuele II met on October 26, 1860, and agreed on their plan to unify Italy.
The day before, Hushovd tested himself at the bottom of the climb of Montevergine. "I felt pretty good," he said. "I could even have stayed with the good climbers longer but I didn't want to push myself too hard for nothing. I had some hard time at the beginning of the Giro. It was necessary for me to get the rhythm of the competition again. Now I'm ready to go for a stage win."
He was told by former pro rider and now RAI commentator Davide Cassani that the finish of the stage in Frascati was actually the same as last year in Tirreno-Adriatico when Hushovd took second to Paolo Bettini. He knew then that the slightly uphill and curvy finale suited him, which increased his motivation towards the end of the stage. However, the Viking is still chasing his first win this year since Robert Förster passed him in the last twenty meters.
"That was close," Hushovd commented afterwards. "I'm happy to be up there again but I would have liked to win this one. At least I know for sure that I'm back in a winning shape. Hopefully I'll make it next time I'm in a similar situation." It's still unsure whether or not the winner of the prologue of the Tour de France and the last stage on the Champs-Elysées last year will complete this Giro. He's also scheduled for the Dauphiné that starts on June 10 one week after the end of the Italian race.