Cycling: Lance Armstrong to race in Criterium International
By GREG KELLER
Associated Press Writer
PARIS — Lance Armstrong will take on world road cycling champion Cadel Evans and Olympic gold medalist Samuel Sanchez in next month’s Criterium International in Corsica.
Armstrong’s Team Radioshack, Evans’ BMC Racing Team and Sanchez’s Euskaltel-Euskadi are among the top Pro Tour teams scheduled to line up at the start in Porto Vecchio on March 27, race director Christian Prudhomme said Tuesday.
The Criterium International is raced in three stages over two days — a medium mountain stage Saturday, and a flat stage and short individual time trial Sunday. This year’s race will be the first major professional race held in Corsica since the last Tour of Corsica was run in 1982.
Seven-time Tour de France champion Armstrong is returning to the race for the first time since he placed third in 2004. He finished second in 2002 behind Spaniard Jose Martinez.
Armstrong’s current main rival, reigning Tour de France champion and former teammate Alberto Contador, is not scheduled to participate in the event.
Last year’s winner, Jens Voigt of Saxo Bank, will not defend his title.
Corsica is a candidate to host the “grand depart” of the 100th Tour de France in 2013, and hosting the Criterium International is seen by some observers as a trial run for that. Prudhomme said the two races were so different that no conclusions could be drawn.
“The Tour is so much bigger” than the Criterium International, said Prudhomme, whose Amaury Sport Organization runs both races.
The race’s mountain stage on Saturday will feature two big climbs, including the finish atop the Col de l’Ospedale, a nine mile ascent with an average grade of seven percent. The race finishes March 28 with a 47 mile flat stage and a five mile individual time trial.