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Dumoulin emerges as the strongest in a two-rider battle with Dennis in the short 7km Criterium International to take both the stage win and the overall lead ahead of tomorrow's summit finish

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BOB JUNGELS

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CRITÉRIUM INTERNATIONAL

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ROHAN DENNIS

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TEAM SUNWEB

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TOM DUMOULIN

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29.03.2014 @ 17:49 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) confirmed that he is a great TT specialist in the making when he lived up to his role of favourite in today's short 7km Criterium International time trial. The Dutchman powered around the course in a time of 9.07 to hold off Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) by three seconds, with Bob Jungels (Trek) being a distant 3rd, and so takes over the lead ahead of tomorrow's big summit finish on the Col de l'Ospedale.

 

A few weeks ago, Tom Dumoulin proved that he gets closer and closer to the best TT specialists when he finished 5th behind the giants Adriano Malori, Fabian Cancellara, Bradley Wiggins, and Tony Martin in the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial. Today he confirmed his great potential in the discipline when he won the short 7km time trial at the Criterium International.

 

Dumoulin had been marked out as the great favourite for the stage, with Rohan Dennis and Bob Jungels being tipped as his most likely challengers, and all three riders lived up to those predictions. Dumoulin was the first of the trio on the course and he crushed the previous best time of 9.18 from Jerome Coppel (Cofidis) when he stopped the clock at 9.07.

 

Dumoulin now faced a nervous wait as Dennis was already on the course but the Australian could only manage 9.10. He now only had to wait for Jungels who was one of the final starters and he could make a sigh of relief when the Luxembourger's time of 9.17 was only good enough for 3rd.

 

With the win, Dumoulin takes over the leader's jersey from the winner of the morning stage Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) and he is now set up for a good GC result, with Dennis and Jungels also targeting the overall standings. However, they have to be wary of pre-race favourite Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r) who had a good ride to take fourth with a time of 9.18.

 

Tomorrow the race comes to an end with its usual queen stage to the top of the Col de l'Ospedale. During the 176km stage, the riders will go up 5 climbs before it all comes to an end with the tough ascent to the finish 956m above sea level.

 

A technical affair

The 2014 Criterium International follows its traditional format and so it was time for the GC riders to come into action in the afternoon time trial after they had survived the danger of crosswinds in the opening half-stage. The 7km course in Porto-Vecchio was a technical affair with some rolling hills on an otherwise mostly flat course that would allow the TT specialists to take some time on the climbers ahead of tomorrow's big mountain stage.

 

The first rider down the ramp was Felipe Paredes (Colombia) who took off at 14.38 local time. The Colmbian set a time of 10.55 but he was quickly knocked out of the hot seat, with Thierry Hupond (Giant-Shimano) taking an early lead with a time of 9.42.

 

Gougeard takes the lead

Calvin Watson (Trek) set a time of 9.44 to get close to the lead but the rider to knock Hupond out of the hot seat was TT specialist Alexis Gougeard who set a time of 9.33. Andy Schleck (Trek) was the first big name to finish his ride but the Luxembourger's time of 9.53 was only good enough for a provisional 7th.

 

Fabio Duarte (Colombia), Marcel Wyss (IAM), and Flavien Dassonville (BigMat) all set good times to move into the provisional top 10 but it was Jerome Coppel (Cofidis) who denied Gougeard the chance to win when he posted a time of 9.18. One minute later, Romain Sicard (Europcar) moved into the provisional 3rd while the next rider, Eduardo Sepulveda (Bretagne)'s time of 9.25 was good enough for 2nd.

 

Dumoulin shows his strength

Lawson Craddock (Giant), Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ), Tiago Machado (NetApp), and Gustav Larsson (IAM) all made it into the provisional top 10 but all eyes now were on Dumoulin who was the big favourite. With a time of 9.07, he easily beat Coppel but quickly faced a big test for Dennis who was already on the course.

 

The Australian was 3 seconds too slow to take the lead while Frank Scleck (Trek) did a good ride with 9.37. Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin) moved into fourth with a time of 9.21 while Mathias Frank (IAM) set himself well up for the GC with a time of 9.23.

 

Peraud with a good ride

All eyes were now on overall favourite Jean-Chirstophe Peraud who proved his TT skills when he took the provisional third spot with a time of 9.18. Julien Simon (Cofidis) also made it into the top 10 but the only rider that could realistically beat Dumoulin was Jungels.

 

The Luxembourger did well to take third but could do nothing against Dumoulin. Runner-up in the morning stage Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) had a good ride to take 10th while overall leader Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) was far off the pace.

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