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BMC Racing Team’s Thor Hushovd won Saturday’s opening stage of the two-day Tour du Haut Var with a powerful, uphill sprint over Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco Pro Cycling Team) and Arthur Vichot (FDJ).
Hushovd said he had a strong lead out from his teammates at the end of the 152.7 kilometer race. “The whole team was supporting me well in the end and on the last lap they were riding hard to bring a couple of riders back,” he said. “Daniel Oss and Manuel Quinziato brought me to the front with 200 meters to go and then Slagter tried to jump me in the end, but I still had a last gear to respond.” The victory was the 2010 world road champion’s first since joining the BMC Racing Team at the beginning of the 2012 season and his first since winning Stage 4 of the Tour of Britain on Sept. 14, 2011. He said the win was particularly satisfying after a virus and muscle inflammation sidelined him for much of last season. “This is really big because last year was frustrating and mentally hard,” Hushovd said. “I didn’t know what was wrong and to say no to the Tour de France, the Olympics and the worlds and not do anything for the team was not a good feeling. So I have been very grateful to the team the whole time for supporting me.”
BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Fabio Baldato said the squad rallied around Hushovd when he told them he was feeling up for going for the stage win. “They surrounded him well all day,” Baldato said. “When Thor gave them the go-ahead, it was Oss and Quinziatio who really made the difference at the end and put him in a good position on a really hard finish,.” Sunday’s 207 km final stage will be challenging, Baldato said. “We haven’t discussed the plan yet, but we know it will be really hard, like a mountain stage,” he said. “We have a number of options and good climbers here like Mathias Frank, Amaël Moinard and Dominik Nerz.”