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Hushovd surges to Tour stage glory

Thor Hushovd
Hushovd: "The Vikings have returned to Brittany."
1. T. Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole 3:54.22
2. K. Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo
3. E. Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile
4. R. McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo
5. A. Kloeden (Ger) T-Mobile
6. T. Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
7. L. Brochard (Fra) AG2R
8. S. O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis
9. O. Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak
10. D. Hondo (Ger) Gerolsteiner
1. T. Voeckler (Fra) Brioches La Boulangre 33:03.36
2. S. O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis +3.01 secs
3. S. Casar (Fra) 4.06
4. M. Backstedt (Swe) Alessio-Bianchi 6.27
5. J. Piil (Den) Team CSC 7.09

QUIMPER, France -- Norwegian Thor Hushovd powered to victory in the 168-kilometer eighth stage of the Tour de France from Lamballe after another wet and cold day in the saddle for the riders.

The Credit Agricole man was virtually unchallenged in the uphill sprint finish into Quimper in Brittany, chasing down a late breakaway effort by Kim Kirchen in the last 200 meters.

"The Vikings have returned to Brittany," said the 26-year-old sprinter.

"Today really was my day. I'm very happy."

Luxembourg's Kirchen held on to finish second while Germany's Eric Zabel finished third.

Young Frenchman Thomas Voeckler of La Boulangere defended the leader's yellow jersey.

Lance Armstrong, who is nine minutes 35 seconds behind Voeckler, and his main rivals finished safely in the peloton on a day relatively free of accidents despite the bad weather.

Runaway dog

A dozen riders were brought down near the finish by a runaway dog on the course, although all resumed the race and completed the stage.

The main attack of the day was led by Jakob Piil, who has already spent more than 400 kilometers of the Tour so far in breakaways, with the Dane being joined by Matteo Tosatto, Karsten Kroon and Ronny Scholz. The four built a lead of more than five minutes over the peloton but were chased down in the closing kilometers.

On Monday the 176 remaining riders have a rest day, flying south to the Massif Central when the sprinters will give way to the climbers.

Armstrong, chasing a record sixth straight Tour win, said he was satisfied to survive a chaotic first week that featured bad weather and crashes in abundance.

"It's been a crazy first week. I don't ever remember doing one like that," said the American.

Looking ahead to the second week, Armstrong said: "We'll start to see the start of the real race. There are a few days that are not so selective, but then we have the mountains and the start of the real Tour."

Armstrong's main rival, German Jan Ullrich, also admitted he was relieved to have made it to the end of the first week unscathed.

"Today, I had trouble because it was slippery and dangerous," said Ullrich.

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