Criterium International: Frank Schleck takes first season win on Col de l’Ospedale
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Criterium International: Frank Schleck takes first season win on Col de l’Ospedale

by Shane Stokes at 12:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Critérium International
Leopard Trek rider nets second victory of the day for new team

Frank SchleckShowing that his Grand Tour form is building well, Frank Schleck was best of the big guns on stage one of Critérium International. The Luxembourg road race champion proved strongest on the opening stage of the race, attacking 8.3 kilometres from the finish at the Col de l’Ospedale, being joined by two others, then dropping them with two kilometres to go to solo home.

He rolled across the finish line waving his arms and kissing a medallion around his neck. It marked Leopard Trek’s second win of the day after Fabian Cancellara’s solo triumph in the E3 Prijs.

Russian rider Vasil Kiryienka took second, sixteen seconds back, while the third breakaway rider Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis) was a further six seconds behind. The Spaniard David Lopez (Team Movistar) was best of the rest, sprinting in 58 seconds back, just ahead of Alexandre Geniez (Skil-Shimano).

Schleck’s move followed two other surges on the last climb by his brother Andy. He accelerated twice inside the final nine kilometres, opening a gap but then appearing to ease back and allow the others to rejoin. The reason for the tactic became apparent when Frank Schleck kicked hard shortly afterwards, and drew steadily clear.

The aggressive racing on the final climb put several big names into difficulty. The second and third-placed riders from Paris-Nice, Andreas Klöden (Team RadioShack) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling) were both soon in trouble and conceding ground, while Alexandre Vinokourov (Team Astana) also suffered and went south.

All of those from fifth place back lost at least a minute. Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil-DCM) led in a group containing last year’s race winner Pierrick Fedrigo. The Française des Jeux rider picked up ninth but is clearly not in the same form as twelve months ago. He’ll start tomorrow’s stage one minute and ten seconds back, and has a lot to do.

For now at least, Schleck is in the driving seat. “I am here at Critérium International for an affirmation,” he smiled afterwards, making it clear that he wanted a good showing today. “I wasn’t bad at Paris-Nice and did a check up [of the climb] here on the Monday afterwards. I have trained well in these last two weeks and things went well today. This is a nice victory, the Critérium International is a great race. I am happy.”

His attack was aided by the aforementioned work by his brother, and also by an earlier attack by Leopard-Trek team-mate Jens Voigt. In Voigt's interview with VeloNation’s Bjorn Haake yesterday, he said that he wanted to try to win the race for a record sixth time. He gambled everything on a move before the final climb, opening a gap on the peloton, but was hauled in on the draggy roads with 13 kilometres to go and then lost contact.

Schleck said that winning the stage was important after that. “Jens rode well earlier and this was a very nice victory for Leopard Trek,” he said. “Jens has won the race five times and wanted to take a sixth. That’s why it was important for me to try to do it for him, and for the team.

“I am not a time trial specialist but I am up there and I will do my best. I would be very happy if I can win the race and put it in the palmares of Leopard Trek.”

Aggressive start:

Despite – or perhaps because of – the tough finale, there were many attacks in the early part of the stage. The day’s first intermediate sprint came after 25 kilometres and there Jens Voigt took top points ahead of Mathieu Drujon (Big Mat - Auber 93) and Cédric Pineau (FDJ)

Eleven kilometres later, Yukihiro Doi (Skil – Shimano) was first to the top of the Côte de Roccapina. The second climb at the Cote d’Orasi (km 46.5) went to Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team) while ten kilometres later, bonus sprint number two was taken by Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ).

The day’s big break went away sixty kilometres after the start. It included Cédric Pineau (FDJ), Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM), Julien Fouchard (Cofidis), Thomas Bonnin (Skil-Shimano), Dimitri Champion (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Renaud Dion (Bretagne-Schuller). Twenty kilometres later, they opened a maximum lead of six minutes.

Dion won the prime on the Col de Celaccia (km 82), then Ligthart was best on the Col de St Eustache (km 102.5) and again on the Côte d’Aullene. This acted as a springboard for Voigt, who jumped clear 112 kilometres after the start and closed to within one minute 25 seconds by the top. He caught the leading six riders 13 kilometres later.

Voigt wasn’t happy with the pace being set and after 15 kilometres in the break, he jumped away again. Champion briefly stayed with him, then Voigt pushed on ahead, taking the mountain prime of the Col de Bacinu (km 156.5) one minute 40 seconds ahead of Champion. The peloton was a minute further back, and about to mop up the only other remaining person from the break, Ligthart.

Voigt gobbled up the sprint prime at Porto Vecchio, crossing that line one minute 50 seconds ahead of the next riders, then continued onwards towards the final climb. However the bunch was drawing closer to him and with 13 kilometres to go, Remy Di Gregorio (Astana) clipped away to catch and pass him.

