Long breaks through mountainous terrain are becoming a speciality for Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam). Last year he earned vital points in his green jersey battle with Mark Cavendish with a long escape through the Alps on the stage to Le Grand Bornand.
Earlier in this race he gained some more useful points when he got in the early escape on the road to St Jean de Maurienne, and he was at it again on stage 12 to Mende, where the 10 points he earned at two intermediate sprints gave him an advantage of six over Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini).
"It was a good move today," said the Norwegian champion. "My legs felt good this morning but I was also feeling a bit angry after the stage yesterday because it wasn't a clean sprint."
The Cervélo rider admitted he may try the same tactic again on the stages still to come, and insisted breaks through the mountains are very much part of his make-up as a rider. "I don't think I'm a true sprinter like Cavendish. I think I more of an all-round rider, someone who rides well on all kinds of terrain, and I think that's why I won the green jersey last year. I think I can win it the same way this year but we're a long way from that yet."
Although he refuses to count Cavendish out of the battle for the points title, his focus is very much on Petacchi. "If we all get through the Pyrenees it will be interesting. But I'm thinking more about Petacchi than Cavendish, because there's only a few points between us and he's extremely fast in the sprints and can get over the small climbs. He's the one rider I'm really afraid of now."