- The race 2011
- Key moments
- All about the race
Thor Hushovd led his team-mates over the line in Les Essarts to give the Garmin-Cervélo squad its first win in the Tour de France. Ten years after the Norwegian stood on the podium alongside his Crédit Agricole team-mates in Bar-le-Duc – when Jonathan Vaughters was still a rider, and part of that line-up – he again celebrates a victory in the Tour! Vaughters is now the manager of the team that has been a formidable force in recent years. The US-registered squad beat BMC by four seconds and put two riders into first and second in the overall rankings. Hushovd took the yellow jersey for a third time in his career and now has a lead of just one second over the world champion from last year, Cadel Evans.
The Progress Report
The 23km team time trial of stage two that started and finished in Les Essarts began at 2.30pm with Alberto Contador’s Saxo Bank-SunGard squad the first to start. Teams departed at seven-minute intervals and the time at the finish was taken from the fifth rider across the finish line. The conditions were mild with temperatures of about 24 degrees Celsius and a westerly breeze of about 15-20km/h. Despite numerous crashes in stage one, all 198 riders who started the Tour were still in the race.
Saxo Sets The Early Standard
Although some riders who did a reconnaissance of the course early in the day suggested that the record average speed for a team time trial could be under threat on this short, relatively flat course, the first team home covered the 23 kilometers in 25’16” (54.616km/h). Saxo Bank finished with six riders, with Richie Porte the first across the line.
Rabobank was the sixth team to start and it set the best times at both intermediate checks and beat Saxo Bank’s effort by 16” (finishing with eight riders). It was Garmin-Cervélo, however, that lived up to pre-race favoritism by setting the best time: six seconds ahead of Rabobank at 9km, 13” better at 16.5km and 12” ahead at the finish. Zabriskie pulled some long turns in the final kilometers – spending around 45” in the wind, while others led the paceline for around 20-25 seconds. In the closing meters the US champion lost contact with five of his team-mates but Hushovd led four others from his team across the line to post an average speed of 55.6km/h.
Hushovd The First Polka-Dot Jersey Without A Single Point…
The new regulations for the climbing classification allot just one point for category-four climbs. This means that only Gilbert (OLO) earned anything for the polka-dot jersey in stage one. With Cadel Evans (2nd on Mont des Alouettes) in the green jersey, it meant that Hushovd (GRM) would wear the polka-dot top for the team time trial today.
Garmin’s Quest For A Maiden Victory
Team Sky was first by just 0.98 seconds (ahead of Garmin at the first check) and Wiggins did at least one one-minute turn to try and maintain their winning advantage. The British squad wasn’t able to maintain it’s leading position and finished four seconds slower than their US rivals.
HTC-Highroad was one of the only teams to suffer a crash, with Eisel falling on a left turn inside the first kilometer. The winning team of stage one in the Giro d’Italia still rode a strong race but finished five seconds behind the Garmin.
A New Race Leader
At the first time check (9km), Omega Pharma-Lotto was already 26” behind the time of Sky which translated to the reality that Gilbert’s stint in yellow would last only one day. Cadel Evans and his BMC colleagues rode a strong stage, earning the third best time at the 9km and 16.5km checks and, at the finish, they were just four seconds behind Garmin to take second place. This means that the 2010 world champion will take the yellow jersey, with his team-mate David Millar in second overall. The 2009 world champion Cadel Evans is ranked third after finishing second two stages in a row.
Philippe Gilbert’s team finished 39” behind Garmin. The former yellow jersey is now ranked 30th overall. This is the third Tour that Hushovd has led the general classification (after 2004 and 2006).
His team finished 10th, 39 seconds behind Garmin-Cervélo which meant that the yellow jersey was stolen from him in the team time trial but Philippe Gilbert isn’t bothered… he’s now working on another ambition.
“It was a short day with just over 20 minutes of effort but also a difficult stage. Like many teams, we had riders who crashed yesterday so we were not 100 per cent but we still gave it everything we could and there is nothing to regret.
“Now I have the green jersey. It was not a goal but maybe, in the coming days, it came become another ambition. For now, I know that tomorrow we have to be very careful because it’s possible that there’ll be a lot of wind and there could be splits in the peloton. I’ll just follow and avoid any drama…”
David Millar has won stages of the Tour before but he was thrilled that his Garmin-Cervélo team achieved a major conquest because of good planning, strong riding and a great bond between everyone involved.
“The tension in the team bus was just unbelievable. Everyone was just sitting in there with their hearts racing as though we were still in the team time trial. And because we’re all so close and many of us have been through so much together in the last couple of years, it was really special. We all knew how much it meant to us and to pull it off was just a magic moment.
“Someone said I should wait a few more years to write my book but I’m very lucky in that everything is going so wonderfully at the moment that I’m loving it at the moment.
