Hushovd beats Bennati in Murcia for Vuelta win.

Hushovd: three Vuelta wins.

A funny stage. Not funny in that ha-ha way just odd.

A flat sprinter’s finish but a category two climb, the Alto de la Cresta del Gallo, thrown in just 17k from the line. For laughs or misery or just to watch sprinters freak. Put another way, no Mark Cavendish, no Tyler Farrar, no Alessandro Petacchi. They just weren’t in the mood or felt like a break.

This was a muscle climb made for guys like Daniele Bennati (Liquigas-Doimo), Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha) or even red jersey man Phil (as his teammates call him) Gilbert of the Omega Drugs & Gambling squad.

The winner was Garmin’s newest hard-man, Norwegian Thor Hushovd, who seems to always be good for a stage win in the grand tours, having won stage three of the tour on the cobblestones and today notching his third Vuelta win.

While the victory appeared as quick and easy as changing his team, Hushovd worked hard for the win. “It was not as simple as it looked though. I suffered a lot on the climb but then my teammates Cuesta and Florencio did a good job before the finish. I got on Bennati’s wheel and won the sprint quite easily.”

Garmin’s Jonathan Vaughters said just the other day that Farrar and Hushovd were two different kinds of riders and expected no conflicts in agenda. It certainly was the case today on the 151k stage that ran from Caravaca de Cruz to Murcia.

“It was a hard day but I’m feeling good on the climbs and getting better and better, so I still had something left for the sprint. A stage like this is perfect for me,” Hushovd said.

(Cage fight side question: Hushovd, Farrar and Robbie Hunter versus Cavendish, Mark Renshaw and Bernard Eisel? I say the Garmin boys beat the living crap out of HTC-Columbia.)

Americano update: as far as we know, fingers crossed, Christian Vande Velde still upright, Tom Danielson still feeling good with no sudden mysterious illnesses and Tejay Van Garderen still in 6th place overall and feeling no pressure.

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