Hushovd Takes Prologue Time Trial
STRASBOURG, France Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) of Norway, a two-time Tour de France stage winner, edged George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) of Greenville, South Carolina, by less than one second Saturday to claim the prologue and the first yellow jersey of the Tour de France’s 93rd edition.
George HincapieDiscovery’s George Hincapie gunning it on the time-trail course on the opening day of the 2006 Tour de France.
Hushovd, 28, completed the 4.4-mile route in 8 minutes and 17 seconds at an average speed of 31.95 mph. He was the 165th rider on the course in the field of 176, waiting for the final 11 riders to hit the course until Hincapie, the final rider, posted his mark, 0.73 seconds slower.
David Zabriskie (CSC) of Salt Lake City, Utah, who last year defeated Lance Armstrong by one second to win the prologue, was third, four seconds behind Hushovd.
“I started fast, but not at 100 percent,” said Hushovd, who won the green points jersey in 2005 as the race’s best sprinter but didn’t win any stages. “But I was very happy with how I rode the corners today. For me, I did a perfect time trial.”
Despite the diminished field following the departure of eight individual riders after the Spanish doping investigation and then the entire Astana-Wurth team, the intact field of eight Americans competing for five teams didn’t fare as well as expected.
Only Floyd Landis (Phonak) of Murrieta, California, who placed ninth, nine seconds behind Hushovd, joined Hincapie and Zabriskie in the top ten. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) of Santa Rosa, California, who, with Landis, is among the race favorites, finished 36th, trailing Hushovd by 21 seconds.
Landis likely would have fared better but team officials noticed he had a cut tire prior to his start, making him about nine seconds late for his starting time.
David Miller (Saunier-Duval) of Great Britain, a prologue favorite who rode for the first time in the Tour since returning from a two-year suspension, placed 17th, trailing the winner by 14 seconds.
Hushovd, who led the Tour de France for one day after his stage win in 2004, will wear his second career yellow in Sunday’s Stage 1. The day’s journey will take the riders 114.6 miles from Strasbourg into Germany and back again during an approximate four-hour trek likely suited for a tight finish between the sprint specialists in the peloton.
For more of Outside Online Tour de France Correspondent James Raia’s coverage of the 2006 Tour de France, including his daily e-newsletter, go to www.byjamesraia.com.