After capturing his first victory of the season yesterday on the individual time-trial, Cadel Evans went on to keep his overall leader’s yellow jersey on the day’s mountain stage and wins this 81st edition of the Criterium International on Corsican soil. Frenchman Pierrick Fedrigo captured the final stage of the event at the Col de l’Ospedale.
Sunshine on South Corsica for the start of the final day of the race. The 120 remaining riders were to take on a very demanding mountain stage with five climbs including the final one up to the Col de l’Ospedale after 179kms.
The riders took off just after 10:00 by the sea in Porto Vecchio. Despite quite a few attempts, the first real break occurred in the first difficulty of the day: the Col de Bacinu. Three men indeed managed to take off convincingly: Bennett (RNT), Talansky (GRM) and Montaguti (ALM). At the top of the climb (km 22), Montaguti led the way in front of Bennett and Talansky as the escapees enjoyed a 40" advantage over counter-attacking man Vogondy (COF) and 3’40 over the pack. The gap remained the same over Vogondy at the top of the Côte de Levie (km 37) while the pack remained 4’30 adrift. Again, Montaguti made it first to the summit.
Vogondy eventually caught the front men on the downhill portion and the leaders enjoyed a 5’ gap at the top of the Côte d’Arbellara where Montaguti captured the most mountain points. Their lead grew to 5’40 at the top of the Côte de Sartene.
From then on, the gap dropped down as the BMC team of yellow jersey Cadel Evans really took on the chase. At the first intermediate sprint (km 100) captured by Talansky ahead of Bennett and Montaguti, the peloton was 4’30 adrift. In trouble Talansky, eventually dropped out of the front group and was caught by the pack just after the second bonus sprint (km 111) claimed by Bennett in front of Vogondy and Montaguti. The pack was then 4’25 behind.
The third sprint of the day was won by Vogondy ahead of Montaguti and Bennett as the pack moved dangerously closer, at 1’10. It was then Bennett’s turn to drop behind. He was caught at km 163.
Fifteen kilometres from the line, the leading two still had a 40" advantage. Vogondy was finally the last to survive but was caught by the hungry pack at km 167. In the first kilometres of the final climb to the Col de l’Ospedale, Alexandre Geniez (PRO) powered away. His move allowed him to have a 15" lead with 5kms to go on a group of 20 or so favourites but without title holder Frank Schleck. Geniez was finally caught 2kms from the line.
Overall race leader Cadel Evans (BMC) managed to answer all the attacks and a group of four men including Evans, Nordhaug (SKY), Fedrigo (FDJ) and Nocentini (ALM) showed up on the final straight for decision time. Frenchman Pierrick Fedrigo prooved to be the fastest to the line, outsprinting Nocentini and Nordhaug and winning that very same stage he had conquered two years ago when he had also won the GC.
Cadel Evans keeps his overall leader’s yellow jersey and therefore wins this Criterium International. In the final standings, the Australian beats Fedrigo and Rogers by 8". He also wins the points’ classification while Montaguti finishes best climber and Gauthier best young rider.