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Criterium International: Jens Voigt for the fourth time!

Added: monday 31 March 2008 at 1:40:00
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    Criterium International: Jens Voigt for the fourth time!This weekend the area around Charleville-Mézières in the Ardennes was the place to be for the Criterium International. A three stage race in two days which together form a very complete race: one flat stage on Saturday, a mountain stage Sunday morning and finally a time trial Sunday afternoon.

    The German Jens Voigt of Team CSC, who already won this Criterium last year, won the race for the fourth time on Sunday: in 1999, 2004, 2007 and now in 2008!
    The Dutch rider Laurens ten Dam of the Rabobank team won the first stage and the green jersey. The polka dot jersey for the best climber went to the Australian Simon Gerrans of Crédit Agricole while the Spaniard Luis Leon Sanchez of Caisse d'Epargne confirmed his good shape by winning the white jersey as the best young rider, followed by Maxime Monfort and Robert Gesink.

    Laurens ten Dam wins the first stage after a long duo/solo escape!

    Laurens ten DamThe 193 kilometer stage between Signy-le-Petit and Charleville-Mézières on Saturday was the playfield for the American Ian McKissick of the BMC team and the Dutch Laurens ten Dam of the Rabobank team.

    The two left the pack after only 2 kilometers and managed to get up to 16 minutes and 50 seconds at kilometer 64. At that time - just after the first intermediate sprint in Sault-les-Rethel - the High Road, Lampre and Française des Jeux teams decided this was becoming serious and that they had to accellerate to try to catch the two leading riders. Benoît VaugrenardIn Le Chesne - at 48 kilometers from the finish - at the last intermediate sprint the two riders are only 7 minutes and 50 seconds ahead of the pack.
    At the rear end of the pack several riders have to let go and at kilometer 170 the American McKissick can no longer follow either, so the Dutch rider continues alone. At that time Laurens ten Dam is only 2 minutes ahead of the pack with still 23 kilometers to go.
    When he passes the top of the Côte de Barbe en Croc at 12,5 kilometers from the finish this has gone down to one and a halve minut and at that time he probably thinks he has lost the stage victory. Not at all, he manages to take it: when he passes the red one kilometer flag he's only 20 seconds ahead of the pack, but that turns out to be enough to win the stage. Finally he does win the stage 23 seconds ahead of the French Benoît Vaugrenard.

    The first stage's top 5:
    1/ Laurens ten Dam (NLD, Rabobank, photo)
    2/ Benoît Vaugrenard (FRA, Française des Jeux, photo)
    3/ Mirco Lorenzetto (ITA, Lampre)
    4/ Jens Voigt (GER, Team CSC)
    5/ Jérôme Pineau (FRA, Bouygues Telecom)

    Second stage: Jens Voigt shows he can do it again and the small Simon Gerrans takes the stage victory

    On Sunday the second stage formed a loop between Les Vieilles Forges (Les Mazures) and Monthermé over 98,5 kilometers. During this stage the riders had to climb no less than 9 mountains.
    Jens VoigtAt the start of the stage the French Clément Lhôtellerie of the Skil Shimano team tried to repeat his trick which worked so well during Paris-Nice by repeatedly attacking right from the first kilometer, especially in the climb of the first two mountains. The other riders however knew what that could lead to and even though his escapes were accompanied by one or more other riders they never let him go.

    The first escape of the day which really managed to get some time ahead of the pack is the one of the German Jens Voigt of Team CSC, the French Sandy Casar of Française des Jeux, the Australian Simon Gerrans of Crédit Agricole and the Italian Mauro Santambrogio of Lampre at kilometer 20. 14 kilometers further, at the top of the Côte de Blossette, the 4 riders already are 1 minute 45 ahead of the pack. A pack of riders which has shrunk to about 50 riders at that time since the others didn't manage to follow because of the difficult mountains and because of the high speed of the Caisse d'Epargne team in front of the pack.

    At kilometer 48, close to Joigny-sur-Meuse, a strike of employees of a local factory is at the origin of a fourty minute break in the race. Despite this break and the accompanying cool down the four escaped riders manage to continue and extend their lead up to 2 minutes and 20 seconds.
    While climbing the Côte du Mont Malgré Tout (what a beautiful name!) Jens Voigt decides to accelerate and manages first to get rid of Sandy Casar followed by Mauro Santambrogio, so he can continue as a duo with Simon Gerrans.