“I don’t think of the yellow jersey because we’ve got Thor in that and we’ll be doing everything for him. And it’ll be everything for Tyler tomorrow. Happy days! We’ve got plenty of cards we can play.
“Jonathan was just a walking ball of nerves. He didn’t hide the fact that he was putting everything in to this. It was a big call and it was a brave move but we pulled it off. I think that’s why he was so nervous. Fortunately we know Jonathan so well that we keep him on the fringe but I think he came into our rooms about 10 times each this morning just trying to give us new ideas. We were like, ‘Jonathan, just calm down, we know what we’re doing…’
“And he was like, ‘Oh, yeah… yeah… yeah.’
“It was nice because he took all our nerves on for himself.
“The sequence was Julian, Navardauskas – our wünderkind – then me. Our shortcoming in the past has been to do really average starts but this time we really nailed it. I went really deep at the beginning to just get us up to speed and hold it there for as long as I could so that everyone could absorb it. And I was just one the ropes for the rest of the ride after that and it was horrible but it worked well.”
There was no containing Jonathan Vaughters after the team time trial. The manager of Garmin-Cervélo was thrilled at the result because everything he planned came into place… and he gushed with enthusiasm about his team’s first victory in the Tour de France.
“This win was for everybody in the team. There are so many people that we have who have put so much extra into this. Everything counts. It’s the little details. It’s about going over and over and over everything again to make sure that everything was perfect – that we have the best tires, the fastest bikes… the tiniest little details that we’ve worked so hard to attain!
“We knew we did everything right. We knew we brought the right riders. We knew we had the right strategy on the day. But you need everything to go perfectly on the day and that’s what you get nervous about. Our job had been done correctly but I was just nervous about the unanticipated – a little dog running out in the middle of the road or some random act… whatever, you know, but we got it right!
“We were here on Monday and we rode this course six times. We worked on the order of riders – that was something that I spent a lot of sleepless nights thinking, ‘I want this guy here, this guy there…’ and it actually worked perfectly! When I was watching I was like, ‘Holy …it’s actually going to work!’
“Who am I? I’m just… whatever – a little kid from Colorado. But I’m living the dream. It was like, ‘Oh, look that worked right!’ And everything fell into place.
“We knew that Julian was going to be the weak link so we had him start and he burned his energy up first. I was hoping we’d get six or seven kilometers out of him but we got nine! Perfect. That worked. Then Tyler, because he’s not riding GC said, ‘It’s okay, I’ll be next…’ and he took some unbelievable turns from kilometer 10 to 15 and then he blew but each time they did it to precision, it was never disruptive to the team effort. The way I feel now is a mix of relief and excitement.”
Garmin-Cervélo has been close to success in the three previous Tours de France. Managed by Jonathan Vaughters, this US-registered squad has had a significant impact on the race since its debut in 2008 but it finally scored a most-anticipated victory in the team time trial in Les Essarts. The world champion is now the leader of general classification…
“First of all, I’d like to keep this jersey on my shoulders for as long as possible. I know it will be hard in stage four when we go up the Mûr-de-Bretagne but I’ll do my best and then help Tyler Farrar in the sprints and try to go for a stage win myself later on. Like I’ve said for a long time, the green is not a goal for me this year. If I get a stage win then I’ll be really happy with my Tour de France.
“The team’s goal was to win this team time trial and also get me in yellow and we’ve made it so from the team’s perspective this Tour de France is already a success. We have a lot more that we’d like to do though including trying to get Tyler to win a stage in the sprints and then we have the GC guys who will try to be up there.
“The teamwork that we did is what made the difference today. Nobody was thinking about anything other than the whole team. We were riding as one unit and it was a satisfying day.”
There are two Garmin riders at the top of the overall rankings - Thor Hushovd and David Millar. There was another rider from the team in the front group of stage one but Navardauskas didn’t finish with the top five of his team in today’s stage. So Cadel Evans will hold down third in the GC rankings.
This is the first time that Garmin has won a stage of the Tour de France. It first contested the race as a wild-card invitee in 2008. In 2009 it finished second in the TTT around Montpellier and today it has won by four seconds - ahead of another US-registered squad, BMC.
With Gilbert yet to finish, we can already confirm that Hushovd will be the new race leader. By early calculations, second and third overall will be David Millar and Ramunas Navardauskas... while the 2009 world champion Cadel Evans is fourth on GC.
BMC has the second best time of the day. It means that Evans will not take the yellow jersey as he had a lead of three seconds over Hushovd but the Norwegian’s team is four seconds faster than BMC. The provisional results show that Hushovd will be the new race leader with an advantage of just one second over the Australian...
Van de Walle and Vanendert have been dropped by their team around the 12km mark. Only two of the riders who were part of this Belgian squad for the 2009 Tour are in the line-up this year (Lang and van den Broeck)... but, back then, the team lost 2’36" in 39km of team time trialling around Montpellier.