Hushovd Wins Stage 8; Voeckler Keeps Yellow Jersey
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Norwegian sprinter Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) won Stage 8 of the 2004 Tour de France Sunday in a battle at the finish of the 104-mile course from Lamballe to Quimper, France. Kim Kirchen (Fassa Bortolo), Erik Zabel (T-Mobile), Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo), and Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) rounded out the top five respectively. French National Champion Thomas Voeckler’s (Brioches La Boulangere ) 58th place finish was enough to keep him in yellow for the fourth day in a row while McEwen’s fourth place finish secured him the green jersey.
Hushvod claims his second victory in Sunday's Stage 8.Hushvod claims his second victory in Sunday’s Stage 8.
For top Tour contenders Lance Armstrong (U.S. Postal), Tyler Hamilton (Phonak), and Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile), Sunday was a day to stay at the front of the peloton and out of trouble as rain hammered riders on the Brittany route and made for slick and dangerous conditions. Armstrong finishing 33rd on the day retaining his sixth place general classification standing while Hamilton, Ullrich, and former U.S. Postal domestique Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) currently stand at 11th, 20th, and 36th in the overall standings.
The attacks began early on the course with Matteo Tosatto (Fassa Bortolo), Ronny Scholtz (Gerolsteiner), and Jakob Piil (CSC) breaking away at around the 10-mile mark. The breakaway specialists were able to garner a lead of up to six minutes with about 56 miles left in the stage, but the peloton soon began chasing. Teams Domina Vacanze and Brioches la Boulangere took up the charge with Crédit Agricole and Quickstep-Davitamon joining the effort soon after to reel in the leaders. U.S. Postal’s George Hincapie also made his presence known at the front of the group by guiding team captain Armstrong and keeping him out of harm’s way.
With about 39 miles to go, the peloton had gained on the leaders and was within 4:25. With 9.8 miles to go, the gap between the peloton and the leaders had been trimmed to one minute, and at six miles to go, Tosatto, Scholtz, and Piil were overtaken.
Despite efforts by McEwen, Paolo Bettini (Quick Step-Davitamon), and Kirchen to put some space between themselves and the main pack, a last second bit of speed and positioning was enough to give Hushovd the win.
Monday will serve as the first of two rest days for the riders and racing will resume Tuesday as the peloton covers 99 miles from Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat to Guéret.