The discipline of cycling comes in a variety of styles; a rider discovers his speciality in the environment that best befits his physical qualities, a more or less aggressive temperament, or a capacity to integrate a collective body. The variants plainly demonstrate that spirit and vigour, in close and constant association with a certain strategic subtlety, are the key to achieving a consistent performance on a bicycle. The Critérium International specifically tests riders capable of maintaining a steady focus in an exceedingly challenging competition, with vastly divergent performances required in each of the " tests ". Contenders naturally rely on their personal strengths in order to triumph, but it is also in dominating their weaknesses that they can attain their objective: a hard hitter must also be able to sprint, and never before has a sprinter so urgently needed to " hammer the hill climbs ".
The winners' list also illustrates, in the form of an almost comprehensive list of the cycling legend, the exceptional talent required to triumph in this race. Zoetemelk, Hinault, Fignon, Kelly, Roche, Indurain, Boardman, Jalabert, Brochard, Julich and Voigt are masters in the art: the start of season triptych race provides an opportunity for a preliminary review of the strengths present among the world elite.
For the ninth time in a row the Critérium will take place in Charleville-Mézières, on the routes of the Ardennes region, 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 Criterium certain of participating in an intense three-act show. The stage race, launched for the first time from Monthois, traditionally ends with a sprint 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 time trial, that the final verdict will be given. The finishing line, marked out in the magnificent setting of the Place Ducale, will make no allowances for latecomers.
Director of the Tour de France