Mountain showdown:

The Paris-Nice stage winner tried to build his lead on the Col de l’Ospedale but had a mere 20 seconds with ten kilometres remaining. He was caught a kilometre later, prompting an immediate attack by Andy Schleck. Di Gregorio’s team-mate Alexandre Vinokourov marked the move, and the rest of the contenders gradually got back in contact. One exception was Bradley Wiggins, who was dropped.

Schleck went again 8.8 kilometres from the line and this time the move looked a little more decisive. His surge was answered by just two riders yet, soon afterwards, the others were able to return. It became obvious he was simply trying to soften up the group when his brother Frank then attacked, being marked by Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis). They worked together, pulling gradually clear of all the others apart from a hard-chasing Vasil Kiryienka (Team Movistar).

With 6.1 kilometres remaining, Samuez Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) surged clear, sending Andreas Klöden (RadioShack) out the back and breaking up the chase group. Vinokourov, Christophe Le Mevel and his Garmin-Cervélo team-mate Ryder Hesjedal were also put into difficulty, conceding ground.

Sanchez was joined by David Garcia (Team Movistar) and Alexandre Geniez (Skil-Shimano), while soon afterwards Kiriyenka got across to Schleck and Taaramäe, making it three up front, three chasing behind, and the other contenders scattered further back. Sanchez would soon crack, though, being caught by those behind and eventually finishing 18th, one minute 48 seconds back.

In contrast, Schleck was feeling better as the climb continued and he attacked with 2.2 kilometres to go. He quickly got a gap, while behind Kiriyenka gapped Taaramäe 1.3 kilometres from the line and would go on to take second, 16 seconds back.

The net effect was a solid gap for Schleck, although with a 75 kilometre morning stage plus a seven kilometre afternoon time trial, he’s still got a battle ahead.


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Critérium International, Corsica (2.HC) Stage 1 Results: Porto-Vecchio - Col de l’Ospedale (198km)

