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ASO cancels Critérium International

One of France's longest-running races will no longer be contested because of, among other reasons, a crowded WorldTour calendar.

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One of France’s longest-running races — Critérium International — is no more.

Event owner Amaury Sport Organisation cited a crowded racing calendar and the end of a seven-year relationship with backer Corsica in its decision Friday to pull the plug on the race dating back to 1932.

“For its part, ASO has taken the decision to end the organization of the event,” read a press release Friday. “While the winners have been of the highest quality, the peloton has seen a drop in density, due to the number of events taking place at this time of the season.”

On Friday, ASO announced that Corsica officials did not renew the contract. Unable to find another host city, and citing a packed UCI WorldTour calendar, ASO decided to end the race. Dates in late March didn’t help, overlapping with E3 Harelbeke and Gent Wevelgem in Belgium’s wildly popular northern classics, and the week-long Volta a Catalunya in Spain.

The decision is another race that shutters across Europe as the racing landscape continues to evolve and change under an expanding WorldTour calendar and ongoing economic difficulties in Europe.

Critérium International dated back to the 1930s and was one of the few events to be continued during World War II. It moved around France and eventually evolved into a two-day, three-stage event that was dubbed a “mini-Tour de France.” Former winners include some of the biggest names in cycling. Jens Voigt tied the record of five wins in 2009, with American Bobby Julich winning it twice, and Thibaut Pinot as the last winner in 2016.

In 2010, the race moved from northern France to Corsica, giving the event a new lease on life but also changing the character of the race with the inclusion of steeper and longer climbs. Porto-Vecchio, site of the 2013 Tour de France start, hosted the event for seven years.