|Stage winner||Olaf POLLACK|
|(yellow jersey)||Olaf POLLACK|
|(green jersey)||Olaf POLLACK|
|(red polka dot jersey)||Benjamin JOHNSON|
|(white jersey)||Matteo PRIAMO|
Stage by stage
|1||Saturday 31 March||179 km|
|Asfeld > Charleville-MÃ©ziÃ¨res|
|2||Sunday 1 April||98.5 km|
|Les Vieilles Forges (Les Mazures) > MonthermÃ©|
|3||Sunday 1 April||8.3 km|
|Charleville-MÃ©ziÃ¨res > Charleville-MÃ©ziÃ¨res||ind. TT|
|Total Length||285.8 km|
The raceSaturday 31 March 2007
|stage 1 | Asfeld > Charleville-MÃ©ziÃ¨res - 179 km|
Pollack, under the showers
The first stage of the CritÃ©rium International traditionally offers a mass sprint final. This long lived tradition held to form as the five escapees of the day, Albizuri, Feillu, DallâAntonia, Bellin and Cheula) were caught by the peloton. The storm that dampened spirits then changed the look of the race. The peloton was separated into several groups when it made its way to Charleville-Mezieres. Damiano Cunego looked to take advantage of he confusion, but was rejoined by a group f 83 riders, including former track racer Olaf Pollack who accelerated over the final metres. All the event favourites finished in the lead group.
The film of the stage
Baranauskas gives it his all
In the opening kilometres of todayâs stage, the riders of the Agritubel team were the most ambitious. The first rider to leave the peloton was Aivaras Baranauskas (LTU-AGR), followed by Poilvert (FRA-AGR), but both were immediately reeled in. Romain Feillu (FRA-AGR) and Benat Albizuri (SPA-EUS) accelerated at km 10. They built up a 20 second advance before being joined by DallâAntonia (ITA-Pan), Bellin (ITA-LPR) and Cheula (ITA-BAR). The five moved out to a 40â lead at km 28, 1â05â at 35), then took advantage of a sudden drop in speed of the peloton, the advantage was at a dayâs high of 9â15â at the first intermediate sprint.
An un-panicked chase
The CSC, Caisse DâEpargne and Astana teams set the chase pace of the peloton. The un-panicked pursuit left the lead group of five with an 8â15â advance at km 60, then 5â30â at km 81. At the second intermediate sprint (km128.5), the lead group was under threat with a lead that dropped to 3â30â.
Feillu picks up points and seconds
As the adventure continued there wasnât much hope left for the attackers, but French rider, Romain Feillu managed to score take maximum points for the second time of the stage on the final sprint of the day. Yet there was little doubt the peloton was going to be a factor: 25kms from the finish line the gap was down to 1â30â. The group of five leaders rode together ahead of the field until 16km from the finish when Johnson (AUS â TSL) put in a counter-attack.
Pollack charges hard
The riders approached the finish line under threatening skis, in a splintered pack that overtook the American. Damiano Cunego (ITA-LAM), whose intuitive instincts put in him in the right group, put the hammer down 3.5 kms from the finish line. The six second advantage that he owned when he rode under the red flame would not be enough for the Italian. He was caught by the 83 rider strong peloton, which set off for a sprint finish. Olaf Pollack powered is way to the win ahead of Furlan and Gaztanaga. Pollack won the yellow jersey as the leader of the event.
The winner interview
Olaf Pollack (GER âWEI)
Â«Everyone started getting nervous Â»Â« 10 kilometres from the finish line, I sensed everyone in the peloton was becoming nervous due to the rain that was falling harder and harder. Some slowed up, so there were fewer of us to race for the win. Towards the end of the stage the route was very twisting and this dangerous, I am very happy to have been able to pull this one out.
Tomorrow is another day, Iâll see if I am capable to ride with the leaderâs jersey. In any case, if the weather is as difficult as it was today, we could be in for some surprises.â
The top Five
2 Angelo Furlan (ITA - C.A), same time
3. Mikei Gaztanaga (ESP - AGR), same time
4. Peter Wrolich (AUT - GST), same time
5. SÃ©bstien Chavanel (FRA - FDJ), same time