x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

World champion Hushovd fulfils his yellow jersey dream

The world champion took over the Tour de France jersey from Belgium's Philippe Gilbert as the Garmin-Cervelo team triumphed for the first time on the race's second stage.

Garmin rider Thor Hushovd, left, leads his teammates during the team time trial on the second stage of the Tour yesterday.
Garmin rider Thor Hushovd, left, leads his teammates during the team time trial on the second stage of the Tour yesterday.

LES ESSARTS, FRANCE // Thor Hushovd, the world champion, took over the Tour de France yellow jersey from Belgium's Philippe Gilbert as the Garmin-Cervelo team triumphed for the first time on the race's second stage yesterday.

Hushovd said his Garmin team, one of the favourites for the 23km team time trial, did "what we had to do" by setting a winning time of 24min 48secs for the punishing event to beat the BMC team of Cadel Evans into second place by four seconds.

Britain's Team Sky, who had been poised to put Geraint Thomas, their Welsh rider, into the race lead, finished third just behind BMC, also at four seconds.

Hushovd, who had finished third at six seconds 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 his Scottish teammate, David Millar, with Australia's Evans in third place.

Thomas, who had been Sky's highest placed rider on Saturday, is fourth overall at four seconds with Germany's Linus Gerdemann of the Leopard-Trek team fifth.

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 Jonathan Vaughters, the team manager, 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 yellow jersey three previous times in his 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 the Garmin riders breathed a sigh of relief -followed by huge cheers at their team bus - when the British team came over the finish line.

The HTC-Highroad team of yellow jersey contender Tony Martin of Germany lost their Austrian rider Bernhard Eisel to a crash early on in the proceedings, 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 TeamSky.

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

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

Crucially, he is now respectively 1:41 and 1:38 behind Evans and Andy Schleck, his main rivals for his title, ahead of todays' 198-km third stage.

Stage 3, Dubai Sports