Sky's Downing takes sprint in second Critérium International stage
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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sky's Downing takes sprint in second Critérium International stage

by Bjorn Haake at 5:17 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Critérium International

Russel Downing took the sprint in the short, 75km stage two of the Critérium International. Overall leader Pierrick Fédrigo finished third to take two more bonus seconds. He now leads Tiago Machado by 17 seconds and  Samuel Sánchez by 23 seconds. Time trial specialist Cadel Evans lies in fourth, 27 seconds back.  Fédrigo's Bbox Bouygues Telecom teammate Pierre Rolland secured the mountain jersey.

Downing did exactly what he set out to do. "I came here to win this stage and I did it," he said after the stage. "In the final, my teammates worked for me and then in the last kilometer I followed the Columbia train. I wanted to pass on the outside, but then I realized that it was windy there. So I shifted down, re-adjusted and then accelerated in the end."

The racers will have a short rest before tackling the 7.7-kilometer time trial. The first rider will go off roughly two and  half hours after the stage two finish.

For Downing, a former Tour of Ireland winner, it was a great start at Team Sky, the  biggest team he has been on since his start with Team Brite Pro Team in 1998.

With a double stage, the start was given unusually early for a professional race - the peloton rolled out shortly after nine in the morning. That felt like eight o'clock for the riders, as the clock was switched forward one hour overnight.

Nonetheless, early attacks showed that people were awake and after seven kilometers a group of six had a 15-second advantage.  Dmitriy Fofonov (Astana), Jussi Veikkanen (Française des Jeux), Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Thierry Huppond (Skil-Shimano), Renaud Dion (Roubaix Lille Metropole) and Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez (Bretagne-Schuller) worked well together and established a gap of about a minute after 20 kilometers.

The only climb of the day was the Pagliaggiolo, a three-kilometer rise at three percent after 24 kilometers.  Dion took it ahead of Martinez and Veikannen. That order gave Pierre Rolland (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), who was in the peloton behind, the polka-dot jersey.

The peloton, led by Bouygues Telecom and RadioShack, left the gap at around a minute. After the 20km banner was passed, the bunch picked up speed and quickly reduced the distance to the break. Sky and HTC Columbia came to the front as well, to set things up for a sprint.

The six front runners were reeled in with seven kilometers to go.

Results stage 2

1. Russel Downing (Sky)
2. Michael Albasini (HTC)
3. Pierrick Fédrigo (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)

General classification after stage 2

1. Pierrick Fédrigo (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)
2. Tiago Machado (RadioSHack) at 0'17
3. Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) at 0'23
4. Cadel Evans (BMC) at 0'27


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