ToC Stage 3: Hushovd wins it in a sprint

Sprinters get their turn at ToC, but it isn't Cav's day

by Tony Farrelly   February 18, 2009  

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Thor Hushovd used a perfect leadout from his Cervelo Test Team to propel himself to victory in yesterday's stage of the Tour of California. Hushovd's win did not affect the overall standings of the race and Levi Leipheimer remains in the lead with his teamate, Lance Armstrong back in fourth.

Leipheimer did not have a quiet day in the peloton though because an early crash, which he put down to momentary inattention, saw a hurried swap of bikes with one of his domestiques and the Astana riders then working to pull their race-leader back into the safety of the main bunch.

The stage had been billed as one for the sprinters but early on it looked like it might follow what seemed to be the devloping pattern for the race: wind, rain and and early escape caught late on with varying degrees of success. Today's break went very early – just over 7KM out from the start Brad White (OUCH-Maxxis) jumped away befor the first climb and was eventually joined by Bauke Mollema (Rabobank), Brian Vandborg (Liquigas), Jeff Louder (BMC Racing). At one point the quartet had five and a half minutes on the chasing pack, but the sprinter's teams were not going to be denied again and determinedly chased the escapers down to set up a final sprint.

Mark Cavendish's Columbia High Road team were conspicuous in those efforts, but the British sprinter got separated from his lead out man in the final kilmometre and could only manage fifth place. Hushovd's team by comparison provided a textbook example of how to do it providing him with a three man train which got him into position perfectly – his lead out man, Brett Lancaster came in sixth just behind Cavendish.

Top 10 ToC Stage 3
1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervélo TestTeam 4.28.12 (37.3601 km/h)
2 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
3 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Team Columbia - Highroad
4 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream
5 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - Highroad
6 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Cervélo TestTeam
7 Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Colavita / Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light
8 Freddy Rodriguez (USA) Rock Racing
9 Markus Zberg (Swi) BMC Racing Team
10 Pedro Horrillo (Spa) Rabobank

Top 10 ToC General Classification after Stage 3
1 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 13.51.14
2 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia - Highroad 0.24
3 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Slipstream 0.28
4 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 0.30
5 Christopher Horner (USA) Astana 0.34
6 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana 0.38
7 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia - Highroad
8 José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Astana
9 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas
10 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0.39