By Andrew Hood
Lance Armstrong heads the lineup at the Criterium International, theso-called “mini-Tour de France” because the race features a flat stage,a climbing stage and an individual time trial, all the features of a majorstage-race.After a virus postponed his season debut until Milan-San Remo last weekend,it will be Armstrong’s second appearance this season. Held this year near the French-Luxembourg border, Criterium International’s climbing section the through the French Ardennes will be good preparation for the upcoming Classics. Saturday opens with a 192-km rolling stage starting and finishing in Charleville-Mézières while Sunday is split into two sections.The morning stage is a 98.5-km climbing stage from Les Mazures to Montherméwhile the field races against the clock in an 8.5-km individual time trialin Charleville-Mézières. Organized by the Societe du Tourde France, teams angling for a Tour bid always want to shine at this high-profile,two-day race.Twenty-two teams are scheduled to start:AG2R, Alessio, BigMat, Bonjour, Cofidis, Crédit Agricole, CSC,Domo, Euskaltel, Française des Jeux, iBbanesto.com, Jean Delatour,Kelme, Lotto, Mercatone Uno, ONCE, Phonak, Saeco, Saint-Quentin, Team Coast,Telekom and U.S. Postal.Last year’s winner, Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto), flew into the Classicswith wonderful success. Marco Pantani continues his comeback withan appearance while Americans Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali) and JonathanVaughters (Credit Agricole) as well as the Postal squad.Francesco Casagrande leads Coppi-BartaliRuggero Marzoli won his first-ever stage as a professional Fridayin the fourth day of the Coppi-Bartali in Italy, winning the 195-km stagefrom San Salvatore to Monte Carlo.The Mobilvetta Design rider beat such heavyweights as Giulano Figuerasand Francesco Casagrande while former mountain biker Cadel Evanscontinues to show amazing form, finishing fourth in the stage.Earlier in Coppi-Bartali, Evans won the team time trial with his Mapeisquad. Alessandro Petacchi, winner of the first three stages, fadedin the mountains and lost more than 16 minutes to fall to 48th overall.Casagrande takes the overall lead while Evans moves up to fourth overall.Saturday is the final stage, 153 kilometers from Casalguidi to Cantagrillo.
Results, fourth stage, Coppi-Bartali, Friday, March 29, (San Salvatore-Monte
Carlo, 195,3 km):
1) Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) in 5h01’33” (average 38,859 km/h, 5-secondbonus)
2) Giuliano Figueras (Ita) a 6″, 3 second-bonus
3) Francesco Casagrande (Ita) s.t., 1-second bonus
4) Cadel Evans (Aut) a 8″
5) Michele Scarponi (Ita) s.t.
6) Peter Luttenberger (Aus) s.t.
7) Massimo Giunti (Ita) s.t.
8) Faat Zakirov (Rus) a 13″
9) Brad Davidson (Aut) a 21″
10) Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) a 23″
94) Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) a 16’41”
Overall standings after four stage, 670,2 kilometers:
1) Francesco Casagrande (Ita) in 16h39’23” (average 40,237 km/h)
2) Giuliano Figueras (Ita) a 4″
3) Peter Luttenberger (Aus) a 7″
4) Cadel Evans (Aut) a 16″
5) Gerhard Trampusch (Aus) a 20″
6) Luca Scinto (Ita) a 21″
7) Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) a 22″
8) Massimo Giunti (Ita) a 29″
9) Nicola Loda (Ita) a 42″
10) Kyrylo Pospyeyev (Ucr) a 44″
48) Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) a 16’21”