Fedrigo takes stage and lead in Critérium International, Armstrong and Contador dropped
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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fedrigo takes stage and lead in Critérium International, Armstrong and Contador dropped

by VeloNation Press at 12:15 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Critérium International

Frenchman Pierrick Fedrigo (BBox Bouygues Telecom) won the 177 kilometer first stage of this year’s Critérium International with a well timed attack in the closing kilometers, while RadioShack’s Tiego Machado flew the flag for the American team finishing in second place 10 seconds back, with Euskaltel-Euskadi’s Samuel Sanchez rounding out the podium in third. Pre race favorites Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong were both dropped on the final ascent in Porto-Vecchio, taking themselves out of overall contention.

It didn’t take long for the first attack to take place in this year’s Critérium International, with two Frenchmen Christophe Moreau (Caisse d’Epargne) and Yann Huguet (Skil Shimano) making their move just 4 kilometers into the race. The peloton didn’t like the idea of letting Moreau ride clear, pulling them back just as many kilometers later to be replaced by another Frenchman Cedric Pineau (Roubaix Lille Metropole) and Dutchman Albert Timmer (Skil Shimano). By the time the duo reached the 35 kilometer mark the peloton had allowed them to build up a massive 10 minute lead, but the windy day would make it difficult for the escape to hold their ground.

The chase begins

Both the BMC Racing and Astana teams of World Champion Cadel Evans and Tour de France favorite Alberto Contador decided the duo had been given enough freedom, and went to the head of the race to begin the process of reeling them back. A handful of kilometers later Contador made his intensions for the weekend clear by snatching up the last time bonus on offer at the first sprint in Pianottoli-Caldarello. Last year’s winner Jens Voigt took his win by a scant two seconds.

By the time the leaders reached the slopes of the Viggianello climb their gap was down to 3:20 over a peloton led by the Euskaltel-Euskadi team of Olympic Champion Samuel Sanchez. As Timmer reached the top, the pair had only 1:40 with three climbs and just over 80 kilometers remaining.

At the second climb of the day, the Col de Mela, the time to the leaders was reduced to under a minute and their fate was sealed. The climb was animated by an attack from Frenchman David Moncoutié (Cofidis), who has won the mountains classification in the Vuelta a España for the past two seasons, but he was quickly reeled in and replaced by the French trio of Brice Feillu (Vacansoleil), Dimitri Champion (AG2R) and Pierre Rolland (Bbox Bouygues Telecom). On the descent of the climb the threesome had a gap of 35 seconds on a chasing Simon Geschke (Skil Shimano) and 45 seconds on the main peloton.

The lone chaser couldn’t make it to the trio of Frenchmen, whose gap increased to 40 seconds on the Euskaltel-Euskadi led peloton approaching the penultimate climb of day, the Col de Bacinu. At the top of the climb the leaders had increased their lead to 55 seconds on the main group, with only a long winding descent left to the final challenge of the day, the Col de l'Ospedale at 14.2 kilometers with an average gradient of 6.2%. The Astana team of Contador was lined out behind the Spanish squad poised to position their leader for the final charge, while up ahead Rolland lost contact with his compatriots and eventually fell back into the group.

The Kazakh squad of Contador took control leading into the Porto-Vecchio sprint, with the Spaniard again securing the final sprint time bonus on offer for a total of two seconds thus far; the margin from first to second place in the overall classification last year. The work done by his team was enough to doom the two breakaways who would soon join Rolland in the peloton.

Former teammates have no answer

Astana kept control of the peloton as they began the Col de l'Ospedale, with Dmitry Fofonov, Daniel Navarro and Alexandre Vinokourov leading the way, and Evans sitting in the wings. Blel Kadri (AG2R) tried to ride away on the lower slopes, but the motivated peloton kept him in check.

With 10 kilometers remaining Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil) made his move to work towards impressing race organizers ASO, in hopes of securing a wild card invite to the Tour de France. He rode straight past Kadri, as RadioShack worked their way to the front for their leader Lance Armstrong. The American seemed to have difficulty riding his way up front into position.

Four kilometers later the Uzbekian champion had 35 seconds over the Astana led peloton, with Armstrong still riding an uncomfortable distance from race favorites Contador and Evans, towards the back of the group. A kilometer later Armstrong was dropped from the front group, riding himself out of contention on the race’s first day.

Vinokourov took over at the head of the peloton with a stiff pace and began thinning out the group, pulling Lagutin back quickly, with Contador waiting comfortably in the wings. With just under 3 kilometers remaining Moncoutié again made another failed jump for the win, with Tiego Machado (RadioShack) and Pierrick Fedrigo (BBox Bouygues Telecom) countering his move and forcing a gap to the chasers. Behind the pace also proved too much for Contador, with him losing contact with the select group. Fedrigo, a stage winner from last year’s Tour de France, began to power away from the RadioShack rider and rode alone to take the first stage and the lead for France in the Critérium International. Machado finished second and Sanchez third. Contador crossed the line more than a minute later.

2010 Critérium International stage 1 results:
1. Pierrick Fedrigo (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)
2. Tiego Machado (RadioShack) @ 11s
3. Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) @ 15s
4. Cadel Evans (BMC Racing)
5  David Moncoutie (Cofidis)
6  Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil)
7  Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia)
8  Christopher Horner (RadioShack)
10 David Lopez Garcia (Caisse d'Epargne)
23. Alberto Contador (Astana) @ 1:13
50. Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) @ 4:51

General classification after stage 1:
1. Pierrick Fedrigo (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)
2. Tiego Machado (RadioShack) @ 15s
3. Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) @ 21s
4. Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) @ 25s
5. David Moncoutie (Cofidis) s.t.
6. Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil)
7. Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia)
8. Christopher Horner (RadioShack)
9. Ben Hermans (RadioShack)
10 David Lopez Garcia (Caisse d'Epargne)
22. Alberto Contador (Astana) @ 1:21
50. Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) @ 5:01



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