Fedrigo clinches Critérium International; Millar wins finale
Pierrick Fedrigo (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) wins the Critérium International.
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France’s Pierrick Fedrigo (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) won the Critérium International on Sunday after Briton David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) took the third and final stage, a 7.7km time trial.
The 31-year-old Fedrigo, who won Saturday’s first stage, topped the overall standings by 14 seconds. Australia’s Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia), third in the time trial, finished second overall with Portugal’s Tiago Machado (Team RadioShack) rounding out the podium in third.
This was the first win of the season for Fedrigo, who has two Tour de France stage victories to his name.
Tour de France champion Alberto Contador (Astana) took second in the race against the clock through the streets of Porto Vecchio, two seconds behind Millar.
Astana team director Yvon Sanquer conceded that the overall result was disappointing, blaming allergies for Contador’s performance. The Spaniard finished 15th overall at 1:08.
“It’s a pity that Alberto wasn’t at 100 percent to try and do something in the final stage,” he said. “However, one shouldn’t over-dramatize. It just shows that he is human after all. He was ambitious but there were lots of others who also wanted to win. There was also another priority and that was his health. It wasn’t a total waste of time racing here.”
Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong (Team RadioShack), who had admitted before the start that he was not in the form to make much of an impression in Corsica, was never in contention after finishing 50th in the first stage. He crossed 15th in the finale, 19 seconds behind Millar, and finished 47th overall at 5:05.
Alain Gallopin, one of the team directors at Armstrong’s RadioShack team, took satisfaction from Contador’s uncomfortable day in the saddle on Saturday.
“The fact that Lance wasn’t up among the leaders isn’t a surprise for us,” said Gallopin. “The chief memory to take out of this race is the failure of Contador, which no one could possibly have predicted.”
Armstrong, too, had a bad day in the mountains on Saturday, finishing nearly five minutes down on the stage winner. But Gallopin was unconcerned.
“We didn’t think he would be so far behind in Saturday’s mountain stage,” said Gallopin. “Once he saw he couldn’t go with the leaders, he eased up. If he had finished two minutes or four minutes off the winner, it wouldn’t have changed anything. Lance knows very well what it takes to be ready for the Tour. Lance will turn up at the start of the Tour in his best form. He needs to do several stages in the mountains, timed ones in order to get a proper idea of where he is.”
As for Millar, he was delighted at his performance in the final stage and thanked teammate Christian Vande Velde, who he said was his “TT coach from afar today.”
“After I messed up the Paris-Nice prologue by over-strategizing it he took it upon himself to take charge. His words of advice were, ‘controlled panic.’ So that’s what I did, just rode like a loony,” said Millar. “I’m very happy, I feel that the team is starting to come into its stride and am sure the next few weeks are going to see us at the front racing at our best.”