Chris Froome wins Criterium International in Impressive SKY One-Two

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Chris Froome, last year’s runner-up in Tour de France behind team-captain Bradley Wiggins, kept his impressive form in Criterium International winning the queen stage of this mini-tour, the mountain-top finish in Col De l’Ospedale.

SKY took the charge as the riders started climbing the Col De l’Ospedale, Vasil Kiryienka putting a great effort and shaking the peloton down to 20 riders. And with 6 kilometers to go, IAM Cycling’s Johann Tschopp escaped and eventually dropped Kiryienka. But it was Chris Froome destroying the field with his solo attack, later followed by Paris-Nice champion Richie Porte, who finished the stage in second place. Despite huge expectations, BMC’s Tejay van Garderen only managed to grab the last podium spot thanks to his time-trial performance in stage 2.

SKY once again dominated the climb and spread fear amongst their rivals as the grand tours are approaching.

“It wasn’t my intention to attack so early on in the climb but Richie sat off a little bit and gave me a gap and no one chased,” Froome said about his attack. “So I pushed on a bit knowing that he could stay protected behind other wheels, which allowed him to attack in the final couple of kilometres himself. So we couldn’t have asked for better”

Final Kilometers

Final General Classification

1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 6:55:23
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 32″
3. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 54″
4. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 1′ 00″
5. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
6. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 1′ 08″
7. Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 1′ 33″
8. Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ 1′ 37″
9. Johann Tschopp (Swi) IAM Cycling 1′ 43″
10. John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 2′ 05″

Stage 3 Results

1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 4:43:38
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 30″
3. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 45″
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Criterium International 2013 Stage 3 Preview

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Featuring six categorized climbs, and ending atop the first-category l’Ospedale summit, Criterium Internatinal’s third and final stage will be the decider of this year’s winner.

Last year, on the same stage, it was Cadel Evans defending his yellow jersey after his Stage 2 TT victory, and in 2011 when it was the opening stage of Criterium International, Frank Schleck won it with a 20 seconds margin.

Team Sky’s Richie Porte and Chris Froome, BMC’s Cadel Evans and Tejay Van Garderen, Garmin-Sharp’s Andrew Talansky and AG2R’s Jean-Christophe Peraud will be the main riders to watch on the l’Ospedale climb.

GC Before Stage 3

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 2:11:53
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

Col de l’Ospedale Profile

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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 – Race Report

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Despite losing the top dogs to Tirreno-Adriatico, this year’s Paris-Nice was once again full of drama. We saw the maillot jaune crash and quit, SKY’s dominance on the climbs and a classicist in top form early in March.

The race started with a very short prolog, won by Europcar’s Damien Gaudin – a big surprise for everyone, even within the pelaton. Next day, in French road champion colors Nacer Bouhani won the opening sprint stage, but unfortunately later crashed and had to quit the race, this time wearing the yellow jersey. Argos’ German sprinter Marcel Kittel later won sprint frenzy in Stage 2.

As the climbs starting to appear one after the other, the general classification started to shape up. In Stage 3, Garmin’s American rider Andrew Talanksy stepped in to the maillot jaune after winning from a successful breakaway that formed on the ascent of Cote de Mauvagnat. Michael Albasini won Stage 4 while Talansky managed to keep his jersey the day after.

As we approached the queen stage of the race, Talanksy was leading the GC only by 3 seconds, and a record number of 6 riders were following him all under 10 seconds behind. It was Richie Porte attacking to the yellow jersey, thanks to SKY’s climbing lieutenants. Porte kept his lead in the 6th stage, which was won by Sylvain Chavanel in sensational fashion.

As we approach the decisive time trial on the ascent of Col d’Eze, Porte was leading with 32 seconds which proved to be more than enough as he won the stage 17 seconds ahead of runner up Andrew Talansky. Jean-Christophe Peraud moved to the last spot of the podium with his last day performance, moving on top of Chavanel and last year’s runner-up Lieuwe Westra.

Sylvain Chavanel won the points classification, Johann Tschopp of IAM Cycling won the mountains classification whereas runner-up Talanksy finished on top of young riders’ classification and won the white jersey. It was Katusha, leading the teams classification with 4 riders in the top 30.

General Classification

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 29:59:47
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 55″
3. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 1′ 21″
4. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 1′ 44″
5. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 1′ 47″
6. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha 1′ 48″
7. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 1′ 54″
8. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 2′ 17″
9. Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard 2′ 22″
10. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 2′ 28″

Points Classification

1. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 88 pts
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 83 pts
3. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 68 pts

Mountains Classification

1. Johann Tschopp (Swi) IAM Cycling 64 pts
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 27 pts
3. Thierry Hupond (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano 24 pts

Young Rider Classification

1. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 30:00:42
2. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 49″
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 59″

Teams Classification

1. Katusha 90:06:49
2. Ag2R La Mondiale 1′ 23″
3. RadioShack Leopard 3′ 38″

Porte became the first Australian champion of Paris-Nice

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Richie Porte of Team SKY retained his yellow jersey on the up-hill time-trial in Col d’Eze. Porte was 32 seconds ahead of his closest rival, American Andrew Talansky, and extended his lead to 55 seconds at the end of the day. Talansky, finished the stage second and grabbed the second place on the podium and kept the young rider’s classification jersey. AG2R’s Jean-Christophe Peraud finished the stage at fourth place, but the time difference was enough to bring him to the last podium spot.

