Despite 11 seasons as a professional, Pierrick Fedrigo admitted he was amazed to win the 2010 Criterium International ahead of a host of established Grand Tour riders. A winner of two Tour de France stages, ProTour event GP Plouay and the French championship, the 31-year-old Bbox Bouygues Telecom rider was still surprised to have triumphed in Corsica.
"I feel like a kid," he said with a grin. "When I’m in a race with [Cadel] Evans, [Alberto] Contador and [Samuel] Sanchez, I’m not used to attacking them."
However, attack he did with less than three kilometres to go in the climb of the Ospedale on Saturday's opening stage. He rode a decent time trial on Sunday afternoon to score the 13th best time, just ahead of Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and Lance Armstrong (RadioShack). His time trial performance was more than enough to hold on to yellow, with 14 seconds to spare over Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia). It also meant the two second bonus he received after finishing third on Sunday's flat morning stage weren’t critical to his overall win.
"I rode the time trial instinctively," said the Bordeaux native. "I threw the radio away before the start because it wasn’t working well. I found the motivation by reading the record book of the Criterium International in the team bus before warming up. I said to myself that my name had to be added to this list."
Fedrigo becomes the first Frenchman to win Criterium International since Laurent Brochard in 2003.
Can success breed success?
Observers of Fedrigo's career often believe that his physical capacity exceeds that of his motivation for racing. In 2008, cut his season short in mid-September, only to realise the error of his ways when he witnessed Alessandro Ballan's victory at the World Championship. Just four weeks earlier, he had defeated the Italian at GP Plouay.
Last season, Fedrigo nominated himself as a candidate for the French team at the World Championship in Mendrisio, Switzerland but again pulled the plug at the Vuelta a España on stage 11 because he wanted to go home and see his children. And, one week ago, questions were again being asked when the team captain of Bbox Bouygues Telecom chose to race the UCI1.2-ranked Classic Loire-Atlantique (where he finished third) and the French Cup GP Cholet-Pays de Loire, instead of Milan-San Remo.
"The level of the races I took part in was largely inferior to the La Primavera, but maybe they made me a winner today," he said.
Fedrigo accepts the reproach of his critics, but is vague about any potential plans to improve his status. "Maybe I should ride less to win more, like some of the big champions do," he said on Sunday. But that would mean training more and that’s obviously not his cup of tea.
He said he is open to change and envisages a to move to a foreign team when his contract with Bbox Bouygues Telecom runs out at the end of this year. "Slowly but surely I'm building my record book," he said, after securing the 20th victory of his career since turning professional with Crédit Agricole in 2000.
Fedrigo also has general classification victories at the Tour of Limousin and the Four Days of Dunkirk under his belt, but, "The level of the Criterium International was much higher than these races."
Fedrigo said he wants to confirm at Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège that he’s not just an intermittent winner.