Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Thunder God proves why he is also the God of the Mountains with stage win in Gap

In the freezing rain, the peloton started out from St Paul Trois Châteaux headed for Gap. As they rolled along the road, thunder rolled in the skies above. It could have been a sign. Many tried to make a breakaway, but failed. Finally a breakaway emerged. Within it, Thor Hushovd. Looking strong as they accumulated a significant time gap, speculation began over the likelihood of success for the big Norwegian.

Speculation turned into certainty as the Garmin-Cervelo rider launched his final sprint off the back wheel of his team mate Ryder Hesjedal to take the line, making it a Norwegian 1-2 as Sky rider Boassan Hagen sailed to the line behind him.

Meanwhile back in the peloton Evans and Contador took a huge chunk out of Voecker's GC lead at the expense of the Brothers Schleck as the infamous 39 second gap came back to haunt Andy in an eerie sense of deja vu. Finishing the stage over a minute down on Evans and Contador, the Spaniard now lies just 39 seconds down from Andy in the GC.

With the toughest of the alpine climbs yet to come, Contador has dealt a massive psychological blow to the Luxembourg pair who until now were supremely confident in their approach. Voeckler however maintains his days in yellow are numbered, despite Lance Armstrong commenting at the weekend that he may take it all the way to Paris.

Elsewhere Cavendish and Rojas appeared to call a truce today in the Green Jersey competition with no one contesting the intermediate sprint. Riding into Gap alone, Cavendish arrived just a minute down on Andy Schleck showing his improvement as a climber.

Tomorrow the race enjoys a brief sojourn into Italy as the peloton travels 179km from Gap to Pinerolo for stage 17. Having got a taste for alpine success with his ride today, Evans will be on the lookout to make his position stronger. With just four intense days to go, the fireworks will be laid tomorrow ready to be ignited on the Galibier on stage 18.

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