Good news that the Norwegian in the rainbow jersey finally got this first win. In stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse, Thor Hushovd earned his first win and teammate Johan Summeren didn’t even have to pull over and let him past.
Hushovd beat Slovakian Peter Sagan of Liquigas and that is no small task. Sagan is scary talented and so versatile that if you’re near a finish line with him, you will lose with depressing regularity. Sprints, uphill finishes, even medium mountain stages, Sagan is massive and deadly.
But back to the world champion Hushovd. He’s excited about heading into the Tour de France and you’d have to say, things are looking up for the classy Hushovd who took out a fantastic win on the cobblestones in stage three of the 2010 Tour.
The role-sharing at Garmin-Cervelo been a delicate and difficult and generally disappointing experience for Hushovd. He has said in the media that he questions team priorities and race strategies and nothing was more excruciating that sitting on Cancellara’s wheel at Paris-Roubiax while up ahead a cobblestone domestique took the big win. Imagine if you had trained all year only to hand your hammer over to a skinny guy who is 6’5″ tall. That’s a rainbow torture.
However, the tables seem to be turning or at least swiveling in the right direction. With Tyler Farrar clearly struggling with the pain of losing his best friend Wouter Weylandt and opening questioning his readiness for La Grande Boucle, there’s a good chance Thor will be the undisputed sprint boss-man in France for Garmin.
Nobody has a real chance in a pure sprint against HTC-Highroad’s Member of the British Empire Mark Cavendish, but give Hushovd an opportunity on a hard stage with an uphill finish and he has a real shot. Hushovd has examined the route and thinks there are three or four stages that look delicious.
How Garmin supports Hushovd in the Tour de France will largely determine where he rides next year. A stage winmeans staying with Jonathan Vaughters’ funny, smart and laid-back squad is probably the right choice. No stage win and irritation with Garmin’s GC focus will likely push him out the door.
It’s definitely going to be a Tour de Thor. A win in France will open up plenty of options for a likable and extremely professional rider who is always good for a big win or two.
We can’t claim a huge backlog of first hand truth but from our limited Tour and Tour of California experience, we’ve always been impressed with Hushovd’s friendliness with fans. The man is always willing to put up with an interruption to make a fan happy. That’s big in our book.
The Tour de France is about five hundred great stories going at once. One of them will be Hushovd, how well he does and what his future holds.