Green jersey hopeful Thor Hushovd looked furious after crossing the finish line of the Tour de France's second stage from Brussels to Spa. Likely to lose his temper and use too-strong words in front of the media, he had to go inside his team bus and cool down before talking to the press about the race jury's decision to neutralise the points classification for the day.
After a large portion of the peloton crashed on a slippery descent of the Col du Stockeu, race director Jean-François Pescheux and chief commissaire Francisco Cenere agreed with Fabian Cancellara, the leader of a rider protest, that the rest of the stage order would not count for the points classification. The peloton slowed down before crossing the finishing line and stage winner Sylvain Chavanel was the only rider allocated points for the finish.
That decision pushed Chavanel into the lead of the points classification, taking away a prime opportunity from sprinters like Thor Hushovd and Robbie McEwen to gain an advantage over foes like Mark Cavendish and Tyler Farrar who had been dropped from the main peloton.
It wasn't until two hours after the stage finish when Hushovd finally gave his opinion to Cyclingnews and his frame of mind was no different than his post-race anger: "What happened is not normal," Hushovd said on the phone. "I'm very sorry for the riders who crashed. It was a big mess. But yet, this is still a bike race. Crashes happen all the time. It's been a really big mistake from ASO and the UCI commissaires to agree to neutralise the end of the stage. The Tour de France is a big, big race. Things like that shouldn't happen."
"Why should Cancellara decide?," the Norwegian questioned. "He's a rider like us." Hushovd and the Cervélo team were one of the few to not accept the decision of the yellow jersey to wait for some injured riders and then to prevent the sprint for second place from being contested. Jeremy Hunt chased behind Chavanel for a while.
"I've been riding all day for the stage win and the green jersey and I end up with nothing," Hushovd continued. "This is not fair. Will the same thing happen tomorrow? Will the times for GC be taken before the pavés sections? If Alberto Contador or another big rider crashes tomorrow on the cobblestones, he's entitled to ask for the race to be neutralised too! So when will we race, really?"
With Chavanel in the yellow jersey, stage 1 winner Alessandro Petacchi will continue to wear his mismatched green outfit as runner-up in the classification. Omega Pharma-Lotto's Jurgen Roelandts remains in third, while Hushovd is fifth.
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