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Hushovd wins Tour stage; leader Vockler loses time

Updated: July 19, 2011, 11:54

Mark Cavendish of Britain, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey, waits to take the start of the 16th stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 162.5 kilometers (101 miles) starting in Saint Paul Trois Chateaux and finishing in Gap, southern France, Tuesday July 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

GAP, France (AP) World champion Thor Hushovd won the rainy 16th stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday while overall leader Thomas Voeckler lost crucial seconds to main contenders Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans.

Contador attacked in the final climb of the 101-mile course from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Gap. The three-time champion finished 18 seconds ahead of Voeckler, cutting his deficit to the Frenchman to 3 minutes, 42 seconds.

Evans, a two-time Tour runner-up, also gained time on Voeckler. Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, another two-time runner-up, was among the day's big losers, finishing behind the other favorites.

Voeckler expects to lose the yellow jersey before the race ends Sunday in Paris.

"I kept it by a handful of seconds, but that shows that I've hit my ceiling,'' he said.

Hushovd led a three-man breakaway to win a stage for the second time on this Tour. Fellow Norwegian Edvald Boassen Hagen was second and Hushovd's Garmin-Cervelo teammate Ryder Hesjedal was third.

Hushovd, a veteran star sprinter, showed off his new talents when he won Stage 13 over a big climb. This time, he broke away on a rolling course.

The Norwegian has been one of the stars of this race: He held the yellow jersey for six days early in the race after Garmin-Cervelo won the team time trial in Stage 2.

"To win another stage is very good,'' he said.

Ten breakaway riders pressed the pace through most of the stage. By the finish, that group had thinned to the two Norwegians and Hesjedal, a Canadian.

As the pack prepared to scale the mid-grade Col de Manse climb, with less than 10 miles left, Contador sped to the front of the pack in a string of attacks to gain about 20 seconds on most favorites. Only Evans kept up.

The signal from Contador was clear: Don't forget about me.

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