Tour de France

Hushovd claims TDF lead

2011-07-03 18:18
Thor Hushovd (AP)

Les Essarts - World champion Thor Hushovd took over the Tour de France yellow jersey from Belgian Philippe Gilbert as Garmin-Cervelo triumphed for the first time on the race's second stage on Sunday.

Hushovd's Garmin team, one of the favourites for the 23km team time trial, set a winning time of 24min 48sec for the punishing event to beat the BMC team of Australia's Cadel Evans into second place by 4sec.

British outfit Team Sky, who had been poised to put Welshman Geraint Thomas into the race lead, finished third just behind BMC, also at 4sec.

Hushovd, who had finished third at 6sec behind Gilbert on the opening stage, pulls on the race leader's jersey by virtue of being his team's best placed rider on Saturday.

In the overall standings the Norwegian has the same time as Scottish team-mate David Millar, with Evans in third place at 01sec.

Thomas, who had been Sky's highest placed rider on Saturday, is fourth overall at 4sec with Germany's Linus Gerdemann of Leopard-Trek fifth at 10. Thomas kept the white jersey for the race's best placed rider aged 25 and under.

While the Omega-Pharma team stuck to the form book, finishing well out of contention and failing to keep Gilbert in the yellow jersey, Garmin celebrated as a team on the podium where they hoisted team manager Jonathan Vaughters into the air.

It is the first victory of any kind on the race for Garmin, who merged with Hushovd's former team Cervelo at the start of the season.

"It was a big dream of mine to pull on the yellow jersey as world champion, so you can imagine how happy I feel," said Hushovd, who has worn the race's coveted jersey three previous times in his rich career.

"It's our first win as a team, but you can't forget that I was part of the Credit Agricole team that won the team time trial in 2001.

"We trained hard for this event and spoke a lot before it about what we had to do, and what to avoid."

Garmin had been ninth from the 22 teams to set off from Les Essarts, and with a number of big rivals still to finish it was a nervous wait.

Team Sky were a big threat, and when they finished four seconds adrift Garmin breathed a sigh of relief - followed by huge cheers at their team bus - when the British outfit came over the finish line.

The HTC-Highroad team of yellow jersey contender Tony Martin of Germany lost Austrian Bernhard Eisel to a crash early on, but they had a commendable ride finishing only five seconds behind Garmin.

BMC came even closer, Evans taking big turns at the front throughout the mainly flat course before leading his team over the finish slightly quicker than Sky.

Despite missing out on the yellow jersey, Evans will be glad with his result especially in the light of reigning champion Alberto Contador losing more time on the stage.

Spain's Contador, who lost 1min 14sec to his rivals due to a crash on Saturday, dropped further down the overall standings to 75th at 1:42 behind Hushovd after his Saxo Bank team could only finish eighth at 28sec behind Garmin.

Crucially, he is now respectively 1:41 and 1:38 behind Evans and Andy Schleck, both of whom share the past four runner-up places in the race.

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