Same again for Criterium International

Pro cycling's shortest stage race, the Criterium International, will once again be based on the Fren

Pro cycling’s shortest stage race, the Criterium International, will once again be based on the Fren

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM ASO have revealed route details of the Criterium International mini-stage race, which is based once again on the town of Charleville Mzires in north-east France and takes place over the weekend of March 26/27. The only notable change to what has become the standard formula is that Saturday’s long and hard road stage through the French Ardennes starts in the town of Vouziers. Sunday’s split stage features a short road stage in the morning and a time trial in Charleville Mzires in the afternoon. Race organiser Jean-Marie Leblanc is an enthusiastic supporter of this shortest of stage races. “It endeavours to place all riders on an equal footing, whether time trial specialists, established climbers or sprinters,” says Leblanc. “Although lacking any special magical ingredient, the formula has worked magnificently for the last 20 years and each edition climaxes with an intense finale and a winner who is beyond dispute the best all-round cyclist of the moment.” Last year the race was won by CSC’s Jens Voigt and drew a strong field, including Lance Armstrong, who finished third. Although not part of the ProTour, no less than 13 of the top level teams have committed themselves to the event: CSC, Euskaltel, Illes Balears, Saunier Duval, Bouygues Tlcom, Crdit Agricole, Cofidis, Francaise des Jeux, Gerolsteiner, T-Mobile, Liquigas, Rabobank and Phonak. Joining them will be Landbouwkrediet,, Comunitat Valenciana, Ag2r, Agritubel, RAGT and Panaria. The stages: Saturday 26th March, 1st stage: Vouziers-Charleville Mzires, 187km Sunday 27th March, 2nd stage: Les Vieilles Forges-Montherm: 98.5km 3rd stage: Individual Time Trial at Charleville Mzires, 8.3km