Col de l’Ospedale finale for Critérium International
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Col de l’Ospedale finale for Critérium International

by Ben Atkins at 11:28 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Critérium International
Mountain stage switched to the end of mini Tour de France; riders to get a further taste of Corsica where 2013 Tour will start

frank schleckThe 2012 Critérium International will be run on March 24th and 25th, and take on a similar appearance to last year’s edition, but for the fact that the stages have been switched around. The two-day, three-stage, mini tour de France, traditionally features a flat stage, a time trial, and a mountain stage; where the 2011 edition began with a mountain stage that finished on the top of the Col de l’Ospedale, this year’s race will end that way.

The race, which is organised by Tour de France owner ASO, will take place on the Mediterranean Island of Corsica for the third straight year. This previously gave a strong hint that the Tour de France was poised to visit the island for the first time in its history; now that the 2013 Grand Depart has been confirmed for Corsica, the Critérium International will give riders a taste of the island in advance of the big race.

The overall victories of Pierrick Fédrigo (then Bbox Bouygues Telecom, now FDJ-BigMat) and Fränk Schleck (then Leopard Trek, now RadioShack-Nissan-Trek) were both achieved after they took a solo win on the first stage to the 957m high Col; Schleck beat Vasil Kiryienka (Movistar) and Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis) into second and third, and these were the final podium positions. Moving the tough mountain stage to the end of the race should add more of an element of suspense to the race, with the winner not determined until the end of the second and final day.

Stages two and three from previous years – the short, flat stage and time trial in the town of Porto-Vecchio – will move to become the first and second stages on day one.

ASO has invited a sixteen teams, from WorldTour, Professional Continental, and Continental level. Understandably, half of the teams are French, with both of France’s ProTeams – in AG2R La Mondiale and FDJ-BigMat – all four of its ProConti teams – in Bretagne-Schuller, Cofidis, Saur-Sojasun and Europcar – and two of its biggest Continental teams in Auber93 and La Pomme Marseille.

Schleck’s RadioShack-Nissan-Trek team is also on the list of invitees, and will also likely feature German veteran, and joint highest race winner, Jens Voigt.

Critérium International (2.HC)

16 selected teams

WorldTour ProTeams
AG2R La Mondiale (Fra)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spa)
FDJ - BigMat (Fra)
Garmin-Barracuda (USA)
RadioShack-Nissan (Lux)
Sky Procycling (GBr)

Professional Continental teams
Bretagne-Schuller (Fra)
Cofidis, Le crédit en ligne (Fra)
Colombia-Coldeportes (Col)
Project 1T4I (Ned)
Saur-Sojasun (Fra)
Team Europcar (Fra)
Team Type 1 - Sanofi (USA)

Continental teams
Auber 93 (Fra)
La Pomme Marseille (Fra)

Saturday 24th March
Stage 1: Porto-Vecchio > Porto-Vecchio, 89.5 km
Stage 2: Porto-Vecchio > Porto Vecchio, 6.5 km (ITT)

Sunday 25th March
Stage 3: Porto-Vecchio > Col de l’Ospedale, 179 km


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