Cycling - Hushovd wins Haut-Var opener on comeback

Thor Hushovd won the opening stage of the Tour du Haut-Var as he began his comeback from fitness problems.

Eurosport
Cycling - Hushovd wins Haut-Var opener on comeback
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Thor Hushovd celebrates winning the first stage of the Tour du Haut-Var on February 16 (Instagram)

The 35-year-old Norwegian claimed a sprint victory after the 152.5km ride from Le Cannet des Maures to La Croix Valmer.

Hushovd endured a terrible 2012 season following a mystery virus, which resulted in muscle inflammation. He withdrew from the Giro d'Italia after five stages, with the fitness problems ruling him out of the Tour de France and London Olympic Games.

But the BMC man’s first ride of 2013 saw him power home ahead of Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco Pro Cycling) and Arthur Vichot (FDJ).

The stage was marked by a number of failed attacks.

Only 10km in, Rudy Kowalski (Roubaix Lille Metropole), Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne-Séche environnement) and Dimitri Le Boulch (BigMat Auber 93) managed to put a minute between themselves and the pack, which was extended to seven minutes after 40km.

But the trio were eventually hauled back and, subsequently, the peleton managed to reel in several attempts to pull clear by the likes of Romain Zingle (Cofidis) and Hubert Dupont (AG2R La Mondiale).

That set up a sprint finish, which Hushovd took in style for his first stage win since 2011.

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