ASO announces end of Criterium International

The Criterium International will not be held in 2017 after ASO announced on Friday that it will no longer organise the two-day event, which traditionally takes place on the weekend following Milan-San Remo.

For the past seven years, the Criterium International has been hosted in Corsica. The event has been held every year since 1932.

In a statement issued on Friday morning, the Tour de France organiser ASO said that it had “taken the decision to end the organisation of the event. While the winners have been of the highest quality, the peloton has seen a drop in density, due to the number of events taking place at this time of the season.”

In recent seasons, Criterium International has often been overshadowed by the WorldTour events taking place on the same weekend, namely Gent-Wevelgem, E3 Harelbeke and the Volta a Catalunya.

The race began as the Criterium National de la Route one-day race in 1932 and initially only French riders could compete. The race continued even through World War II: between 1941 and 1943, one version of the race took place in Occupied France and another in the Free Zone.

The Criterium National subsequently became a stage race and opened to foreign riders on French teams, with Joop Zoetemelk becoming the first non-French winner in 1979.

From 1981, the race was rebranded as the Criterium International and was opened fully to foreign riders and teams, with its format – a flat stage, a hilly stage and time trial stage, spread across two days – proving popular. Sean Kelly claimed the race on three occasions in the 1980s, a period that also saw Laurent Fignon, Miguel Indurain, Stephen Roche and Bernard Hinault feature on the roll of honour.

After 1960, when it took place in Oran, Algeria, the race was usually held in the south of France, though under ASO’s stewardship, the Criterium International took place in Charleville-Mézières between 2001 and 2009, a period that saw the race dominated by Bjarne Riis’ CSC team.

In 2010, the race moved to more mountainous terrain around Porto-Vecchio, with Cadel Evans (2012) and Chris Froome (2013) among those to triumph in Corsica, where the summit finish on the Col de l'Ospedale usually proved decisive. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) won the most recent – and seemingly final – edition of the Criterium International.

“After seven years of excellent collaboration with the city of Porto-Vecchio, host city of the 100th Tour de France in 2013, Amaury Sport Organisation and the representatives of the community have decided to not renew their agreements concerning the Critérium International,” read Friday’s statement from ASO. “However, the relationships that have developed over time will continue to produce cycling related events.”

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