By VeloNews Interactive wire services , Copyright AFP2002
A number of top riders, including Kazakh title contenders Andrei Kivilev and Alexandre Vinokourov, have pulled out of this weekend’s Criterium international race.
Kivilev, who came in fourth overall in last year’s Tour de France, is suffering from a virus according to his Cofidis team while Paris-Nice winner Vinokourov, who rides for Telekom, has an achilles problem. Also out are Swiss pair Oscar Camenzind (Phonak) and Alex Zulle (Team Coast). Camenzind reportedly has a cold while Zulle is suffering from a sore knee after a fall in training. Spaniard Abraham Olano (ONCE) has also pulled out of the start list.
The Criterium International, a two-day race of three stages in the Ardennes (north-east) area of France, will feature triple Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who came 44th in his first race on the continent at the Milan-San Remo classic last Sunday. Meanwhile French hopes will lie squarely with up and coming Sandy Casar of La Française des Jeux who placed second behind Paris-Nice winner Vinokourov two weeks ago.