Jonas Vingegaard to David Gaudu: Eight riders to watch at the Critérium du Dauphiné 2023

Stacked GC field also includes Adam Yates, Richard Carapaz, Mikel Landa and Jai Hindley

Jonas Vingegaard
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Critérium du Dauphiné gets underway this weekend and is one of the traditional warm up races for the Tour de France.

Many of the general classification favourites for the Tour will be on the start line, ready for one final opportunity to test the legs before they head to Bilbao for the Grand Départ on 1 July. After only recently winning the Giro d’Italia, reigning champion Primož Roglič will sit out the week-long stage race in south east France.

Jonas Vingegaard heads up Jumbo-Visma in his absence as the Danish rider continues his preparation ready to attempt to defend his Tour title.

Vingegaard will face the likes of Richard Carapaz, Mikel Landa and Jai Hindley as he goes for Dauphiné victory.

The race promises to be an exciting week of action, here are Cycling Weekly’s eight riders to watch at the Critérium du Dauphiné. 

Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën)

Ben O'Connor

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Australian Ben O’Connor has enjoyed success at the Dauphiné in the past, finishing third on the podium behind Roglič and Vingegaard last year.

The previous year he finished eighth overall and was on the attack in many of the final mountain stages. In time it was clear that was a sign of what was to come as just a month later, O’Connor finished fourth at the Tour and won a spectacular stage in Tignes.

While he lacks the same explosivity of the likes of Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar, on his day O’Connor is one of the best climbers in the men’s WorldTour peloton.

The Aussie hasn’t raced since the end of the spring Classics. Although if the form is there, he could well challenge for a Dauphiné podium once more before another spectacular showing at the Tour.  

Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma)

Jonas Vingegaard

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Back in action for the first time since winning Itzulia Basque Country in April, Jonas Vingegaard is undoubtedly the favourite for the Dauphiné title. 

The reigning Tour de France champion won three stages on his way to overall victory in the Basque Country and looked unstoppable when the road went uphill. However, the Dane did not face the same kind of opposition that he was met with at both Paris-Nice and that he will face next week.

At Paris-Nice, Vingegaard will have been disappointed to have been dropped by the overall winner, Pogačar, three times in the high mountains.

The Slovenian won’t be present at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Nevertheless Vingegaard will be looking to make one final statement of intent before he heads to the Tour by dispatching the other challengers here.  

Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost)

Richard Carapaz

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ecuadorean and Olympic champion Richard Carapaz will lead his new team EF Education-EasyPost next week as he builds towards team leadership at the Tour in July.

As well as previously winning the Giro, Carapaz finished second at last year’s Italian Grand Tour and took third at the Tour two years ago. Those kinds of results, with his Olympic gold medal factored in, should make him on paper one of the best general classification riders currently operating.

However, he’s not yet shown the kind of form in 2023 which saw him achieve that Giro podium last year as well as three stage wins at the Vuelta a España.

Despite the relative lack of form, the 2023 Tour route suits Carapaz to perfection. A strong showing in the latter half of the Critérium du Dauphiné next week should put to bed any doubt that he isn’t capable of a strong ride this July.   

Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe)

Jai Hindley

(Image credit: Getty Images)

All eyes will be on Jai Hindley next week as he makes his Critérium du Dauphiné debut ahead of a debut at the Tour in July.

Last year’s Giro champion skipped the Italian Grand Tour this year due to the large amount of time trialling it involved and instead chose the Tour. The Australian climber has started 2023 in a relatively low key fashion, without any major wins or results but could be building towards peaking in the coming weeks instead.

Hindley has already beaten the likes of Carapaz and Landa, famously dropping the former on the Marmolada at the Giro as he snatched the pink jersey from Carapaz’s shoulders. However, he is yet to face the likes of Vingegaard and Pogačar on the big stage.

Expect to see the Aussie gunning for a stage win next week and a potential podium finish as a confidence boost before heading to Bilbao.  

Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious)

Mikel Landa

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Unlike some of the other contenders outlined here, Mikel Landa heads to the Dauphiné with a solid list of results to his name so far this Spring.

The 33-year-old Spaniard finished on the podium at Izulia Basque Country, taking a respectable second place behind Vingegaard. He also took third at La Flèche Wallonne behind Pogačar, finished fifth at the Volta a Catalunya and took seventh at Tirreno-Adriatico.

Ahead of leading Bahrain Victorious at the Tour, Landa will be looking to shine in the mountain stages in the south east of France as he builds form for the bigger tests to come.

While he has not won a race since the Vuelta a Burgos in 2021, his increase of form so far in 2023 suggests that a big result is just around the corner, perhaps next week. 

David Gaudu (Groupama FDJ)

David gaudu

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Gaudu is the next Frenchman to take over the mantle of being the next great French hope for success at the Tour.

Despite being blighted by illness in the latter half of his spring campaign, Gaudu and his Groupama-FDJ squad will have been given a real confidence boost by his strong showing at Paris-Nice which resulted in second overall behind Pogačar.

His result at Paris-Nice is his best result so far in the current season, and ever. Gaudu followed that up with fourth overall at Itzulia Basque Country.

An explosive climber, who has already proved to himself and those watching on that he can ride with the best, Gaudu will have the full backing of his team next week.

A stage win and maybe even another podium finish will then put him right into contention for the Tour podium, particularly with the amount of climbing the riders will face in July.  

Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates)

Adam Yates

(Image credit: Getty Images)

After joining UAE in the off-season, Yates will inevitably head to the Tour in service of Tadej Pogačar this July as the Slovenian looks to reclaim the overall title he conceded to Vingegaard last July.

Before heading to Bilbao, the Dauphiné presents the British rider with another opportunity to show the UAE hierarchy what he can do when given the opportunity to race for himself. A few weeks ago Yates took an impressive stage win on the way to overall victory at the Tour de Romandie, adding another WorldTour stage race to his list of solid results across the years.

Yates will arrive in France after an altitude training camp in the Sierra Nevada where he had Pogačar for company as the core of UAE’s Tour squad continued its preparation for July. Despite not racing since his win in Switzerland, Yates’ form suggests he’s more than capable of challenging Vingegaard in the battle for overall victory next week.  

Dani Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers)

Daniel Martínez

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ineos Grenadiers used to win the Criterium du Dauphiné for fun, enjoying a plethora of overall wins at the race since Bradley Wiggins took victory in 2011.

However, the British squad have lost their iron grip on all three Grand Tours of late and will be turning to Dani Martínez as one of their best hopes at the Tour this July. There is no doubt that Martínez has what it takes to get the job done next week and put himself in contention. The Colombian rider won the 2020 edition in the colours of his former team EF Education-EasyPost, but that was only after Primož Roglič withdrew on the final stage.

Martínez won the Volta ao Algarve earlier this year, although in the three months since that victory he has failed to set the world alight. With that said, Ineos can call upon the likes of Egan Bernal - who continues to make steady progress since his shocking training crash last year - as well as young Spaniard Carlos Rodríguez next week in support of the Colombian.

Between the three riders, there’s another there to challenge for the podium.  

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Tom Thewlis

Tom is a News and Features Writer at Cycling Weekly, and previously worked in communications at Oxford Brookes University. He has reported from a wide range of races and events including the Tour de France and World Championships.