Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) took control in Sunday’s mountaintop finale to win the Critérium International on Corsica in what he described as an early season “confidence boost.”
Evans finished fourth in a four-man group topping the Cat. 1 Col de l’Ospedale with the same time as stage winner Pierrick Fédrigo (FDJ-BigMat) to lock up his first overall GC title since winning last year’s Tour de France.
For Evans, the victory confirmed that he’s on the right track going toward his major goal of defending his Tour crown later this summer.
“Yesterday was a good indication and a nice confidence boost,” Evans said of Saturday’s time trial victory. “Sometimes things go well and it all comes together. Up until this point, I had trouble bringing things together. But I knew to keep working at it and things would come together. It’s a good indication, but we have big races still to come.”
Evans won Saturday’s time trial stage by just 0.3 seconds over Michael Rogers, but the Team Sky rider faltered in the upper reaches of Sunday’s grueling climb, ceding eight seconds and slipping to third overall behind Fédrigo.
BMC Racing set a high pace early in the stage to control any threatening attacks in the five-climb, 179km stage around the southern end of Corsica.
Evans’ teammates continued to drive a high pace on the 14km, 1,000-meter finish climb, with Brent Bookwalter, Marco Pinotti and Amaël Moinard all taking pulls that softened up the bunch.
Evans did what he had to do to finish off BMC Racing’s strong work by putting in a sharp attack within 3km to go the line to eliminate Rogers.
That acceleration reduced the lead group to four and all Evans had to do was to stay with them to the line to secure the overall win.
Evans methodically kept his most dangerous GC rivals in check as Fédrigo dashed to what was his first win since joining FDJ-BigMat after his breakout 2010 season.
Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r La Mondiale) crossed the line second with Lars-Peter Nordhaug posting a strong ride for Sky with third.
“As a team we worked really well today,” Evans said on the team’s web site. “Today, the young guys started out and I think for them it was an honor for them to ride in a part of France for the yellow jersey.”
Defending champion Fränk Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) couldn’t muster much of a defense against Evans and settled into 30th overall, at 4:07 back.