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Thor Hushovd was lucky enough to be a smart bike racer as well as a strong one. Most bike riders have one or the other, for example Thomas Voeckler is an extremely smart rider, but not as strong as some of the other pros. When you have a combination of both it is devastating for their opponents and makes them very tough to beat. Thor Hushovd was also an extremely versatile rider, he has won races in Time Trials, solo in road races, and also bunch sprints. He has won 10 stages of the tour as well as winning the sprinters jersey in 2005 and 2009 and wearing the yellow jersey on 2 occasions in 2006 and 2011. He won 1 stage in the Giro d'italia as well as 3 in the Vuelta. Doing this puts him in the very top echelon of professional riders in the history of the sport by winning a stage in each of the three grand tours. Hushovd was also a solid rider of the cobbles and finished 2nd in the king of them all, Paris Roubaix, in 2010. In 2010, he also won the sprint finish for the rainbow jersey in Geelong, Australia and he would have this on his shoulders for the next year, and it is at one of those races we jump to now.
It was stage 13 of the Tour de France 2011, and Thor was in the Rainbow Jersey. Todays stage was known as the Queen Stage and Thor was certainly not listed as a favorite to win today. Nonetheless, an early break formed with the likes of Jeremy Roy, Jerome Pineau, and Edvald Boasson Hagen to name a few. Because Thor was such a heavy rider at 79kg, the peloton allowed him to stay away in the bunch. The group worked together nicely, starting the big climb of the day, the Col d'Aubisque wiith a 6 minute advantage on the peloton.
This is where the action begun, as soon as Thor hit the slopes he made an attack. This was evidence of Thor being a smart rider. He knew he was too heavy to keep up with the climbers on the steeper part of the climb, so he was trying to get a head start on them before they reached the tough gradients. Thor knew the stage finished on a flat section as well and this wasn't a mountain finish. Hushovd liked his chances for the win today.
He kept on with his tempo pace, eventually the two climbers Jeremy Roy and David Moncoutie passed him. Thor being a seasoned professional knew not to try and hold their pace and sit on their wheel. He maintained his same tempo until the top and eventually crested the top a decent gap of 2 minutes to the leader. Thor was an extraordinary descender as well, and put everything on the line to try and pull back the advantage of 2 minutes. Unbelievably, Thor managed to drop Moncoutie on the flat run in to the finish putting on display the immense amount of power he has. Hushovd caught Roy with precisely 2.2km to go. You would normally expect a sprinter, with only that small amount of time left to go would sit in and wait for the finish, but Thor was not taking that. He didn't even slow down for him and sped straight around Roy, giving him no chance at all of staying in his slipstream. It was this moment as Roy disappeared into the distance that his dreams were dashed, and Thors were being made.
Thor solo'd in for his win in the Tour of 2010, on the queen stage and in the Rainbow Jersey. At the end of the stage, Thor said after the stage this was his most beautiful win in the Tour so far, and I agree. Don't forget to watch in the video below!
Robbie McEwen is a well known name not just in Australian Cycling scenes but also international cycling. He is one of the best cyclists to come out of Australia and won the sprinters green jersey 3 times, as well as winning 12 sprint stages in the Tour de France and 12 in the Giro d'Italia. Robbie also won the Aussie Road Nats on 2 occasions in 2002 and 2005, bringing the Australian National Champions jersey to the crowds of Europe. Robbie was often hard to find in the peloton from the aerial shots and would often only appear in the final few hundred metres of the race.
The year was 2007 and it was the opening road stage, typically has its fair share of crashes because everyone is on edge and battling for the front wheels and today was not going to be any exception. The stage was departing from London, UK, and David Millar was keen to put on a show for his local fans. He won the first sprint before waiting for Andrey Grivko, Stephanie Auge and Aleksander Kuschynski to join him in the break They worked together for the remainder of the race until it became time for the sprinters teams to reign them back in.
At around 20km to go there was carnage in the peloton with a crash bringing down more than 20 riders, including pre stage favourite Robbie McEwen, who seemed like he had lost all hopes of winning the stage now. Robbie didn't give up his hopes though and neither did his team, whilst it is normal tradition to wait for a stage favourite or yellow jersey wearer to get back on the bunch if they had a crash or mechanical, the peloton couldn't wait as they still hadn't caught the breakaway riders yet so they had no time to slow down. If Robbie was going to win it was going to be an all out battle to the line.
Some of his team mates dropped back from the bunch to help him get back on and a few k's later he was spotted entering the end of the peloton. Even getting back into the bunch was a big enough ask, surely it would be impossible for him to reach the front as well? The commentators had certainly counted him out of this victory and were speaking of the likes of Tom Boonen (who was still contesting sprints at this stage), Robbie hunter and Thor Hushovd for line honours. Coming into the final few hundred meters the South African Robbie Hunter from Barloworld looked to have a big enough kick to take it originally, however it turns out he was premature and the sprinters started to come over him leading in to the final sweeping bend.
Then much to everyones surprise out of nowhere, Robbie McEwen exploded from the pack, powering around the best sprinters in the world like they were standing still. Powering on through adrenaline from his crash and blood dripping from his knee, he crossed the line in first place for what I believe was his greatest Tour de France win to date, and what a win to finish it on as well, as this was the last stage he would win at LeTour.
If you are ever out for a ride on the Gold Coast in QLD, I recommend visiting Piccolo Espresso in Miami. It is owned by Robbie and they have awesome food. Whenever I'm down that way I make sure I stop in for a coffee.
Don't forget to watch the video below!
On Sunday morning we had the pleasure of being one of the retail stalls at the Summer Cycling Fiesta. We had an early start to get there by 6 to set up our tent and put our stock out.The highlight of our day was no doubt having the young up and coming juniors come in (with their parents in tow of course), try on the kit and love it so much they went and put it on straight away for their races. Here is a photo attached of some of our happy customers, wearing the cloudburst combo.Kudos to all the guys and girls racing in the heat and hot wind, in the crit races and the cyclocross events! Overall was a great day out and thank you to Balmoral for the chance to participate- maybe ill get out there and race next time!