Norwegian Thor Hushovd is one of the strongest all-round riders in the peloton, if not quite the force he once was, with an astonishing array of victories across his career.
'The God of Thunder' is a cult hero among cycling fans - at his peak he was a match for the fastest sprinters, as well as being an incredibly strong time-trialler. He's also a fearsomely fast descender, and neither is he the slowest on the way up the mountain.
He is the first Norwegian rider to have worn the yellow jersey, the first Scandanavian to win the World Road Race title, and the Scandanavian rider with the highest number of Tour stage wins - 10 at the time of writing, plus two team time trials.
His stunning lone attack and stage win on the road to Lourdes in 2011 was one of the most memorable individual performances of recent years. He has also won three stages at the Vuelta a Espana and one at the Giro d'Italia.
In 2012 he will race alongside the current champion Cadel Evans and Philippe Gilbert of Belgium for the BMC Racing Team.
Like many modern sportsman he has more than one nickname: add 'the Bull of Grimstad' to the list.
Before turning pro in 1998, Hushovd won the Under-23 time trial world championship and the Under-23 versions of Paris–Roubaix and Paris–Tours.
His first Tour stage win arrived in 2001, a team time trial with Credit Agricole, riding alongside Americans Bobby Julich and Jonathan Vaughters.
Hushovd won his first individual stage the following year, and in 2004 wore the yellow jersey for the first time.
In 2005 he achieved his first green jersey, holding off the Australian duo Stuart O'Grady and Robbie McEwen.
Hushovd won the Tour prologue in 2006, holding onto the yellow jersey for two further stages, before winning Stage 20. His points victory in the Vuelta later that year underlined his superb form.
A switch to the Cervelo TestTeam for 2009 brought him a stage win Girona, and after a fierce battle with Mark Cavendish, the second green jersey of his career.
His success was not without controversy: on Stage 14 which finished in a sprint in Colmar, Cavendish won the stage ahead of Hushovd but was stripped of the victory after race officials ruled he had illegally blocked Hushovd in the sprint.
Edged into third in the green jersey standings by Petacchi and Cavendish in the 2010 Tour, Hushovd switched to the Garmin-Cervelo in 2011. He raced in the world champion's colours having triumphed in Australia in 2010. That solo attack into Lourdes must rank as one of the favourite memories of his career.
Hushovd grabbed the yellow jersey for seven stages last year, defending the jersey determinedly after winning the team time trial with Garmin-Cervelo. What he can produce at BMC, alongside Evans, will be interesting to see.
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