Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jens Voigt wins Critérium International

Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) was fast just enough in Sunday’s individual time trial to win the Critérium International for a record-tying fifth time.

The veteran German was fifth in the 8.3km course in Charleville-Mézières and held off a challenge from Danny Pate (Garmin-Slipstream), who started the third and final stage in second place, just seven seconds off Voigt’s time.

Tony Martin (Columbia-Highroad) won in 10 minutes, 5 seconds, some six seconds faster than Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream), with Czech rider Frantisek Rabon (Columbia-Highroad) stopping the clock for third at eight seconds slower.

The 38-year-old Voigt joins Raymond Poulidor and Emile Idée as the only five-time winners of the race dubbed the “mini Tour de France.” Voigt won the overall title in 1999 and 2004 before sweeping to a hat-trick with three consecutive titles from 2007-09.

Poulidor won in 196, ’66, ’68, ’71 and ’72, while Idée won in 1940, 1942-43, ’47 and ’49 (Critérium International was one of the few major cycling events that continued to be held each year during World War II).

Recently retired Bobby Julich remains the only American to have won the early season stage race, taking the overall crown in 1998 and 2005.

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