The 2018 Critérium du Dauphiné hit its first mountain stage on Thursday, June 7, with a tough day from Chazey-sur-Ain to Lans-en-Vercors featuring a summit finish.
The first half of the stage is relatively flat before the half-way mark and the first categorised climb of the day, the fourth category Col de Toutes Aures. This is a mere warm-up for the next climb, the hors categorie Col du Mont Noir, stretching for 17.5 kilometres at an average gradient of 6.9 per cent.
Then there’s the sting in the tail: the 4.8-kilometre final climb to Lans-en-Vercors with an average gradient of 7.5 per cent and sections of over 10 per cent.
After two time trials and two hilly stages, the day should provide the first real chance for the climbers and general classification riders to show their hands.
Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) leads the general classification going into the stage, sitting ahead of Sky team-mates Gianni Moscon, Jonathan Castroviejo and Geraint Thomas in second, third and fourth place overall. The chances are that Sky will retain the overall lead after the stage: but which rider will occupy the yellow jersey?
On Friday, the climbing continues at the Dauphiné with stage five from Grenoble to Valmorel comprising 130km and a hors categorie final climb measuring 12.7 kilometres and an average gradient of seven per cent.
The 2018 Critérium du Dauphiné concludes on Sunday, June 10.