The yellow jersey awarded to the winner of the Critérium International is a prize item in an exclusive and elite range of bike gear, a “glitter of gold” among a rider’s array of accessories. Custom-made for gentlemen, it fi ts only perfectly sculpted fi gures and to wear it requires consistencyas much as strategy and power. In a word, the three-piece outfit befits only the most stylish of champions. On the Critérium International riders can be rewarded for courage and spirit in performance, subject to their ability to withstand the tightly packed programme of the week-end. This is why all-round sprinters always succeed in this competition.
The winners’ list also illustrates, in the form of an almost comprehensive list of the cycling legend, the vigour required to stand out in this race. Zoetemelk, Hinault, Fignon, Kelly, Roche, Indurain, Boardman, Jalabert, Brochard, Julich and Voigt have mastered it: the start of season triptych race provides an opportunity for a preliminary review of the strengths present among the world elite.
For the eighth time in a row the Critérium will take place in Charleville-Mézières, on the roads of the Ardennes region of France which lend themselves perfectly to the spirit of the event. Enthusiastically acclaimed with fervour each year by a devoted public of connoisseurs, racers return to the Critérium certain of participating in an intense three-act show. The fi rst stage, launched for the fi rst time from Signy-le-Petit, is traditionally reserved for sprinters with a finish in Charleville-Mézières. The hill stage, the difficulties of which correspond to attackers as well as to climbers, promises a radical selection. It is then on the streets of the town, in a short and technical timetrial, that the fi nal verdict will be given. The fi nishing line, marked out in the magnificent setting of the Place Ducale, will make no allowances for latecomers.
Director of the Tour de France