Australian Richie Porte snatched the overall lead at the two-day Criterium International yesterday by winning the second stage, a seven kilometres individual time trial.
The Team Sky rider, who won the Paris-Nice week-long race earlier this month, clocked 9:10 on the course which started with a 1.5-kms uphill climb. He beat Italian Manuele Boaro and American Tejay van Garderen, who were second and third respectively one second behind, with Britain’s Chris Froome, pictured, taking a decent fourth place two seconds off the pace.
Andrew Talansky of the US claimed fifth place for Garmin-Sharp a further five seconds adrift ahead of today’s third and last stage finishing at top of the Col de l’Ospedale above Porto Vecchio, Corsica, where the 2013 Tour de France will start in less than three months.
Defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia almost fell off his bike in a descent and finished a distant 68th, 45 seconds behind.
Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck who has been in terrible form since crashing out of the Criterium du Dauphine last June, took 65th place, 44 seconds behind Porte. Today’s stage, a 176km ride from Porto Vecchio, will finish at the Col de l’Ospedale after a 14.1-kms climb at an average gradient of 6.2 per cent. Team Sky will have two cards to play with Froome and Porte. “I will be delighted to help Chris Froome tomorrow but I’m sure he’ll be very happy to help me too,” Porte added.
The first stage, a 89-kms ride around Porto Vecchio yesterday morning, was won by Dutchman Theo Bos who outsprinted French champion Nacer Bouhanni.
n Australia’s Simon Gerrans won the penultimate stage of the Volta a Catalunya as Ireland’s Daniel Martin retained the overall lead.
Orica-GreenEDGE rider Gerrans was fifth with 100m to go but produced a burst of speed on the uphill finish to beat Gianni Meersman of Belgium, who had won the first two stages. Martin leads by 17 seconds going into the final stage ahead of Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez with Sir Bradley Wiggins fourth overall and 54 seconds adrift.