Russell Downing Rides to Stage 2 Victory in 2010 Criterium International

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03/28/2010| 0 comments
by AP

Russell Downing Rides to Stage 2 Victory in 2010 Criterium International

Pierrick Fedrigo keeps yellow jersey; Lance Armstrong finished 05:03 behind winner.

Russell Downing of Britain won Sunday's second stage of the Criterium International, with Tour de France winners Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador finishing in a trailing pack.

France's Pierrick Fedrigo cemented his hold on the race leader's yellow jersey, placing third behind Swiss rider Michael Albasini in the mass sprint on a slight uphill climb to the finish.

Downing clocked 1 hour, 42 minutes, 20 seconds for the mostly flat, 75-kilometer (47-mile) course in and around Porto Vecchio, a port town in southeast Corsica.

The 31-year-old from Rotherham said he was "really happy" by nosing past 51 other riders including Armstrong, Contador and world champion Cadel Evans of Australia, who all had the same time.

"I came here to win the stage of the sprinters. I knew there wouldn't be that many here, and I did it," said Downing, whose Team Sky won the team time-trial at the Tour of Qatar in February. "It's amazing."

Fedrigo, a Bouygues Telecom rider who won Saturday's first stage, gained two bonus seconds for his third-place finish. The Frenchman has a 17-second lead over RadioShack's Tiago Machado of Portugal in second and leads third-place Samuel Sanchez of Spain by 23 seconds overall.

The two-day, three-stage race is the first showdown between reigning Tour de France winner Contador and Armstrong - the seven-time champion - since cycling's premier event last year.

Contador was 1:23 seconds behind Fedrigo, and Armstrong -- who struggled in the final climb in Saturday's Stage 1 - was 5:03 back, in 50th place.

Downing's Australian teammate Simon Gerrans dropped out of the race after crashing. Details about his spill and his condition were not immediately available.

Riders aren't finished for the day. They are grabbing lunch before the race ends Sunday afternoon in a 7.7 kilometer (4.8-mile) time trial finale in Porto Vecchio, Corsica.

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