2013 Critérium du Dauphiné Race Preview

The spring season is basically over, and it’s time for one of the key races that the riders and teams use to fine-tune their summer form going into the Tour De France. The Critérium du Dauphiné offers the riders an eight stage opportunity to test their legs against many of the same competitors that they will face in the Tour De France--and a small glance at some of the upcoming Tour De France route.

The 2013 Critérium du Dauphiné route

The 65th edition of the Dauphiné begins this Sunday, June 2 in Champéry, Switzerland and ends the following Sunday in Risoul, France. The race is eight stages long and covers about 1138 kilometers in total. This year’s edition is particularly hilly, with four climbing finishes (2 big ones), and only one or two potential legitimate bunch-sprint stages. It also includes a 32.5 km flat individual time trial on stage 4.

Part of stage 8 of the Dauphiné includes the renowned 21 switchbacks of the Alpe d’Huez climb, followed by a short descent and climb over the Col de Sarenne. This same section of the route will feature in stage 18 of the Tour De France next month, so the riders can get some practice in.  The TDF route however, will then climb Alpe d’Huez a second time, the summit hosting that stage’s finish.

No time bonuses at the Dauphiné stage finishes means riders will have to attack the leaders and try to gain valuable time in the hills or in the time trial.  This will not be easy since many of the Tour favorites will be here testing themselves and each other’s prowess.

As usual the Critérium du Dauphiné has drawn most of the Tour De France favorites. The winner of the last two editions, Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky, has dropped out of the race, citing lingering illness and knee pain from his Giro d’Italia crash. He says the residual suffering is preventing him from training effectively. He has also withdrawn his name from Team Sky’s Tour De France roster. I guess that ends the yearlong debate over who Team Sky’s Tour leader will actually be.  It is difficult to say how much support Chris Froome might have expected from Wiggins in the mountains. So…


Chris Froome (Team Sky), Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Sammy Sanchez (Euskatel), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto Belisol), and Andrew Talansky (Garmin Sharp).

The favorites: Froome and Contador
Some others who are hoping for big results include Damiano Cunego (Lampre), Tony Martin (Omega Pharma Quickstep), Jerome Coppel (Cofidis), Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Roland (Europcar), Thomas De Gendt and Wout Poels (Vacansoleil), Haimar Zubeldia (Radioshack), Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge), Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ), Maciej Bodnar (Cannondale), and Leopold Konig and Jan Barta (NetApp).

Froome and Contador are the big favorites. Contador has been gradually building his form to peak in the Tour de France, so he’ll be expecting to do well on the climbs and in the time trial this week. Froome has looked strong all season, winning two stage races and earning several other high finishes, so he will be looking to maintain--and improve on—the dominant form he has already showed.


Despite the dearth of pure sprint stages, the following fastmen will be among those contesting the sprints: Gianni Meersman (OPQ), Elia Viviani (CAN), Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ), Flecha and Boeckmans (VCD), Michael Matthews (OGE), Xavier Florencio (KAT), Michel Kreder (GRS); Team Sky bring a strong sprint contingent with Edvald Boasson Hagen, Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard and Peter Kennaugh; Astana have Gavazzi and Grivko; and BMC will try to get Thor Hushovd a stage win.

Right now it looks like some rain is expected in the region this week, with temperatures in Champéry for Sunday’s stage 1 in the 50’s (f).  The 121-kilometer opening stage is scheduled to run from about 6 a.m. to about 9 a.m. EDT (11:55 a.m. to about 3 p.m. CET). The stages are running a little early to leave the broadcasters time for the French Open (Roland Garros) tennis tournament.

My pick for the overall win: Sky’s TDF leader, Chris Froome.
Stage 1 pick: He hasn’t raced in six weeks, but I’ll go with Tony Gallopin (RSL).

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