    At 3,5 kilometers from the finish, at the start of the Côte de la Roche aux 7 Villages in Montherme, the two leading riders still have their 2 minute 20 lead on the pack and they continue relaying to keep this lead until 300 meters from the finish. At that point the small Australian accelerates to continue without Voigt and thus take the stage victory, one and a halve minute before the pack crosses the finish line.
    In this way Jens Voigt takes a 1 minute and 14 seconds lead on Laurens ten Dam in the overall ranking and he can thus start the time trial without too much fear for the final victory.

    The second stage's top 5:
    1/ Simon Gerrans (AUS, Crédit Agricole)
    2/ Jens Voigt (GER, Team CSC, photo) at 4"
    3/ Alejandro Valverde (ESP, Caisse d'Epargne) at 1'39"
    4/ Damiano Cunego (ITA, Lampre) at 1'39"
    5/ Jérôme Pineau (FRA, Bouygues Telecom) at 1'39"

    Laurens ten Dam loses his yellow jersey to Jens Voigt but keeps the green jersey; Simon Gerrans takes the polka dot jersey and Luis Leon Sanchez the white jersey.

    The Norvegian Esvald Boasson Hagen surprises everyone but Jens Voigt keeps his yellow jersey

    Luis Leon SanchezThe last part of this race was the time trial in the streets of Charleville-Mézières over 8,3 kilometers.

    The last part of this two day race took place under a pouring rain ... the riders thus had to be careful to be sure not to fall in the slippery streets of Charleville-Mézières.
    That's what the Belgian Steven Kleynen of Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner did: at the last spot of the overall ranking he was the first to start, but he didn't manage to put a first time on the time registration system, since he was overtaken by the French Dimitri Champion of Bouygues Telecom during the stage. Adam Hansen of Team High Road starts a few minutes later and beats the best time so far with 1'12".
    His team mate Tony Martin improves this time with another 16 seconds before being beaten himself by 7 seconds by yet another team mate: the Norvegian Edvald Boasson Hagen - Norvegian time trial champion - who apparently doesn't get disturbed by the weather or otherwise simply ignores it while doing his time trial.

    Jens Voigt finishes 43rd at 52 seconds but didn't have to fear for his yellow jersey which he keep with 57 seconds ahead on his Team CSC team mate Gustav Larsson and on the best young rider, Luis Leon Sanchez of Caisse d'Epargne.

    During the time trial the Spaniard Luis Leon Sanchez (photo) did wear the white jersey, but at that time he still shared the first place with the Belgian Maxime Monfort of Cofidis who had exactly the same time. The time trial gave a 6 seconds difference between the two young riders who stay number 1 and 2 in the young riders overall ranking ahead of the Dutch Robert Gesink who finishes at 26 seconds.

    The Dutch Laurens ten Dam won the green jersey with 24 points, 9 more than the 2nd, 3rd and 4th, Simon Gerrans, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Benoît Vaugrenard.
    Simon Gerrans wins the polka dot jersey thanks to his escape in the second stage with 26 points, 14 more than Jens Voigt.

    by Thomas Vergouwen
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    this article appears in the following categories: Cycling general (except Tour de France)| Critérium International | share on Facebook | delicious | twitter | Google | technorati


Currently 2 comments!
  1. Un vrai barroudeur Jens Voigt , depuis le temps qu il est sur un vélo !!! Je ne me rappele pas s il a gané une étape sur le tour de France ? Il avait gagné le Dauphiné libéré il me semble .A+ Thomas bonne journée

    | Liserois | tuesday 01 April 2008 at 6:53:28

  2. Un vrai comme tu le dis et il faut croire que le Criterium International c'est vraiment son truc !!

    Il a gagné deux étapes du Tour de France déjà : sa première en 2001 et sa deuxième 5 ans plus tard, en 2006 il a gagné la 13ième étape dans un beau duel avec Oscar Pereiro Sio qu'il a finalement réussi à gagner ... C'était chaud (et donc beau à voir !) parce qu'ils étaient plus que deux échappés et après une première tentative sans succès Jens Voigt à réussi à se débarasser d'Oscar Pereiro à 150/200 mètres de l'arrivée et il a gagné l'étape avec une longueur de vélo d'avance ...

    Sur le Dauphiné il a seulement gagné une étape en 2001, mais il a par contre gagné le Tour d'Allemagne en 2006 et 2007 (les deux fois devant Levi Leipheimer).

    à bientôt !

    | Thomas Vergouwen | thursday 03 April 2008 at 0:07:39

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