Theo Bos Wins Opening Sprint, Richie Porte into Race Lead

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In the first day of the Criterium International, we had 2 back-to-back stages. A 89.5 km sprint stage around Porto-Vecchio early in the morning, and a 7 km time-trial afterwards.

Blanco’s Theo Bos won the bunch sprint of the first stage, where Nacer Bouhanni of FDJ came second and Team Sax0-Tinkoff’s Jonathan Cantwell finished the stage in third place.

In the second event of the day, the 7km flat time-trial, SKY’s Paris-Nice winner Richie Porte was the fastest and grabbed the yellow jersey before the final stage of the race, featuring six categorized climbs, and ending atop the first-category l’Ospedale summit.

“We came in with Froomey as our leader and he’s a great friend, so if he’s got good legs tomorrow and I don’t then I’ll be more than happy to ride for him,” told Porte. “Obviously, I’d like to finish the job off if I can, but as long as Team Sky win tomorrow it’ll be a great day and we’ll all be happy. Right now I just want to enjoy the moment, and the fact that I have one more lion to add to the collection (laughs). I’m really happy on this team and in a really good place.”

Check out Criterium International Stage 3 Preview.

Criterium International, formerly known as Criterium National de la Route is a 2-day race in Corsica, first held in 1932. It was a French-only race before it was open to non-French cyclists in 1979. Emile IdeeRaymond Poulidor and Jens Voigt share the record of most wins with 5 each whereas BMC’s Cadel Evans is the winner of its 2012 edition.

Stage 1 Results

1. Theo Bos (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 2:02:43
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ
3. Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
4. Clément Koretzky (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
5. Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
6. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Sojasun
7. Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar
8. Yannick Martinez (Fra) La Pomme Marseille
9. Fabien Schmidt (Fra) Sojasun
10. Justin Jules (Fra) La Pomme Marseille

Stage 2 Results

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 9:10
2. Manuele Boaro (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 1″
3. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
4. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 2″
5. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 7″
6. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
7. Bob Jungels (Lux) RadioShack Leopard
8. Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard 9″
9. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 11″
10. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team

Paris-Nice 2013 Preview – Stage 2

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Quite similar to the first stage, Stage 2 starting on 5th March, Tuesday is a flat course that favors sprinters for more than anyone else. Nacer Bouhanni, Elia Viviani, Alessandro Petacchi and Jens Debusschere showed that they are in form. Marcel Kittel missed the sprint in Stage 1; pelaton split into two and the group he got stuck with couldn’t catch up. He won the first sprint stage of Tour of Oman in front of pretty much the same sprinters that were in the field today; so this time, I don’t think Argos-Shimano will make the same mistake again and got stuck behind. Orica Greenedge managed to do a very good job with their sprint train, it was a pity Leigh Howard failed to respond in time, this time they’ll be more careful with the positioning and maybe with Michael Matthews instead.

The stage will start in Vimory, a small village near Montargis and after 200.5 kms of pedaling straight to the south, we’ll end up in an another small village Cérilly in Allier. The intermediate sprints are interesting, one very close to the start and the other just before the actual sprint. Sprint teams can show some interest this time both for the green jersey points and time bonuses.

Both the green and yellow jerseys can change hands after the stage. It is a slightly uphill finish but don’t think it’ll be steep enough for anyone other than the pure sprinters to have a chance in here.

Bouhanni outsprinted opponents in Paris-Nice Stage 1

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Orica Greenedge worked very hard in the final kilometers for their Australian sprinter Leigh Howard but it was FDJ’s Nacer Bouhanni outsprinting Alessandro Petacchi of Lampre and Elia Viviani from Cannondale. Bouhanni was “less than” 10 seconds slower than Gaudin in the prologue and with the 10 second time bonus, he is now the proud owner of the yellow jersey.

Sylvain Chavanel failed to finish the bunch sprint with a podium spot, but still got 9 points for the sprinters qualification. With so much sprinters in good form, he may as well say goodbye to the green jersey tuesday evening. Bertjan Lindeman of Vacansoleil was in the escape group today and also the first to cross both the intermediate sprints and the single mountain gate. He wears the mountains jersey and is guaranteed to keep it tomorrow as well since there is not a single categorized climb.

Movistar’s GC contender Rui Costa failed to finish the stage after crashing and possibly breaking his wrist, alongside Jure Kocjan of Euskatel and Pierrick Fedrigo of FDJ due to illness. Also during the final kilometers, due to cross-wind, minor accidents and increasing pace, the pelation is split into two, resulted Marcel Kittel to miss the sprint and Tom Boonen to lose very valuable time.

Results:

1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ 4:47:24
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
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Paris-Nice 2013 Preview – Stage 1

paris-nice-stage1-profile

The first “real” stage of Paris Nice starts from Saint-Germain-en-Laye and ends in Nemours on March 4, Monday; traveling along the outskirts of Paris.

It will be a typical sprint day, where a breakaway group kept carefully at distance by sprint teams and got eventually caught within the last 20 kilometers, where a bunch sprint then is unavoidable. Marcel Kittel of Argos-Shimano, Mark Renshaw of Blanco and Nacer Bouhanni of FDJ are the best sprinters in the pelaton and don’t think a last-5 km break from Chavanel or a sprint effort from Boonen could make things different.

There will be time bonuses both in the intermediate sprints and at the stage finish, so expect one of the sprinters to wear the yellow jersey at the end of the stage.

Paris-Nice 2013 – Riders’ List

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Besides the now “19″ pro tour teams, 4 teams are invited with wildcards: Cofidis, IAM Cycling, Sojasun and Team Europcar.

Bradley Wiggins will not be racing to defend his title, and looks like SKY will be aiming for stage wins with the likes of Richie Porte and Jonathan Tiernan-Locke instead of a solid GC attempt. With the big names of the pelaton missing, by the looks of it  it’ll be an open race for the yellow jersey.

Last year’s runner up Luewa Westra is back, but lacking last year’s form so far. Thomas De Gendt will also be riding for Vacansoleil though not sure he is in good shape, which can be said also for Blanco’s Robert Gesink. TJ van Garderen from BMC, Rui Costa of Movistar and FDJ’s Jean-Christophe Peraud should be taken very seriously for the overall classification. Watch for Nacer Bouhanni and Marcel Kittel for the sprints and with 2 stages particularly suitable for breakaway groups, we can expect a stage win from the likes of Simon Gerrans, Tom Boonen, Philippe Gilbert and even the grueling Thomas Voeckler if he has the legs for it.

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