Fränk Schleck (Leopard-Trek) clinched the Critérium International in Porto-Vecchio on Sunday after the third and final stage, a 7.8km time trial through the streets of this Corsican town.
The 30-year-old rider, older brother of two-time Tour de France runner-up Andy Schleck, had laid the foundation for his victory in an impressive mountain stage win on Saturday.
Schleck finished 13th in Sunday’s finale, won by German veteran Andreas Klöden (Team RadioShack), but his main rivals for the overall victory failed to gain enough time on him.
He lost just seven seconds to overall runner-up Vasil Kiryienka (Movistar) and actually gained two seconds on third-placed Rein Taaramae (Cofidis).
When eventual second-place finisher Vasil Kiryienka (Movistar) crossed the line 17 seconds behind Klöden, Schleck knew a massive effort would be required to keep the leader’s jersey.
Riding one of his best time trials to date, Schleck dug deep to secure the time he would need to hold onto the overall.
“I was nervous, of course,” he said. “It’s a nice race at a high level. With all the big riders here, it had a big meaning. I didn’t want to give the win away. I was pretty nervous before. In the time trial, you don’t have a lot of time to think. Kim [Andersen] told me on the radio that I was doing very well. I felt very good and I’m very happy with it. It was important to me to get a good result and boost the confidence.”
It was Schleck’s first win since taking the Tour of Switzerland and his national title in June last year. The two-time Tour de France stage winner then saw his hopes in last year’s Tour end prematurely when he broke his collarbone on the third stage.
“Fränk did a very nice time trial today,” Leopard-Trek sport director Kim Andersen said. “I think it may even have been the best he has ever done. Jakob [Fuglsang] and Maxime [Monfort] did very well, too. They finished third and seventh in the stage. It shows that the team is up there where they should be.
“It’s a nice win for Fränk, especially with the time trial, he shows he is doing a lot better than he used to be doing. This will give him a lot of confidence moving forward, and it’s very useful for the Tour.”
- 1. Andreas Klöden (Ger), Team RadioShack, 8:46
- 2. Bradley Wiggins (Gbr), Team Sky, at 0:04
- 3. Jakob Fuglsang (Den), Leopard-Trek, at 0:10
- 4. David Zabriskie (USA), Garmin-Cervélo, at 0:14
- 5. Andrew Talansky (USA), Garmin-Cervélo, at 0:15
- 1. Frank Schleck (Lux), Leopard-Trek, 7:13:12
- 2. Vasili Kiryienka (Blr), Movistar, at 0:13
- 3. Rein Taaramae (Est), Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne, at 0:30
- 4. Alexandre Geniez (Fra), Skil-Shimano, at 1:14
- 5. Tiago Machado (Por), Team RadioShack, at 1:15