BMC Racing's Evans and van Garderen targeting Critérium International
This year's Critérium International will take place on the 23rd and 24th of March on the French island Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea. The event consists of three stages, which all begin in Porto-Vecchio but offer the peloton rather different challenges.
The flat 89 kilometer stage 1 from Porto-Vecchio to Porto-Vecchio is an opportunity for the sprinters to prove their worth while the general classification favorites preserve as much energy in their engines as possible for the afternoon's 7 kilometer individual time trial, which is set to leave a notable mark on the overall classification. The time trial, however, also offers time trial experts the opportunity to take the overall race lead and go to bed wearing the leader's jersey that same evening.
Sunday's stage 3 offer the peloton a climber's menu spread across 176 kilometers where the general classification favorites will battle. However, weather forecasts predict rainy conditions on Corsica this weekend with temperatures between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius, or 59 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the 2013 Critérium International is only two days and three stages long, defending Criterium International champion Cadel Evans has the utmost respect for the legendary event, which he is treating as a rehearsal for the Tour de France. Fittingly the Critérium International is organized by Tour de France organizer A.S.O.
The BMC Racing Team expects the Critérium International to be the only event Evans races with teammate Tejay van Garderen before the Tour de France. "Therefore, it's really important for both of us, as it is important to race with everyone whom you ride with at the Tour before the Tour," Evans explained.
When asked to comment on the pressure to win as the defending champion, Evans said "I always want to win, I always put pressure on myself to perform well, whether I am defending champion or not. It doesn't change a great deal for me."
The prolonged wintry conditions across Europe have limited Evans' and van Garderen's training extent. "With the weather the way it has been in Europe, we've had difficulty training. But I have trained reasonably well."
BMC's Brent Bookwalter and Amaël Moinard return from the squad that helped Cadel Evans win last year. Van Garderen is looking forward to racing the Critérium International and put his focus on the time trial instead of who is to be leader of the BMC team in the event.
According to van Garderen the stage 2 individual time trial – which Evans won by 0.3 seconds over Team Sky Pro Cycling's Michael Rogers last year – will help him gauge his form. "It's short, so maybe not perfectly suited for me. I haven't seen if it's technical or has climbing, but I will get a chance to recon it a few days before we do it."
"I look forward to racing with (Evans) and getting to know him a bit better in our steps toward a good performance at the Tour," van Garderen explained.
BMC's assistant sports director Yvon Ledanois said the final stage, which offers a mountain-top finish on the Col de l’Ospedale, is the perfect final stage. "I think with Tejay and Cadel and a strong team around them, we have a good opportunity to get another win."
Team BMC Racing Roster for the 2013 Criterium International:
Cadel Evans (AUS), Tejay van Garderen (USA), Brent Bookwalter (USA), Mathias Frank (SUI), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Dominik Nerz (GER), and Sebastian Lander (DEN).