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Tour de France

Costa captures stage, Hushovd retains the lead

Associated Press / July 10, 2011

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SUPER-BESSE, France - Portuguese rider Rui Alberto Costa won the eighth stage of the Tour de France after withstanding a late attack from Philippe Gilbert in the final climb yesterday, while Thor Hushovd kept the overall leader’s yellow jersey. Costa waved his hands in delight and punched the air as he crossed the line in 4 hours 36 minutes 46 seconds to clinch the first Tour stage win of his career.

“I knew I could get in the breakaway today. The team put me in the best position,’’ Costa said. “I was lucky that I managed to hold on until the end.’’

Costa paid tribute to Spanish cyclist Xavier Tondo, who died in May in a freak accident after he was crushed between his car and a garage door. “I want to dedicate this win to all the people who believed in me and supported me,’’ Costa said. “To my family, my teammates, to Xavier Tondo.’’

The race entered the mountains for the first time in the 117-mile trek from Aigurande to Super-Besse, featuring a sharp category-2 climb up Col de la Croix and a final climb of 1 mile.

Hushovd is still one second ahead of Cadel Evans and has been wearing the yellow jersey since his Garmin-Cervelo team won last Sunday’s time trial. Hushovd, not a renowned climber, was certain he would lose the yellow jersey before the stage.

“Maybe I was a bit pessimistic,’’ he said. “I didn’t think I could do it. Another day in yellow, it’s a miracle.’’