  Click on the arrowsat the top of the column to sort the race results.
Country Result Name Team Time
lux LUX 1 Frank Schleck (Leopard-Trek) 05:21:02
blr BLR 2 Vasil Kiryienka (Movistar) 00:00:16
est EST 3 Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis) 00:00:22
esp ESP 4 David Lopez Garcia (Movistar) 00:00:58
fra FRA 5 Alexandre Geniez (Skil-Shimano) 00:01:00
uzb UZB 6 Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil-DCM) 00:01:09
nor NOR 7 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky) s.t.
fra FRA 8 Pierre Rolland (Europcar) s.t.
fra FRA 9 Pierrick Fedrigo (Française Des Jeux) s.t.
lux LUX 10 Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek) s.t.
fra FRA 11 Cyril Gautier (Europcar) s.t.
can CAN 12 Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervelo) s.t.
esp ESP 13 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Movistar) s.t.
por POR 14 Tiago Machado (RadioShack) s.t.
fra FRA 15 Jean-christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) s.t.
fra FRA 16 Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervelo) 00:01:46
fra FRA 17 Maxime Mederel (Big Mat - Auber 93) s.t.
esp ESP 18 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Euskaltel - Euskadi) 00:01:48
fra FRA 19 Guillaume Levarlet (Saur-Sojasun) 00:02:46
kaz KAZ 20 Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) s.t.
fra FRA 21 Romain Hardy (Bretagne Schuller) s.t.
fra FRA 22 Rémy Di Gregorio (Astana) 00:03:04
ger GER 23 Andréas Klöden (RadioShack) 00:03:27
esp ESP 24 David Arroyo Duran (Movistar) 00:04:34
fra FRA 25 Jérome Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) 00:04:41
usa USA 26 Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Cervelo) 00:04:50
fra FRA 27 Fabrice Jeandesboz (Saur-Sojasun) 00:05:24
fra FRA 28 Anthony Roux (Française Des Jeux) 00:05:47
bel BEL 29 Maxime Monfort (Leopard-Trek) 00:06:37
fra FRA 30 Jonathan Hivert (Saur-Sojasun) 00:06:42
fra FRA 31 Sylvain Calzati (Bretagne Schuller) 00:07:28
ger GER 32 Johannes Frohlinger (Skil-Shimano) s.t.
fra FRA 33 Rémi Pauriol (Française Des Jeux) s.t.
den DEN 34 Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard-Trek) 00:07:29
fra FRA 35 Cédric Pineau (Française Des Jeux) 00:07:58
fra FRA 36 Mathieu Drujon (Big Mat - Auber 93) s.t.
esp ESP 37 Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Euskaltel - Euskadi) s.t.
ned NED 38 Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM) 00:08:10
fra FRA 39 Julien El Fares (Cofidis) 00:08:30
usa USA 40 Matthew Busche (RadioShack) 00:08:41
kaz KAZ 41 Dmitriy Fofonov (Astana) s.t.
gbr GBR 42 Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) s.t.
fra FRA 43 David Lelay (Ag2r-La Mondiale) 00:09:19
fra FRA 44 Arnaud Molmy (Big Mat - Auber 93) 00:09:50
ita ITA 45 Marzio Bruseghin (Movistar) 00:10:17
usa USA 46 David Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervelo) 00:10:20
fra FRA 47 Florian Guillou (Bretagne Schuller) 00:12:54
fra FRA 48 Ludovic Turpin (Saur-Sojasun) s.t.
fra FRA 49 Thierry Hupond (Skil-Shimano) 00:13:13
ned NED 50 Wout Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM) s.t.
fra FRA 51 Guillaume Le Floch (Europcar) 00:13:46
fra FRA 52 Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne Schuller) s.t.
esp ESP 53 Ivan Velasco Murillo (Euskaltel - Euskadi) 00:14:14
ukr UKR 54 Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack) 00:15:17
por POR 55 Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (RadioShack) s.t.
swe SWE 56 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) s.t.
fra FRA 57 Mickael Cherel (Ag2r-La Mondiale) s.t.
fra FRA 58 Tony Gallopin (Cofidis) s.t.
fra FRA 59 Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun) s.t.
fra FRA 60 Dimitri Champion (Ag2r-La Mondiale) s.t.
ger GER 61 Simon Geschke (Skil-Shimano) 00:15:49
fra FRA 62 Yoann Bagot (Cofidis) s.t.
fra FRA 63 Florian Vachon (Bretagne Schuller) 00:16:00
jpn JPN 64 Yukihiro Doi (Skil-Shimano) 00:16:21
slo SLO 65 Gorazd Stangelj (Astana) 00:17:18
esp ESP 66 Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel - Euskadi) 00:17:52
ned NED 67 Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM) 00:18:35
ger GER 68 Fabian Wegmann (Leopard-Trek) 00:18:51
BRA 69 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Garmin-Cervelo) s.t.
por POR 70 Bruno Manuel Silva Pires (Leopard-Trek) s.t.
fra FRA 71 Guillaume Faucon (Big Mat - Auber 93) s.t.
fra FRA 72 Yannick Talabardon (Saur-Sojasun) 00:19:41
fra FRA 73 Jean-marc Marino (Saur-Sojasun) 00:19:43
esp ESP 74 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Euskaltel - Euskadi) 00:20:08
ger GER 75 Jens Voigt (Leopard-Trek) 00:20:17
fra FRA 76 Jérémy Roy (Française Des Jeux) 00:22:11
fra FRA 77 Matthieu Sprick (Skil-Shimano) 00:22:24
fra FRA 78 Tristan Valentin (Cofidis) 00:22:43
esp ESP 79 José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Movistar) 00:24:32
den DEN 80 Anders Lund (Leopard-Trek) 00:24:34
kaz KAZ 81 Sergey Renev (Astana) s.t.
fra FRA 82 Jérôme Cousin (Europcar) s.t.
fra FRA 83 Arnold Jeannesson (Française Des Jeux) s.t.
fra FRA 84 Arnaud Courteille (Française Des Jeux) s.t.
fra FRA 85 Renaud Dion (Bretagne Schuller) s.t.
esp ESP 86 Jesús Lopez Herrada (Movistar) s.t.
fra FRA 87 Perrig Quemeneur (Europcar) 00:25:57
gbr GBR 88 Steven Cummings (Team Sky) 00:27:59
gbr GBR 89 David Millar (Garmin-Cervelo) s.t.
gbr GBR 90 Alex Dowsett (Team Sky) s.t.
ltu LTU 91 Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Cervelo) s.t.
ger GER 92 Christian Knees (Team Sky) s.t.
fra FRA 93 Cyril Dessel (Ag2r-La Mondiale) s.t.
blr BLR 94 Branislau Samoilau (Movistar) s.t.
ita ITA 95 Alberto Ongarato (Vacansoleil-DCM) s.t.
por POR 96 Nelson Oliveira (RadioShack) s.t.
fra FRA 97 Christophe Kern (Europcar) s.t.
fra FRA 98 Dimitri Le Boulch (Big Mat - Auber 93) s.t.
fra FRA 99 John Gadret (Ag2r-La Mondiale) 00:28:24
usa USA 100 Benjamin King (RadioShack) s.t.
usa USA 101 Bjorn Selander (RadioShack) 00:28:34
fra FRA 102 Julien Fouchard (Cofidis) 00:28:47
fra FRA DNF Florent Barle (Cofidis)  
fra FRA DNF Geoffrey Soupe (Française Des Jeux)  
fra FRA DNF Giovanni Bernaudeau (Europcar)  
esp ESP DNF Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Euskaltel - Euskadi)  
fra FRA DNF Jonathan Thire (Big Mat - Auber 93)  
fra FRA DNF Julien Loubet (Ag2r-La Mondiale)  
ger GER DNF Marcel Kittel (Skil-Shimano)  
aus AUS DNS Michael Rogers (Team Sky)  

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