Criterium International riders ready for l'Ospedale

As was hoped by race organisation ASO before the start of the Criterium International, the three-stage race is still with all to play for ahead of the race's difficult hilly finale that will climax on the Col de l'Ospedale.

A crash-marred bunch finish on stage 1 won by Florian Vachon (Bretagne-Schuller), followed by the afternoon time trial won by Tour de France champion Cadel Evans (BMC) has done little to separate the major contenders, and some 40 riders are still in with a chance to take out the race GC on Sunday.

Evans, who sits on equal time as compatriot Michael Rogers (Sky) said that the sensations were good today, but tomorrow would be a whole different story.

"The old engine was taking a while to warm up," said Evans. "But it's a good sign of things to come. I wasn't as far behind in my preparation as I thought. Now I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Tomorrow is where the race is won or lost."

Sky's director Marcus Ljungqvist, who will be trying to put Rogers into the top spot on GC said that things would be a challenge for any one team to control.

"It’s going to be a hard start with four climbs in the first 80km," said Ljungqvist. "It will be a tough day but they’ve changed it a little bit compared to last year - now we have that tougher start but then it eases off a bit which means the chances are a bigger group will come to that final climb.

"But that's when it will really be 'game on'; the guys are in good condition so we’ll try with everything we have."

Though no longer in the contention for the general classification after yesterday's stage Pierre Rolland (Europcar) says he still wants to chance himself on the Ospedale.

"The Ospedale pass suits me well. I’d like to stay with the best as far as I can, which I managed to do last year. But this time, I’ve spent almost a month out of the competitive circuit."

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