Lance Armstrong will take on world road cycling champion Cadel Evans and Olympic gold medallist Samuel Sanchez in next month's Criterium International in Corsica.
Evans faces Armstrong challenge in Corsica
PARIS // Lance Armstrong will take on world road cycling champion Cadel Evans and Olympic gold medallist Samuel Sanchez in next month's Criterium International in Corsica. Armstrong's Team Radioshack, Evans's BMC Racing Team and Sanchez's Euskaltel-Euskadi are among the top Pro Tour teams scheduled to line up at the start in Porto Vecchio on March 27, race director Christian Prudhomme said yesterday.
The Criterium International is raced in three stages over two days - a medium mountain stage on Saturday, and a flat stage and a short individual time trial on Sunday. This year's race will be the first major professional race held in Corsica since the last Tour of Corsica was run in 1982. Seven-time Tour de France champion Armstrong is returning to the race for the first time since he was placed third in 2004.
He finished second in 2002 behind Jose Martinez of Spain. Armstrong's main rival, the reigning Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, is not scheduled to take part in the event while last year's winner - Jens Voigt of Saxo Bank - will also be absent. Corsica is a candidate to host the grand depart of the 100th Tour de France in 2013, and hosting the Criterium International is seen by some observers as a trial run for that. But Prudhomme said the two races were so different that no conclusions could be drawn. "The Tour is so much bigger than the Criterium International," said Prudhomme, whose Amaury Sport Organisation run both races.
The race's mountain stage on Saturday will feature two big climbs, including the finish on top of the Col de l'Ospedale, a 14km ascent with an average grade of seven per cent. The race finishes on March 28 with a 75km flat stage and a 7.7km individual time trial. * AP