Criterium International review: Peraud claims his second victory

Jean-Christophe Peraud put his Tour de France ambitions back on track by securing a glorious second overall victory in as many years. His blistering attack on the summit finish on the Col de L’Ospedale gave him the stage win and enough bonus seconds to claim the top step of the podium. A strong finishing Thibaut Pinot was second, and a fantastic climb from Fabio Felline was enough to keep third place.

Rider of the race

This was a fascinating race with each of the three very different stages providing both excitement and some surprising winners. I was torn between three riders, but after much mulling and pencil chewing, I plumped for the obvious choice – Monsieur Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale).

Despite his disappointing performance in the stage two time trial, he overturned a 12-second disadvantage to an on-form Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) with a superb performance on the final day. The Queen stage ended with a summit finish on the Col de L’Ospedale, a 14km ascent with ramps of 10% or more in the last kilometres. Peraud attacked with about seven kilometres to go, stamping on the pedals like a man possessed. He soloed in for the stage win and with just enough time to claim the yellow jersey. It was a masterful performance from the Frenchman who has had a difficult start to the season so far.

I also loved that he accessorised his brown bib shorts combo with one red and one blue shoe.

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Peraud in his snazzy red shoe / blue shoe combo stamping on the pedals at the Col L’Opedale. Image: Race website – © ASO/G.Demouveaux

Thoughts from Corsica

1. The break makes it. The first of the two stages on day one certainly threw up a surprise. The 92km outing was a flattish affair with a small climb in the middle. Everyone expected a sprint finish, and the fast men were licking in their lips in anticipation. However, Ben King (Cannondale-Garmin) and and the wonderfully named Clément Saint Martin (Team Marseille 13 KTM) had other ideas. The duo got away early after a frantic start, quickly built up a lead of nearly five minutes, and were never seen again. King came over the line first to claim the leaders jersey and the first win for his team. He was delighted on the podium and dedicated it to all his team mates…

“We’ve had some bad luck, but we haven’t lost our fighting spirit. So, I desperately wanted to get the win for my teammates. That was my motivation. I’m happy I was able to deliver,”

2. Pinot vs Peraud part II. Watching these two French cycling heroes brought back wonderful memories of last year’s Tour de France. Pinot rode an excellent time trial and climbed out of his socks on the summit finish, but he and his FDJ team were outfoxed by a tactically astute Ag2r team. Both men are slated to ride at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, and I look forward to the resumption of hostilities, hopefully all the way through July! Vive Le Tour.

3. The race. I have to admit that the Criterium International is not a race I have followed before. However, I did put it on my list of ,races I want to discover in 2015, and after this edition I am moving it to my ‘races not to be missed’ list. I thoroughly enjoyed the format. There is something for everyone: a fast finish, a time trial, and a feisty climber’s stage all packed into two days. It was great to see the riders from Pro Continental and Continental level teams mixing it with the WorldTour squads. Plus it’s in Corsica – what’s not to like? If you missed it, have a look at the highlights from the final stage.

General classification

1. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale) 7:35:45

2. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +0:10

3. Fabio Felline (Trek) +0.18

4. Pierrick Fedrigo (Bretagne-Seche Environment) +0:18

5. José Mendes (Bora-Argon 18) +0:40

6. Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale) +0:41

7. Nicholas Edet (Cofidis) +0:43

8. Julian Arrendondo (Trek) +0:44

9. Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r La Mondiale) +0:45

10. Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff-Saxo) +0:46

Link: Official race website

Header image: Race website – © ASO/G.Demouveaux

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