© A.S.O. - P. Perreve
The story begins in 1932, in the heart of a region in the Chevreuse Valley that was not yet called the "Ile-de-France". Neither, for that matter, was the Critérium labelled "international", eighty years ago – times were different.
It is clear that the adventure the Corsicans brought to the challenge marked the beginning of a new era. The challenge remains that of a demanding selection, conducted in three stages, over the course of which must emerge a complete cyclist, able to withstand the assaults of his rivals on the flat, on the slopes or against the clock.
But when it crossed the Mediterranean, the competition became a veritable odyssey. The images and sensations of the leading riders clinging to the steep hills of southern Corsica, hurtling along the beaches of nearby Porto Vecchio or above the plunging cliffs of Bonifacio, won the hearts of viewers and riders alike. They also symbolised a leap forward – the first games along the ascent towards the Ospedale in 2010 afforded clear proof of the need to take the riders to the Island of Beauty, as Corsica is known, for the best race in the world – the Tour de France. This will indeed happen in 2013, but for now the focus of the champions is on making their mark in the Critérium International. To heighten the suspense, the medium mountain stage has been moved to the conclusion of the triptych. The winners of the Ospedale will certainly be better prepared than most for the centennial Tour.