Critérium International: Corsican race to herald the European summer
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Critérium International: Corsican race to herald the European summer

by Ben Atkins at 2:35 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Critérium International
Mini Tour de France to see season’s first battle between July’s contenders as Europe puts its clocks forward

frank schleckThe Critérium International, to be run on the weekend of March 24th and 25th on the island of Corsica, will see many of the contender’s for the Tour de France do battle for the first time this year. 2011 race winner Fränk Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) will be competing against 2011 Tour winner Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) in a stage race for the first time this season. With the 2013 Tour de France - which will be the one hundredth edition - starting on the Mediterranean island, a victory will carry even greater significance.

Symbolically, the European clocks will ‘spring forward’ into summer time in the night between the two days of the race, heralding the approach of another European summer of racing.

The race, which is made up of a flat stage, a time trial, and a mountain stage, is known as the Mini-Tour de France, is organised by Tour owner ASO. The two-day, three-stage format has been changed a little for 2012, with the mountain stage switching from day one to day two. This, ASO hopes, will mean that the overall classification will not be decided until the final climb of the final day, maintaining suspense right to the end.

Riders expected to rival Evans in the 6.5km Porto Vecchio time trial include Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R La Mondiale), Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda), Schleck’s RadioShack-Nissan teammate Andreas Klöden, Thomas Lövkvist (Team Sky), Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun), and Colombian Fabio Duarte (Colombia-Coldeportes); the race will no doubt be decided the following day however, on the climb to the stage finish on the 956 metre Col de l’Ospedale.

Among the climbers expected to rival Evans and Schleck on the third and final stage will be Giro d’Italia stage winning cyclocross specialist John Gadret (AG2R La Mondiale), four-time Vuelta a España mountain jersey David Moncoutié (Cofidis), Basque Vuelta hero Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi), 2010 race winner Pierrick Fédrigo (FDJ-BigMat), emerging French rider Jonathan Hivert (Saur-Sojasun), Vuelta runner up Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alpe d’Heuz hero and Tour white jersey Pierre Rolland (Europcar).

As usual, Schleck’s RadioShack-Nissan team will include 40-year-old German veteran Jens Voigt, who could make a bid for a record sixth victory in the race; setting the outright record for the race and pulling clear of the great Emile Idée and Raymond Poulidor, with whom he currently sits on five wins.

Teams for the 2012 Critérium International with star riders

UCI ProTeams
AG2R La Mondiale (ALM): Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita), Jean-Christophe Péraud, John Gadret (Fra)
BMC Racing Team (BMC): Cadel Evans (Aus), Amaël Moinard (Fra)
Euskaltel-Euskadi (EUS): Igor Antón (Spa), Romain Sicard (Fra)
FDJ-BigMat (FDJ): Pierrick Fédrigo, Rémi Pauriol, Nacer Bouhanni (Fra)
Garmin-Barracuda (GRM): Christophe Le Mével (Fra), Dave Zabriskie (USA)
RadioShack-Nissan (RNT): Fränk Schleck (Lux), Maxime Monfort (Bel), Andreas Klöden, Jens Voigt (Ger)
Sky Procycling (SKY): Chris Froome, Ben Swift (GBr), Thomas Lövkvist (Swe)

Professional Continental Teams
Bretagne-Schuller (BSC): Renaud Dion, Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra)
Cofidis, Le crédit en ligne (COF): David Moncoutié, Mickaël Buffaz (Fra)
Colombia-Coldeportes (COL): Johan Esteban Chaves, Fabio Andres Duarte, Victor Hugo Peña (Col)
Project 1t4i (PRO): Alexandre Geniez (Fra), Simon Geschke (Ger)
Saur-Sojasun (SAU): Jimmy Engoulvent, Jonathan Hivert, Laurent Mangel (Fra)
Team Europcar (EUC): Pierre Rolland, Christophe Kern (Fra)
Team Type 1-Sanofi (TT1): Julien El Fares (Fra), Rubens Bertogliati (Swi)

Continental Teams
Auber 93 (BIG): Fabien Bacquet (Fra)
La Pomme Marseille (LPM): Clément Koretzky (Fra), Evaldas Siskevicius (Lit)


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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