Tour de France: Thor Hushovd takes stunning victory in latest stage

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The Independent Online

World champion Thor Hushovd today foiled Jeremy Roy's bid for a first Tour de France stage win with a stunning victory in Lourdes.

Roy (FDJ), who was a key component of yesterday's breakaway, was to the fore again on today's 152.5-kilometre 13th stage from Pau to Lourdes, which included the hors categorie (beyond category) ascent of the Col d'Aubisque.

But the Frenchman was caught 2.2km from the end and Norwegian Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) surged for the line and was able to pause and celebrate a sensational Tour success in the rainbow jersey.

It was Hushovd's ninth stage win of his career, adding an individual success to the team time-trial triumph on stage two in Les Essarts.

David Moncoutie (Cofidis) was second, while Roy (FDJ), so long the day's leader, had to settle for third place after being passed by his compatriot in the closing stages.

Moncoutie was 10 seconds behind Hushovd, with Roy 26 seconds adrift.

Five minutes behind Hushovd was Lars Bak (HTC-Highroad), who claimed fourth, leading the remainder of the day's escapees over the line.

Jerome Pineau (QuickStep) was fifth, Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen sixth, Vladimir Gusev (Katusha) seventh, Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) eighth and Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank) ninth.

After breaking out of the peloton on the descent of the Col d'Aubisque, Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) finished in 10th place to claim six points in his bid for the points classification leader's green jersey.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) retained the race leader's yellow jersey after finishing in the main bunch, seven minutes 37 seconds behind Hushovd, as the top of the general classification remained unchanged.

After the day's first climb - the category three Cote de Cuqueron - and 57km of racing, a 10-man group, including Hushovd were allowed to go clear, with Voeckler's Europcar team slowing the peloton's pursuit.

Also in the escape, which had an advantage of more than four minutes at the top of the day's second climb - the category four Cote de Belair - were Roy, Moncoutie, Boasson Hagen, Tjallingii, Dmitriy Fofonov (Astana), Pineau, Petacchi, Gusev and Bak.

The day's intermediate sprint took place in Bielle after 82.5km, with 70km remaining.

The escapees - including Petacchi, last year's winner of the points classification's green jersey - apparently were conserving themselves for the Col d'Aubisque after not contesting the sprint, with Boasson Hagen rolling over the line in first place for 20 points.

With 10 riders in the breakaway, the leading rider in the peloton would claim five points at best.

Maillot vert incumbent Mark Cavendish had to settle for 12th after Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), his nearest challenger in the points race, claimed 11th, trimming the Briton's lead by one point to 17.

Out in front Hushovd made his move at the foot of the Col d'Aubisque, going clear alone.

However, he soon had Roy for company with the Frenchman eyeing the points to take him into the King of the Mountains' polka dot jersey.

Behind the duo their fellow escapees were strung out in a line, with Moncoutie and Boasson Hagen aiming to bridge the gap.

Roy - prominent in yesterday's break - and Moncoutie soon passed Hushovd in turn.

Roy then reached the cloud-covered summit with an advantage of 54 seconds over Moncoutie.

Hushovd followed two minutes behind, while the peloton, comprising the main favourites and Voeckler, were eight minutes adrift at the summit.

Roy crested the next Pyrenean peak, the Col du Soulor, well clear to begin the 33km descent into Lourdes.

Hushovd caught Moncoutie with 28km remaining and the duo worked together in a bid to catch Roy.

Hushovd did the majority of the work as the pair cut Roy's advantage, which stood at 20 seconds with 12km remaining and 15 seconds with 5km left.

With 3km to go Hushovd had Roy in his sights and left Moncoutie with a powerful burst.

The Norwegian caught Roy with 2.2km to go and accelerated forward, and the leader for much of the day was soon also passed by his compatriot, his bid for glory derailed for a second straight day.

Hushovd negotiated the final 2km untroubled to soar to victory.

Gilbert trimmed his deficit to Cavendish in the maillot vert race by finishing 10th, while Rojas finished 12th on the stage to move within 13 points of the Briton.

Cavendish has 264 points, Rojas 251 and Gilbert 240.