Thursday, July 14, 2005
Cycling-Aussies to fight Hushovd for green jersey
By Stephen Farrand
DIGNE-LES-BAINS, France, July 14 - Thor Hushovd is
the Tour de France's new points leader after Belgium's Tom
Boonen retired with an injured knee.
Norwegian Hushovd, however, will have to contest every
sprint if he wants to wear the points leader's green jersey at
the end of the race.
The Credit Agricole sprinter has a total of 142 points after
finishing ninth on Thursday's 12th stage to Digne-Les-Bains.
Australians Stuart O'Grady and Robbie McEwen are close on his
heels with 120 and 107 points respectively.
"I've got the green jersey and I'm going to do everything I
can to keep it all the way to Paris but it's going to be very
hard because Stuart O'Grady is riding very well and McEwen is
very fast in the sprints," Hushovd told reporters.
"I'm sorry for Boonen that he had to retire. He's been very
unlucky with three crashes but that's racing and that's the Tour
O'Grady, who finished 10th on Thursday, was happy his
Cofidis team mate David Moncoutie won stage 12 and said he would
continue to ride an aggressive race.
"It worked perfect for us," said the Australian. "Mission
"The objective was to win the stage...Hushovd is going to be
hard to beat but I'm going to take it day by day.
"The Tour de France is a three-week adventure, anything can
happen and you've got to go out there and be aggressive and try
and make things happen like Cofidis did today.
"My first objective is to win a stage and then if I'm in the
points leader's green jersey on the Champs Elysees, it'll be the
cherry on the cake."
McEwen lost a few points to Hushovd and O'Grady on Thursday
and is determined to win a third green jersey after success in
2001 and 2003.
"I'm still in with a chance and I don't want to let those
guys get a free run and take heaps of points every day and
increase their lead," he said.
"On the hard days I want to try and hold the points
difference. Maybe on the other days something will happen and
I'll come right back into contention but unfortunately it's not
always the fastest sprinter that wins the green jersey."
McEwen will try and pull back points on Friday's flat
173.5-km 13th leg from Miramas to Montpellier. He is not
expecting the stage to end in a bunch sprint finish.
"I don't think we'll see another bunch sprint finish until
Paris," he said. "It might be a flat stage but it's going to be
hot and windy and, let's face it, we're two weeks into the Tour
and there are almost dead bodies on bikes out there.
"When the teams are fresh you can use your team to chase
down the attacks but now it's almost impossible to pull them
back. Unfortunately that doesn't help me but I'll keep on
fighting for points."