Lourdes: Norway`s Thor Hushovd won the 13th stage of the Tour de France on Friday, while Thomas Voeckler retained the race leader`s yellow jersey.
Frenchman Jeremy Roy thought he had clinched the first Tour stage win of his career by attacking at the foot of the huge climb to Col d`Aubisque. But he couldn`t hold off Hushovd and David Moncoutie, who overtook Roy near the line and finished second.
"I really didn`t think I would win this stage," Hushovd said. "I did things right tactically."
The peloton, including Voeckler, was lagging nearly nine minutes behind Hushovd when he completed 95-mile route from Pau to the Catholic shrine town of Lourdes.
Having done most of the hard work climbing, Roy had to stay safe descending the 26 miles to the finish. Roy had a nervous moment when a fan got to close and brushed him with his flag, causing him to swerve to the left. But he still seemed set for victory until world champion Hushovd started attacking aggressively on the descent.
"It`s true that I descend very well," Hushovd said. "I knew I had to. It was super."
Hushovd had caught up with Moncoutie with about 15 miles remaining, and they took it in turns trying to close the gap on Roy, who led by 1 minute, 10 seconds with 12 miles to go.
That was whittled down to 18 seconds with 6 miles remaining, and Hushovd caught him with 1 mile left.
The 28-year-old Roy`s previous best on the Tour had been a second-place stage finish in 2008.
"The disappointment is too big, it will be hard to take in," Roy said. "It`s too hard for me. Only victory counts."
Hushovd had worn the yellow jersey earlier in the race after Garmin-Cervelo had won the team time trial on stage 2, and Voeckler has worn it since taking it from him on the crash-marred ninth stage.
The main Tour contenders, including defending champion Alberto Contador of Spain and two-time runners-up Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans, drifted back and did not chase as they conserved energy for another mountain stage on Saturday.
None of the main rivals took any time off each other, as there was no repeat of Thursday`s attacks, where a tired-looking Contador lost 13 seconds to Schleck and Evans.