Thor Hushovd took his second consecutive victory in the Volta a Catalunya on Tuesday, storming to a sprint victory ahead of Team High Road's Bernhard Eisel and Leonardo Duque (Cofidis). The Crédit Agricole rider questioned his ability to hold the overall lead after winning the opening prologue, but was able to get over the mid-stage category one ascent of the Alt dels Angels and then soar to the sprint win.
The 167.8 kilometre stage from Riudellots de la Selva to Banyoles began with 173 riders after Lampre's Christian Murro withdrew because of stomach problems. On the first climb, the category two Alt de Santa Pelaia, four riders broke clear: Dario Cioni (Silence-Lotto), Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) and José Luis Carrasco (Andalucía - Cajasur).
After Cioni took the points atop the climb with Txurruka and Bichot behind, the quartet extended their lead out to a maximum of five minutes by the next category three climb, where Txurruka crossed first ahead of Cioni and Carrasco. Behind them, the Crédit Agricole team came to the fore and, with Team High Road, began steadily eating away at the four riders' advantage.
As the race headed up the Alt dels Angels, a 480m category one ascent, the lead was down to 3'15" when Cioni, Txurruka and Carrasco crossed the top in that order. Lucas Euser (Slipstream) attacked the peloton to take fifth on the climb.
The leaders managed to hold on to contest the two intermediate sprints - both won by Bichot - before being reeled back in on the final circuit as the peloton prepared for the bunch sprint. Hushovd powered to the line to snatch his second win of the race ahead of Eisel and Duque.