By Jean-François Quénet
Thor Hushovd entered Tour de France history quietly when he won the team time trial with Crédit Agricole in 2001, but he struggled in 2002 on a German road due to cramping. In the past two editions, he won the green jersey (2005), and the prologue and last stage (2006), but Hushovd really became well known internationally when he won the stage in Quimper, clad in the red and blue cross jersey of Norwegian National champion in 2004.
This might be why Hushovd has decided on another attempt at the National Championships, to be held on July 1 in Brummundal near Hamar where Norway organized the track world championships back in 1993. "I really want to get the jersey again this year," Hushovd said. Last year, he didn't participate because the race was located in the far north of Norway, and it was too complicated to travel only one week before what would be a successful prologue in Strasbourg.
Two years ago, he won the national title for time trial, but he was marked during the road race. This year, the Norwegian championship might be even more interesting, tactically speaking. Beside Hushovd, his teammate from Crédit Agricole, Mads Kaggestad, and CSC's Kurt-Asle Arvesen, a stage winner in the Giro d'Italia will be racing at hom. Also, Edvald Boasson Hagen, 20, a future member of T-Mobile, hails from this part of Norway, 200km north of Oslo, and he'll be helped by Team Maxbo Bianchi captained by Gabriel Rasch, a former Norwegian National champion himself.
"It's not going to be easy," Hushovd warned. He'll take part in the Eindhoven TTT with Crédit Agricole on Sunday before heading back to Norway.