Jens Voigt (CSC) showed yet again that he is one of the most aggressive and most successful short stage race riders in the peloton with a dominate overall victory at the three-stage Criterium International race in northern France.
Voigt attacked alone and won the short but hilly morning stage on Sunday and then wrapped up overall victory in the afternoon time trial by finishing seventh, despite his efforts just a few hours earlier. Voigt finished 34 seconds ahead of talented Swedish rider Thomas Lovkvist (Francaise des Jeux), who won the 8.3km time trial, with Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d?Epargne) third overall at 37 seconds.
Valverde was an impressive second in the time trial just three seconds behind Lovkvist and seems on schedule for an impressive spring in both the Tour of the Basque Country and the Ardennes classics he dominated in 2006. Voigt attacked early in the 98.5km morning stage, remembering from his two previous victories in 1999 and 2004 that breaks are hard to chase on the rolling roads of the French Ardennes forests.
1 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC 6.54.57
2 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Française Des Jeux 0.34
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0.37
4 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis 0.43
5 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
6 José Alberto Martínez (Spa) Agritubel 1.00
7 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 1.02
8 Sébastien Joly (Fra) Française Des Jeux 1.04
9 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 1.06
10 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team CSC 1.16
FREIRE WINS BRABANTSE PIJL
Milan-San Remo winner Oscar Freire (Rabobank) confirmed his excellent spring form on Sunday by winning the hilly Brabanstse Pijl race in Belgium for a third consecutive year.
The three-time world champion got across to a three-rider attack in the final ten kilometres, was given vital help by team mate Michael Boogerd and then won the sprint with style ahead of Nick Nuyens (Cofidis) and Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile). Freire complained of being tired after also riding Saturday?s E3 Harelbeke race and refused to confirm if he would ride the Tour of Flanders next Sunday.
?I was a bit tired after yesterday?s race but Boogerd was good and controlled the race. It was a difficult sprint because there was a hard climb before the finish but I?m happy and I felt good,? he said.
?Boogerd rode the last 10km and everybody was waiting for the sprint and that helped me. Gasparotto started the sprint at 300 metres to go and then in the last 100 mitres I went. It was close because I didn?t have a lot of power but this is a great parcours for me and so I?m very happy to win for a third time.?