King Wins Stage 1 of Criterium International 2015
#CriteriumInternational #Criterium USA's Benjamin King (Team Cannondale-Garmin p/b POC) captured his first victory as a professional rider in stage 1 of the 2015 Criterium International in Corsica, France.
After escaping from the main peloton together with Frenchman Clément Saint-Martin in the first kilometer of the stage, the Team Cannondale-Garmin protected by POC rider managed to stay clear from the furious chasing pack, before outsprinting his breakaway companion in Porto-Vecchio. King also took the yellow race leader jersey before the stage 2 individual time trial this afternoon.
With an early start time set for stage 1, the 118 riders took off at 09:27 for stage 1 of Criterium International 2015, under a beautiful blue Corsican sky. As soon as the first of the 92.5 kilometers on the breakfast menu began, Clément Saint-Martin attacked and took with him Benjamin King for what was to be the decisive breakaway of the day. Both riders saw their lead over the pack increase at a fast pace while Cofidis' Turgis and Van Empel (ROP) tried their luck in a counter-attack. Despite moving desperately close to the front duo, the riders never managed to neutralize the remaining ten second lead. Meanwhile, King and Saint-Martin increased their lead on the main peloton group to a maximum of 04:30 at kilometer 30.
Led by teams Europcar and Bretagne Seché Environement, the peloton eventually initiated its real chase. Turgis and Van Empel were eventually caught at kilometer 43.5 while the lead duo was still enjoying a 03:30 lead. King was the first to make it to the top of the sole climb of the day, the Côte de Conca (kilometer 45.5), with a 03:05 minute advantage over the peloton.
At the intermediate sprint set in Lecci (kilometer 73.5), King beat Saint-Martin to the line and could start focusing on obtaining the stage victory, thanks to a very promissing 02:30 lead over the pack. It was time for the final battle between the two breakaway hopefuls and the hungry pack. On the winding and sinuous roads of southern Corsica, the front riders carried on their impressive performance, managing to work perfectly together. It appeared luck was on their side when they realized they were still enjoying a 2 minute lead with just 15 kilometers to go. Despite the efforts of team FDJ, King and Saint-Martin would never by caught.
On the long false-flat final straight, King powered away on his Cannondale bike with 200 meters to go. The Cannondale-Garmin protected by POC rider went on to victoriously cross the finish line, clinching the first win of his pro career.
"Wow. Thank you to everyone and especially my Cannondale-Garmin teammates," King told Roadcycling.com after being celebrated on the podium. "This sport is so full of ups and downs. I owe it to them for this opportunity."
American King wasn't initially scheduled to compete in the Criterium International event, but has now captured the overall leader's yellow jersey with a 8 second advantage over Saint-Martin. The pack eventually reached the finish line led by Romain Feillu (BSE) with a 46 second penalty. King also takes command of the king of the mountain and points classifications, while Saint-Martin will be wearing the best young rider's white jersey in this afternoon's stage 2 individual time trial.
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