With June upon us, the cycling world now turns its attention towards France and the Critérium du Dauphiné, with the Tour de France on the horizon.
The Dauphiné is traditionally seen as the last major warm up before the Tour, a reliable indication as to the form of the favourites. Finishing just off the pace of the leader is generally considered the mark of perfect form, and this is generally where Lance Armstrong used to rank during his now-disgraced era as Tour champion, and during Albero Contador’s run of Tour success he finished between second and sixth.
The theory is that the Dauphiné is too close to the Tour to build up enough form if you finish way down on the general classification, but victory would suggest a premature peak. But, while this seemed to be the case for the likes of Alejandro Valverde, Levi Leipheimer and Christophe Moreau in the recent editions won by them, Bradley Wiggins’ Tour and Dauphiné double last season bucked the trend.
He became the first rider in nine years to win both races in the same season, and may set a benchmark for this year’s Dauphiné. The Tour favourites have been racing hard against each other as early as February this season in a trend that could be ascribed to Wiggins’s haul of stage race wins prior to winning the Tour last year. Where in the past riders feared showing their hand to early in races like the Dauphiné, this year could see them competing wholeheartedly for the win.
Froome will not have the usual prologue to stamp his authority in the race, as the organisers have opted for a hilly stage in Champéry to open the race this year. Monday and Tuesday’s stages are similarly undulating, and present opportunities for riders to breakaway while making it difficult for sprinters teams to control.
Stage four will likely be the first major shake up to the GC, with a 32.5 kilometre flat time-trial from Villars-les-Dombes to Parc des Oiseaux in what will be an important if not decisive stage.
The peloton then heads east towards the Alps, where they will tackle the Hors category Valmorel in the race’s first mountain top finish, but the mountains in Friday’s stage to Grenoble occur to early on the route to affect the GC.
The final weekend looks set to provide a thrilling finale. L’Alpe d’Huez will be climbed in stage seven on route to another uphill finish atop the intriguingly placed category three Superdévoluy, coming as it does immediately after the category one accent to and descent from Col du Noyer, while stage eight’s features two final category one climbs, with the Montée de Rinsoul finish to play host to the final showdown.
The route provides plenty of opportunities for the big names to show their hand, so hopefully we’ll see a race full of quality and aggressive racing.
Critérium du Dauphiné 2013: Stages
|Stage 1||Sun June 2||Champery||Champery||121km||Medium mountains||>>>
|Stage 2||Mon June 3||Chatel||Oyonnax||191km||Sprint
|Stage 3||Tues June 4||Amberieu-en-Bugey||Tarare||167km||Sprint
|Stage 4||Weds June 5||Villars-les-Dombes||Parc des Oiseaux||32.5km||ITT||>>>
|Stage 5||Thurs June 6||Gresy-sur-Aix||Valmorel||139km||Medium mountains||>>>
|Stage 6||Fri June 7||La Lechere||Grenoble||143km||Sprint
|Stage 7||Sat June 8||Le Pont-de-Claix||Superdevoluy||187.5km||Medium mountains||>>>
|Stage 8||Sun June 9||Sisteron||Risoul||155.5km||Medium mountains||>>>
Critérium du Dauphiné 2013: Teams
Ag2r La Mondiale (France)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Bretagne – Seche Environment (France)
FDJ-Big Mat (France)
Netapp Endura (Germany)
Omega Pharma-QuickStep (Belgium)
Sky (Great Britain)
Critérium du Dauphiné 2013: Recent winners
2012 Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Team Sky
2011 Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Team Sky
2010 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) RadioShack
2009 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
2008 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
2007 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Ag2r Prevoyance
2006 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner*
2005 Inigo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
2004 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
2003 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal**
* Leipheimer stripped of result after USADA investigation
** Armstrong stripped of result after USADA investigation
Criterium du Dauphine 2013: Stage reports
Stage eight: Chris Froome wins 2013 Criterium du Dauphine
Stage seven: Sanchez attacks to win
Stage six: Voeckler wins as Froome holds onto lead
Stage five: Froome stamps authority with mountains stage win
Stage four: Martin wins as Dennis takes lead
Stage three: Boasson Hagen wins sprint
Stage two: Viviani sprints to win
Stage one: Veilleux wins opener
Critérium du Dauphiné 2013 Coverage index
Wiggins wins 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné
Froome: “Dauphine is mini Tour”