Roglic, Wout van Aert, Froome and McNulty headline Critérium du Dauphiné
The Critérium du Dauphiné is the final lead up to the Tour de France, which means you can expect a spectacle of animated racing with the worlds best climbers and general classification contenders
This year the race route is designed for the climbers with the final 4 stages full of new roads and new climbs providing a greater challenge for the expected Tour de France contenders.
The route for the 2022 Critérium du Dauphiné (June 5 -12) has hardly any flat stages and two tough back to back mountain stages on the final weekend. The Critérium du Dauphiné is a prelude to the 2022 Tour de France (July 1 - 24).
This year's 8-day stage race will suit the GC favorites who can climb and time trial. The race visits Sancy for the first time, the highest peak of the Auvergne volcanos. Sprinters will have a hard time finding anything to cheer about as the race is pretty hilly with not much opportunity for pure fast men.
Jumbo Visma field a strong team headed by Primož Roglic with Wout van Aert, Tiesj Benoot, Jonas Vingegaard, Rohan Dennis, Christophe Laporte and Steven Kruijswijk to keep him company, he return after two years.
Brandon McNulty heads up UAE Team Emirates with Rafal Majka and George Bennett to support him.
Chris Froome, who crashed badly in the 2019 editon will head up Israel - Premier Tech and be looking to continue his return to his former racing prowess.
Tao Geoghegan Hart will head up Ineos Grenadiers with Filippo Ganna and Ethan Hayter supporting. Defending champion Richie Porte will not be taking part after the Giro d'Italia.
There are a few stages for the sprinters with Dylan Groenewegen the top favorite to take a stage win.
David Gadu heads up Groupama - FDJ and has Michael Storer for company.
Enric Mas heads up the Movistar Team and Jack Haid heads up Bahrain - Victorious along with Dylan Teuns, Damiano Caruso and Pello Bilbao.
On paper, Jumbo Visma, Ineos Grenadiers, Bahrain - Victorious and UAE Team Emirates look to be the strongest teams.
Stage 1 is a hilly finishing circuit. The race is will suit puncheurs like Sam Bennett as the race passes the Loire valley and climbs clifftops before the finish in the pretty medieval town of Beauchastel.
Stage 2 should see a battle between the breakaway and the sprinters on a stage that goes past the source of the river Loire, France’s longest river before a finish in Brives-Charensac, just outside the town of Le Puy en Velay. There’s climbing en route but often at a steady gradient.
Stage 3 is the first ski station summit finish, only this is more a car park and a couple of huts on the side of the Sancy, the highest peak of the Auvergne volcanos.
Stage 4 is a 31.9km time trial, a dress rehearsal for the Tour de France’s 40km TT on Stage 20. Held in the Loire valley it’s one for the specialists and this region isn’t known to be windy in June. The 30 km Time Trial should shape the race, it’s a big test especially when compared to the Giro or Vuelta time trials.
Stage 5 includes a trip through the tiny village of Le Guidon, birthplace of Dauphiné and Tour de France winner Bernard Thévenet, who has also been an organiser and an ambassador for the race. This is the most sprint-friendly stage but there’s some late climbing amid the Pouilly-Fuissé vineyards before a finish in Chaintré, wine country just south of the city of Macon.
Stage 6 and the very last chance for any win from the sprinters. A climb via the Grands Goulets tunnel to the Vercors plateau, across the underrated Diois region, a scenic place often outdone by the nearby Vercors but often quieter. It’s all on big roads before the finish in Gap where there’s an unmarked climb just before the finish.
Stage 7 the Queen Stage tackles the Lautaret onto the Galibier right from the flag. There’s only a little bit of valley time mid-stage before the hard Croix de Fer. Then if the final climb to Vaujany is short, it stings from the start.
Stage 8 goes uphill towards Mont Revard with a harder climb that the stats say. Then things settle down as the race crosses the Bauges mountains, before lapping the southern shores of Lake Annecy and taking the unmarked Col du Marais. Then comes the Colombière, 11km in the roadbook but with 11km of climbing to get to the start of the climb, but not too steep. The race used this route in 2017 when Richie Porte (BMC) was leading the race but got overtaken by his former colleague at Team Sky, Chris Froome on the descent of the Colombière, Jakob Fuglsang won the stage atop the hard Plateau de Solaison climb.
The two summit finishes on the final weekend are relatively short, but hard stages, the hardest climbs in the Alps come early in the stages and should reveal who's on form for the Tour de France in July.