Norwegian cycling star Thor Hushovd was, like other participants in this year’s Tour de France, taking a day off on Monday following lots of drama on the course over the weekend. Hushovd didn’t seem to mind losing the overall leader’s sought-after yellow jersey.
“We had to just about stop up, and waited until we heard how it went with the others,” Hushovd told news bureau NTB after major collisions in the race on Sunday. “Then it was over as far as the yellow jersey was concerned.
“It’s a risky sport. This year there’s unfortunately been an extreme number of accidents. It sends some thoughts through your head.”
Hushoved remained thrilled, though, that he held on to the lead and the yellow jersey for seven days. He lost it during the ninth lap of the prestigious race but that’s not what it will be remembered for. Rather, it was the collisions and injury that spoiled top riders’ chances.
The most dramatic arguably was when a French TV car trying to pass five riders sideswiped Juan Antonio Flecha, causing him to fall, and to fall into Johnny Hoogerland at high speed. Hoogerland ended up being thrown into barbed wire along the roadside and was badly cut up.
“It was the worst I’ve ever seen,” veteran Norwegian cyclist Dag Otto Lauritzen told TV2. “The driver of that car should be hung up in a tree to everyone can yell at him.” Hoogerland himself later was less emphatic but said he expected an apology.
Aleksander Vinokourov of Kazakhstan and Jurge Van den Broeck of Belgium also took serious falls, which were what caused Hushovd to stop. He lost the yellow jersey to Thomas Voeckler of France. Hushovd finished six minutes and 36 seconds behind the winner of Sunday’s stage, Luis Leon Sanchez.
“It’s been a fantastic week,” Hushovd said despite all the accidents that have forced 14 riders out of the race because of injury. “I kept the jersey longer than I thought was possible.”
Norway’s other rider in the Tour de France, Edvald Boasson Hagen, also had a tough weekend just after winning the sixth stage on Thursday. Bradley Wiggins, the captain of Hagen’s team, Sky, was among those injured in a mass collision on Friday. He ended up in the hospital, forced to withdraw from the race.
“It was sad and tough to see Bradley hit the ground,” Boasson Hagen told NTB. He waited by Wiggins’ side but was sent on, although he ended up losing a precious three minutes and most of his other teammates riding behind were hindered by the collision.
“The road from the top to the bottom is not long,” Boasson Hagen said.
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