Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Road

RIP, Critérium International

We look back at a few of our favorite memories from Critérium International. ASO cancelled the 84-year-old race due to a crowded calendar.

Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.

Critérium International is dead. To our surprise, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), organizer of the Tour de France, announced the news Friday. (Critérium International is sort of the Kourtney Kardashian to the far bigger and more popular Tour, which would be Kim in this analogy.)

With the 85-year-old race mothballed, all we have left are memories of the three-stage, two-day event sometimes considered a “mini Tour de France.” Here are a few notable moments from the race’s history.

Horsing around in the peloton

In 1997, a horse vaulted out of its paddock alongside the road, while the peloton passed, and ran with the cyclists for a little while. Fortunately, from what we can tell by the footage, the ambitious equine was safely routed off the road as the peloton made a turn. This clip was shown in the 2001 French-language movie, “Amelie.”

Jens-térium Inter-Voigt-ional

Retired racer and media darling Jens Voigt is tied with Raymond Poulidor and a second Frenchman, Emile Idée, for most wins at the race, five total. Despite being pegged as a Tour tune-up, Voigt had an affinity for the race’s format. For four of those five wins, Critérium International was actually held in the Ardennes, not in Corsica, where it’s been run since 2010.

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Jens Voigt won the 2004 Criterium International, his second of five victories at the French race. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Fresh faces

As a shorter stage race, positioned early on the calendar, Critérium International was sometimes an opportunity for up-and-comers to prove their mettle against many of the top riders. Recognize this young chap?

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Why, it’s Bradley Wiggins, back in 2004 in his first year with Credit Agricole. In that race, he didn’t make it past the first stage, where he finished well off the back.

Bobby’s big wins

Bobby Julich, on the other hand, was considerably more successful at the French race, winning the overall twice. He took home yellow in 1998, the year he was also third in the infamous “Festina Tour,” and he won Critérium International in 2005, riding for CSC.

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Schleck’s thirst for victory

A Camelbak raised a kerfuffle at the 2011 edition of the race. That year’s winner, Frank Schleck, was accused of riding with a faring on this chest (a Camelbak … er, chest) to reduce drag during the time trial. Schleck insisted his unusual accoutrement was innocent, saying, “I didn’t think this would cause such problems. I know that a lot of riders have tried it before. It’s a system to drink during a time trial, and I wanted to try it. I wasn’t trying to hide anything.”

Ask yourself this, dear cycling fan: Would this gentle man, holding a cute baby kangaroo, really lie to you about time trial aerodynamics?

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Though Critérium International was shoehorned into a spring timeslot, competing with increasingly popular northern classics, and saddled with an odd split-stage format on the first day, it will be missed. Any major race that’s lasted since the early 1930s and has a diverse list of famous winners like Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, Chris Boardman, and Sean Kelly is worth preserving, or at the very least, memorializing.

Hopefully the ASO will bring it back someday. Until then, Jens says à bientot!

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com