|Stage winner||Thomas LÃVKVIST|
|(yellow jersey)||Jens VOIGT|
|(green jersey)||Alejandro VALVERDE|
|(red polka dot jersey)||Gorazd STANGELJ|
|(white jersey)||Thomas LÃVKVIST|
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 raceSunday 1 April 2007
|stage 3 | Charleville-MÃ©ziÃ¨res > Charleville-MÃ©ziÃ¨res - 8.3 km|
Voigt makes it three
Winner of the Criterium International in 1999 and 2004, Jens Voigt has made it three wins after having opened a sizeable gap in the morning climbing stage. The German is the frst rider to score three wins on the Criterium International since Irelandâs Sean Kelly (1983, 1984 and 1987). In the afternoon time-trial, the German rode relaxed on his way to a 7th place finish. The winner of the afternoon stage was Swedenâs Thomas Lovqvist, which was good enough to see him move up to second in the overall standings ahead of Valverde, Chavanel and Kloden.
The film of the stage
109 riders against the clock
After the 42 riders who retired in the morning stage, 109 riders rolled off the start ramp for the time-trial in the streets of Charleville-MÃ©ziÃ¨res. Denmarkâs Lars Bak, last in the overall standings, was the first to set off on the 8.3km race against the clock. He was immediately bettered by Belgian rider Rik Verbrugghe, winner of this race and the CritÃ©rium International in 2001.
Vino rides strong
Sandy Casar was the provisional leader of the stage before his time was beaten by Dutch national time-trial champion Stef Clement. Clementâs performance will see him up in the junior standings but he was eventually relegated out of the top spot by American Danny Pate. The public gathered at the place Ducal waited to see what Alexandre Vinokourov was going to produce after he ran discreetly on the opening stage to concentrate his efforts on the time-trial. And the enigmatic Vinokourov posted a time 12â better than former leader Pate.
But there was another specialist when it comes to short distance time-trials who was already on the road when âVinoâ concluded his weekendâs race. Bobby Julich began by lowering the first intermediate time, then passed Vinokourov by one second at the finish line. Yet it wasnât the American, twice-winner on the CritÃ©rium International, who took over as the new leader. First it was Sylvain Chavanel in his French national championâs jersey in bettering Julich by a second.
Thomas Lovqvist then turned the hierarchy upside down in posting a time 12 seconds better than Chavanel. Neither Valverde nor Kloden could match the times of the young Swede, who also won the white jersey.
The winner interview
Jens Voigt (GER â CSC)
"This race was made for me."
With a 48 second lead before the time-trial, was your afternoon an easy one?
Yes, but my legs were not on form. Before beginning the race, I made a trip around the course with Franck Schleck. When I finished I was really happy I had such an advantage. If I had just a 10 second lead, the situation would have been very stressful, because I expended so much on the morning climb stage.â
This is your third win on the CritÃ©rium International. Is this race one of your primary objectives during the year?
âYes, because I know it is a race that perfectly suits my capabilities. Unfortunately, I know I can not win the Tour de France. Yet, here over a weekend, I know I can remain mentally focused and physically consistent to be in a position to win. I know I canât beat Pittacchi on a sprint, I canât keep up with Cunego in the mountains, so I adapt to what I can do. On the major climbs, I canât hold on for 15 kilometres, but on the climbs this weekend, that are just three or four kilometres, I am capable to produce strong results. That was also part of the strategy; I prefer to ride off alone.
You are the first three-time winner of the CritÃ©rium International since Sean Kelly, in 1987. Does this distinction represent something special for you?
Ever since I was a little kid Sean Kelly was my hero. Because he was a rider who was successful from the start to the end of the year, ready to compete for the win at each race, like Jaja later on, or like Eric Zabel. So I think it is cool to share this with him.â
2. Lovqvist at 35"
3. Valverde at 37"
4. Kloden at 44"
5. Chavanel at 44"