Big day for Canadians at Tour de France
Hushovd wins for Canadian-owned team while Victoria's Hesjedal takes 4th
Thor Hushovd of the Canadian-owned Cervelo Test Team has won the bone-rattling third stage of the Tour de France into Arenberg.
The win over the gruelling cobblestones of France and Belgium gives the Norwegian the green jersey as top sprinter, a crown he won in last year's race.
It was a great day for Victoria's Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Transitions, who held the lead late in the stage before he was caught by a group that included Hushovd, Cadel Evans and Fabian Cancellara. Hesjedal ended up fourth and was chosen most aggressive rider of the day.
Frank Schleck of Luxembourg, who won the Tour of Switzerland last month, crashed on the fourth of seven sections of cobblestones. His Saxo Bank team said he was out of the race and taken to a hospital.
Defending Tour champion Alberto Contador — whose skills on cobbles had been in doubt — and last year's runner-up Andy Schleck (Frank's younger brother) gained time on Lance Armstrong.
France's Sylvain Chavanel wore the yellow jersey for Tuesday's 213-kilometre ride as the race headed from Belgium to France. But the Frenchman had to cope with two flat tires, along with a mechanical problem, and lost time on Cancellara.
"It's not bad, I just didn't have the legs," said Chavanel, with his face caked in dust. He won Monday's stage in a breakaway that took a lot out of him. "I had a nice day in yellow, over the cobbles, it's great."
Cobblestones test bikes and bodies alike, and the stage had been billed as the biggest trouble spot of the first week, even after two straight days of crashes on slick roads. It was the first time since 2004 that riders had to contend with cobblestones at cycling's premier race.
Cancellara, who won the opening prologue, was delighted to retrieve the leader's jersey.
"Yesterday I gave it up, today I took it," he said. "We can call it a good day for Saxo Bank despite the loss of Frank, a great friend."
Andy Schleck was fifth, in the same time as Hushovd: four hours 49 minutes 38 seconds. Spain's Contador came in 13th, one minute 13 seconds back. Armstrong was 32nd, 2:08 back.
In the overall standings, Cancellara leads second-place Thomas by 23 seconds and two-time Tour runner-up Evans by 39. Hesjedal is fourth. Contador is ninth, 1:40 back.
The three-week race ends in Paris on July 25.