Stage six winner Sylvain Chavanel finished seventh, good enough to finish Paris-Nice leading the points classification and Johann Tschopp of IAM Cycling already had the mountain classification lead.

“I can’t believe it. It’s just an honor to have my name up there with Bradley Wiggins, Tony Martin, all the big champions,” said Porte. “I’m still doing my apprenticeship, and I’m still learning off Bradley and Chris. I don’t expect to go to the Tour and ride for general classification. I’m in a good place at the moment and I don’t want to change anything. I’m going to take it as it comes. Whatever happens we’re gonna have a hell of a team for the Tour de France.”

Richie Porte finished the stage in 19′ 16″, 1 minute 40 seconds faster compared to his last year’s performance where he was working as a domestic for Bradley Wiggins, only 6 seconds slower than Wiggins’ last year performance. This simply proves how mental time-trialling is, if you have too much to lose, you simply do astonishing things.

Final General Classification

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 29:59:47
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 55″
3. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 1′ 21″
4. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 1′ 44″
5. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 1′ 47″
6. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha 1′ 48″
7. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 1′ 54″
8. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 2′ 17″
9. Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard 2′ 22″
10. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 2′ 28″

Stage 7 Results

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:19:16
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 0′ 23″
3. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0′ 27″
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Paris-Nice 2013 Preview – Stage 7

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With Richie Porte just 32 seconds clear of Andrew Talansky and a bunch of other riders, Sunday’s conclusive stage on 10th March will be simply breathtaking. Last year, it was Bradley Wiggins defending his 2 seconds lead over Lieuwe Westra, extending it to 6 at the end of the day and starting a sensational season which brought TdF and Olympic gold and eventually made him the athlete of the year in Britain.

Now, an another rider from SKY, Tasmanian Richie Porte will be riding on the uphill Col d’Eze time-trial where many riders will again opt in to use regular road bikes with clip-on bars installed instead of TT bikes. Richie Porte was also riding in 2012′s Paris-Nice, as a domestic to Bradley Wiggins, and finished the last stage in 20′ 56″. Which was 1′ 42″ slower than last year’s runner-up Liuewe Westra, who now stands in 4th place, 42 seconds behind Porte in GC. Jean-Christophe Peraud, who is now fifth in GC standing 49 seconds behind, finished 3rd last year, which was 1′ 11″ faster than Porte. Sylvain Chavanel finished last year’s stage in 17th place, still 18 seconds ahead of Porte, and he is in top form.

GC before Stage 8

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 29:40:31
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 32″
3. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 42″
4. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
5. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 49″
6. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 52″
7. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 53″
8. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha
9. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 54″
10. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team 1′ 08″

Paris-Nice 2013 Preview – Stage 6

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“The race to the sun” will accomplish its goal on 9th March, Saturday, arriving Nice after this year’s second mountain stage. There was a mountain-top finish in the 5th stage and Team Sky’s Richie Porte attacked to victory and the yellow jersey.

The race starts from Manosque, on the slopes of a 3rd category climb, which is perfect conditions for a breakaway group to start  early on. Every team with hopes in the GC will try to control the race and expect them to send at least a rider to the break, including SKY. Thomas Voeckler and Thomas De Gendt may also try to win a stage, if the break gets caught on the combined category 1-climbs expect a new breakaway to form on the ascent of Col du Ferrier.

The stage is quite similar to 2011′s Brignoles – Biot-Sophia Antipolis stage, which was won by Remy di Gregorio after a 20 kilometers solo break.

Richie Porte Attacks into Yellow in Stage 5

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Team Sky lead the peloton on top La Montagne de Lure, getting it thinner and thinner every second. They were down to 40 riders when Jens Voigt from the break got caught, and down to 15 with 2 kilometers to go. Yellow jersey holder Andrew Talansky made a couple of unsuccessful attempts but it was Sky’s long-time domestic Richie Porte‘s break that shaped the podium. With 1.3 kilometers to go, Porte surged ahead of Talansky, caught Denis Menchov of Katusha who finished the stage second later on, and rode solo the rest of the way.

Porte finished the stage 26 seconds ahead of Menchov and an another 7 seconds clear from the rest of the contenders including Talansky and last year’s runner-up Lieuwe Westra, and now leads the GC with 32 seconds. “I’ve done an apprenticeship if you like under Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome and also before that Alberto Contador,” told Porte after his first win over a year. “You don’t always get the opportunity to ride for yourself in a team like this so when it comes you have to grab it with both hands. It’s just nice to get a big victory and I’ll take the rest as it comes.”

Andrew Talansky is now in green jersey, leading points classification and young riders’ general classification. An another American rider Teejay Van Garderen of BMC will be wearing the white jersey. Thierry Hupond was on the breakaway group and collected 24 mountain points but came short of Johann Tschopp of IAM Cycling who still leads the Mountains jersey with 31 points.

GC after Stage 5

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 24:26:08
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin Sharp 32″
3. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 42″
4. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 49″
5. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 52″
6. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team 53″
7. Simon Spilak (Slo) Team Katusha
8. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 54″
9. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
10. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team 56″

Stage 5 Results

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 4′ 50′ 54″
2. Denis Menchov (Rus) Team Katusha 26″
3. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin Sharp 33″
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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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