‘Thor de France:’ He wins again
July 19, 2011
Norwegian superstar cyclist Thor Hushovd wowed the crowds again when he won the 16th stage of the prestigious Tour de France on Tuesday. Hushovd finished just ahead of fellow Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen, making it another great day for Norwegian fans.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that Hushovd and Boasson Hagen followed each other closely throughout the difficult 162.5-kilometer-long stage from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Gap with altitude variations of around 700 meters. The winner was decided during an all-Norwegian sprint at the end, which spurred congratulations from Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.
“I’m really glad about this victory,” Hushovd told Norway’s TV2. “I thought a lot along the the way that it was special to sit and cycle like that against Edvald. He was on the offensive and strong, and then I was a bit stronger in the sprint.”
Hushovd told NRK the race was “great … I have never seen so many Norwegians along the route. It was really emotional.”
The only two men from Norway in the race thus continued to make their marks in the Tour de France – NRK crowed that they’re in the process of taking over the race. In addition to also winning a stage on Friday, the 33-year-old Hushovd won the right to wear the yellow jersey for seven days, starting back on the 4th of July, for having the fastest overall time. Boasson Hagen won this year’s longest stage earlier in the race around France.
“I really don’t know what’s happening here,” Hushovd said. “It’s unreal. We are the only two Norwegians here, and then we’re competing against each other for the victory. It’s incredible.”
As if that wasn’t enough, the two Norwegians’ closest rival on Tuesday was Ryder Hesjedal of Canada, who has Norwegian roots and also rides for Team Garmin-Cervelo.
Hushovd’s latest victory marks the 13th for Norway in the history of the Tour de France. Newspaper Aftenposten reported earlier on Tuesday that offers are pouring in for Hushovd should he want to switch teams. It won’t hinge on money, though, because Hushovd had made it clear he looks for athletic ambition and a good reputation when choosing a team. The world champion wants a team that will help him win one or preferably several classic races plus stages in the world’s largest, wrote Aftenposten. He may stay with Garmin Cervelo, while other possibilities reportedly are Europcar and Vacansoleil-DCM.
Boasson Hagen, meanwhile, was also delighted with what NRK called Tuesday’s “double Norwegian” victory. ”It’s just great for Norway to manage this,” he told TV2. “And it’s fun that there are so many Norwegians here to cheer us on.”
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