Ten Dam Wins Stage 1 of Criterium International
Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) has stolen Stage 1 of the Criterium International. The Dutchman slipped away from the peloton two km into today's 193-km run from Charleville to Mezieres and held off the field to win the day in 4:50:04. Benoit Vaugrenard (Francaise des Jeux) outsprinted Mirco Lorenzetto (Lampre) for second at 0:10.
According to Ten Dam, "I told my teammates I was going to do something today. I felt like I had good legs, so that's why attacked so soon." Ian McKissick (BMC) joined the Rabobank man, and the pair led the field by 17 minutes at 64 km.
Usually, the bunch can time its pursuit well enough to reel in the break without exhausting itself, but such was not the case today. The peloton did not chase seriously until the last 50 km, and the pace split the field. Vaugrenard led home a 33-man pack that included five CSC men, including the Schleck brothers and three-time winner Jens Voigt. Other riders, however, including 2005 champion Bobby Julich (CSC), Dave Zabriskie (Slipstream), and Jean-Patrick Nazon (Ag2r) lost almost seven minutes.
With 23 km remaining, Ten Dam dropped an exhausted McKissick, who took the King of the Mountains jersey for his day's work. With 12.5 km left, the bunch was within 1:30 of the Dutchman, but Ten Dam relied on determination to hold off the field. The Rabobank rider scored his first major victory and the second of his five-year career.
Tomorrow will be a two-stage day. Stage 2 will be a hilly, 98.5-km ride from Les Vieilles Forges to Montherme, and Stage 3 will be an 8.3-km time trial in Charleville-Mezieres. The climbers and the time trialists have yet to speak in this year's Criterium International. Who will speak loudest? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!