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Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre - Farnese Vini) narrowed the points deficit to green jersey holder Thor Hushovd.
Norwegian must remain vigilant in every sprint
Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) maintained his lead in the points competition of the Tour de France but there's a renewed threat in the form of Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini). The veteran Italian had ruled out the option of riding for the green jersey after his second stage win in Reims but has now taken up the challenge.
"Yesterday I didn't pay enough attention to Hushovd," Petacchi said after stage 10 to Gap. "He entered a breakaway and gained precious points. Today I didn't repeat the same mistake. I feel good, so it's my duty to try and fight for the green jersey. I want to look for results in the coming sprints, if there is any, we'll see if things go well. Anyway, there'll be a fight until Paris."
It's now clear that Petacchi is motivated to ride the whole Tour de France. He won't cross the Alps just to go back home, as he did in 2003 after winning four stages. He won the first intermediate sprint over Hushovd and Robbie McEwen (Katusha) after 19.5km of racing in La Buissière. Petacchi also finished ahead of the Norwegian for 10th place in Gap where Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) won the bunch sprint.
Following the incidents of the first week and Hushovd's win in Arenberg on the cobblestones stage, it looked like a formality for the Norwegian to keep his green jersey until Paris for the third time in his career. But now he has to count the points on a daily basis.
"Today was a horrible day," said Hushovd. "The course was hard and the heat made it twice as hard. These aren't conditions for a Scandinavian! I suffer a lot. I guess it's the same for everybody.
"I'm going to try and win another stage, that would be the best way to secure the green jersey. I think tomorrow it's gonna be a bunch sprint. If so, I'll try to sprint as well as I can. The intermediate sprints are very important, too."