Stars line up for Criterium International

Some of the top riders who will be targetting the Tour de France this summer will line up at another

Some of the top riders who will be targetting the Tour de France this summer will line up at another

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

Some of the sport's top stars will line up for the Criterium International two-day, three-stage race this weekend, led by defending champion Bobby Julich.

The American will be able to count on strong support from his CSC squad, including former Criterium International winner Jens Voigt (1999 and 2004), Frank Schleck and Giro and Tour favourite Ivan Basso.

Vuelta champion Denis Menchov leads the Dutch Rabobank formation, while Jorg Jaksche will be the star name for the Liberty Seguros-Wurth team.

Based around the town of Charleville Mezieres in the north-east of France, the riders face a tough 192km stage on Saturday - which will likely end in a bunch sprint - before the climbers get their chance on Sunday morning with a 100km stage that finishes in the hills of nearby Monthermes.

On Sunday afternoon, it's back to Charleville Mezieres where an 8.3km individual time trial will decide the overall winner.

Other names to watch out for will be man-of-the-moment Floyd Landis of Phonak, fresh from wins at the Tour of California and Paris-Nice, who will decide whether he'll ride the Giro on the basis of his performance at Criterium International, and Francaise des Jeux's Aussie Brad McGee, who was obliged to miss the Commonwealth Games owing to his European commitments.

Stages:

Stage 1, Saturday March 25: Sedan-Charleville Mezieres, 192km
Stage 2, Sunday March 26: Les Vieilles Forges (Les Mazures)-Montherme, 101km
Stage 3, Sunday March 26: Charleville Mezieres (individual time trial), 8.3km
Total: 301.3km

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