Pierrick Fedrigo upstaged the more fancied favourites to claim victory in the first stage of the Critérium International, dropping closest challenger Tiago Machado in the last kilometre.



Though the mountainous first stage in Corsica had been billed as a tasty showdown between in-form Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong, both rivals failed to perform on the 14-kilometre finishing climb of the Col d’Ospedale.



Albert Timmer (Skil-Shimano) and Cedric Pineau (Roubaix Lille Metropole) were the day’s early escapees, making it over the day’s first two climbs before being caught by the bunch.



After an escape from French duo Brice Feillu and Dmitri Champion was snuffed out at the foot of the last climb, Vacansoleil man Sergey Lagutin made his lone move.



From the beginning of the climb, Lance Armstrong was not favourably positioned in the bunch. After being dropped, he lost almost five minutes in as many kilometres. At the finish, the American said that he was still not fully over the stomach problems that caused him to withdraw from Milan-San Remo.



However, Contador’s misfire was more puzzling. Having taken two bonus seconds in intermediate sprints and with several Astana riders – including Alexandre Vinokourov – working on front of the peloton from fifty kilometres to go, the scene looked set for an attack from the in-form Spaniard.



It didn’t come to fruition. When the pace was forced two kilometres from the finish after Lagutin’s return, the heavy favourite had no answer and fell behind.



As chill winds gusted on the forested Col d’Ospedale, it was left for Fedrigo to take flight, kickng inside the final kilometre to dispose of closest challenger Tiago Machado (Team RadioShack).



“I’m really surprised. I took my chance today; I just said ‘300 metres more, 300 more, 300 more.. and then I’d won,” Fedrigo said.



Fifteen seconds behind, Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez led in a select group for third place, which included fancied pre-race favourites Cadel Evans and Michael Rogers.



Tomorrow sees a 75km morning stage before an 8-kilometre time-trial around Porto-Vecchio. Though the advantage now lies strongly with Fedrigo, he may be very thankful of the bonus seconds taken from today’s victory, considering that former world time-trial champion Michael Rogers is in the chasing group.



After finishing just behind the front group with Garmin team-mate Daniel Martin, a strong time-trial will propel David Millar into the top ten overall.



Criterium International 2010, Stage one: Porto-Vecchio-Col de l’Ospedale


1. Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom 175.5km in 5-19-35

2. Tiago Machado (Por) Team RadioShack at 11secs

3. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 15 secs

4. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team

5. David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis

6. Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil

7. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia

8. Chris Horner (Usa) Team RadioShack

9. Ben Hermans (Bel) Team RadioShack

10. David Lopez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne all at same time

British and others

14. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Transitions at 24secs

23. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at 1-13

50. Lance Armstrong (Usa) Team RadioShack at 4-51

104. Russell Downing (GBr) Team Sky at 21-03



General classification after stage one


1. Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom 5-19-35

2. Tiago Machado (Por) Team RadioShack at 15secs

3. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 21secs

4. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team at 25secs

5. David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis

6. Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil

7. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia

8. Chris Horner (Usa) Team RadioShack

9. Ben Hermans (Bel) Team RadioShack

10. David Lopez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne all at same time



Related links


2010 Criterium International: The Big Preview