By VeloNews Interactive
Belgian Rik Verbrugghe of the Lotto team won the first stage of the Criterium International in France on Saturday. Verbrugghe was one of 12 riders to escape with less than 15km left in the 190km stage. On a day that included three category 4 climbs, the breakaway occurred on the last climb and despite chase efforts by Saeco and ONCE, the group gained 18 seconds on the rest of the field.
CRITERIUM INTERNATIONAL, March 31-April 1. France.
Stage 1: Charleville-Mezieres
1. Rik Verbrugghe (B), Lotto 191km in 4:59:15 (avg: 38.295 kph); 2. Patrice Halgand (F), Jean Delatour; 3. David Moncouti (F); 4. Florent Brard (F), Festina; 5. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kz), Telekom; 6. Stephane Heulot (F), Big Mat; 7. Michael Blaudzun (Dk), CSC-World Online; 8. Juan Carlos Dominguez (Sp), 9. Jens Voigt (G), Credit Agricole; 10. Alberto Martinez (Sp), all s.t.
40. Bobby Julich (USA), Credit Agricole, at 0:18; 87. Chris Wherry (USA), Mercury-Viatel, at 0:18; 106. Gord Fraser (Can), Mercury-Viatel, at 0:18.