Thor Hushovd of Garmin Cervelo got an improbable win in Stage 13 of the Tour de France in Lourdes this afternoon on a day when the parcours included one of the Pyrenee's most fabled climbs, the Col d'Aubisque. The Norwegian caught and passed serial escapee Jeremy Roy of FDJ with a little over 2km to go. Cofidis rider David Moncoutié also passed Roy to finish second. The trio had slipped into a breakaway early on in the 152.5 kilometre stage from Pau, with the GC group content to let them go ahead of what should be a big day tomorrow for those vying for the overall victory. Thomas Voeckler of Europcar retains the overall lead.
It was a cruel result for Roy, who had also got into yesterday's break and won the €5,000 Souvenir Jacques Goddet for being the first rider over the Tourmalet, just ahead of Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, although the pair were caught 7 kilometres from the summit finish at Luz-Ardiden.
Despite his efforts 24 hours earlier, the Frenchman was on the attack again this afternoon, presumably with an eye on further boosting his bank balance through the €20,000 up for grabs for the most combative rider throughout the Tour as a whole.
Today’s breakaway group had a curious composition, with Roy joined by three men more likely to be seen at the sharp end of a sprint stage, Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen – who signalled his intentions in a video posted on Geraint Thomas's website this morning - fellow Norwegian Hushovd, and perhaps most surprisingly of all Lampre-ISD’s Alessandro Petacchi.
Also in the break were two men more readily associated with this type of terrain, Quick Step’s Jerome Pineau, long-time wearer of the polka dot jersey in last year’s race, and Moncoutié, three times a winner of the mountains classification in the Vuelta.
Rabobank’s Maarten Tjallingii, Dmitriy Fofonov of Astana, Katusha’s Vladimir Gusev and HTC-Highroad’s Lars Bak made up the remainder of the eight-man group, and it was Boasson Hagen who picked up the maximum 20 points at the afternoon’s intermediate sprint.
Meanwhile, back in the peloton it was Movistar’s Jose Jouaquin Rojas who pipped Mark Cavendish to the line as their tussle for the green jersey continues, the Spaniard picking up 5 points, the Manxman having to settle for 4.
Rojas got another 4 points for finishing 12th and now lies 13 points behind the HTC-Highroad rider, with Omega Pharma Lotto's Philippe Gilbert another 11 points back in third.
On the lower slopes of the Aubisque, Hushovd, who had spent the opening week of the race in the maillot jaune but since Sunday has been back in the rainbow jersey of world champion, attacked off the front of the escape group.
Shortly afterwards Roy bridged across and soon dropped the Garmin-Cervelo rider, who was also passed by Moncoutié as the road wound up towards the mist-shrouded 1,709 metre summit, which the FDJ man rode over first to take the polka dot jersey from yesterday’s Stage winner, Samuel Sanchez.
Roy began the 42.5km descent, which included a slight kick up to the summit of the Col du Soulor, with a 53 second advantage on Moncoutié and 8 minutes on the main group, where Europcar were controlling the situation at the front on behalf of Voeckler, with none of the GC contenders making a move on the climb.
Tomorrow should be a rather more explosive affair in the fight for the overall victory, however, with a summit finish on the Plateau de Beille, where the three previous stage winners - Marco Pantani in 1998, Lance Armstrong in 2002 and Alberto Contador in 2007 –all went on to wear the maillot jaune on the Champs-Elysées podium.
On the way down off the mountain, Hushovd used his descending skills to get back to Moncoutié, the pair initially working together to slowly reel in Roy, but then easing off temporarily once Roy was in sight, with the Cofidis rider happy to let the Norwegian do the work.
That let Roy build a bit more of an advantage, but with a little more than 2 kilometres to ride, Hushovd put the hammer down to leave Moncoutié behind and almost immediately ride past the flagging FDJ rider on his way to winning what is only the second ever stage finish in Lourdes - the other winner was the great Gino Bartali.
Such was the world champion’s margin over his rivals that he had the opportunity to savour the cheers from the crowd as he became the first man to wear the rainbow jersey to a Tour de France stage victory since Oscar Freire did so in 2002.
Back in the main group, world number one Gilbert launched himself off the peloton as the race headed downhill, continuing an impressive Tour de France for the Belgian who started the day as a surprising 12th in the overall standings and now lies 9th, only 35 seconds behind defending champion Alberto Contador.
RadioShack’s dismal Tour de France continued today with Andreas Kloden becoming the fourth of the team’s riders to abandon the race.
Tour de France Stage 13 Result
1 HUSHOVD Thor GARMIN - CERVELO 3h 47' 36" 2 MONCOUTIE David COFIDIS + 00' 10" 3 ROY Jérémy FDJ + 00' 26" 4 BAK Lars HTC - HIGHROAD + 05' 00" 5 PINEAU Jérôme QUICK STEP + 05' 02" 6 HAGEN Edvald Boasson SKY PROCYCLING + 05' 03" 7 GUSEV Vladimir KATUSHA + 05' 08" 8 PETACCHI Alessandro LAMPRE - ISD + 05' 16" 9 TJALLINGII Maarten RABOBANK + 05' 16" 10 GILBERT Philippe OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO + 06' 48" 11 MOLLEMA Bauke RABOBANK + 06' 51" 12 ROJAS Jose Joaquin MOVISTAR + 07' 37" 13 GALLOPIN Tony COFIDIS + 07' 37" 14 BOLE Grega LAMPRE - ISD + 07' 37" 15 VANENDERT Jelle OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO + 07' 37" 16 MONFORT Maxime LEOPARD-TREK + 07' 37" 17 VOECKLER Thomas EUROPCAR + 07' 37" 18 MEERSMAN Gianni FDJ + 07' 37" 19 SCHLECK Andy LEOPARD-TREK + 07' 37" 20 ROLLAND Pierre EUROPCAR + 07' 37" Tour de France Overall Standings after Stage 13 1 VOECKLER Thomas EUROPCAR 55h 49' 57" 2 SCHLECK Frank LEOPARD-TREK + 01' 49" 3 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING + 02' 06" 4 SCHLECK Andy LEOPARD-TREK + 02' 17" 5 BASSO Ivan LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE + 03' 16" 6 CUNEGO Damiano LAMPRE - ISD + 03' 22" 7 CONTADOR Alberto SAXO BANK SUNGARD + 04' 00" 8 SANCHEZ Samuel EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI + 04' 11" 9 GILBERT Philippe OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO + 04' 35" 10 DANIELSON Tom GARMIN - CERVELO + 04' 35"
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.