After the team managers meeting, 175 riders representing 22 teams are expected to line up at the Criterium du Dauphiné.Late entrant Joaquim Rodriguez was confirmed by Team Katusha. He’ll be a major contender for stage wins and the overall title.Two former winners of the Dauphiné will be present: Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov (1999) defending champion Janez Brajkovic from RadioShack while podium finishers Cadel Evans (second in 2007, 2008 and 2009), Haimar Zubeldia (second in 2000) and Andrey Kashechkin (third in 2007) also had have had positive experiences at the Alpine race.Apart from them, stage winners David Moncoutié (1999 and 2009), Samuel Dumoulin (2005), David Zabriskie (prologue and ITT in 2006), Fabian Wegmann (2006), Bradley Wiggins (prologue in 2007), Maxim Iglinskiy (2007), Yuriy Trofimov (2008), Chris Anker Sørensen (2008, La Toussuire), Dimitriy Fofonov (2008), Pierrick Fedrigo (2009), Grega Bole (2010), JJ Haedo (2010), Nicolas Vogondy (2010) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (2010) will put a number on their back with found memories when they’ll see “Dauphiné” on it, so will former kings of the mountains Rémy Di Gregorio (2007) and Pierre Rolland (2008).
© Presse SportsBradley Wiggins
Bradley Wiggins is in high spirits as he is about to start the Criterium du Dauphine, which starts on Sunday in St Jean de Maurienne.
On the road leading to the Tour de France, his goal will be to win the prologue and the time trial and to keep up with the bests in the mountains.
The Briton just beat TT machine Fabian Cancellara for the first time in a race against the clock when he won the fourth stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt, a 26-km time trial in Friedberg.
The Team Sky rider actually thrashed Cancellara, beating him by over 30 seconds on a flat route tailor-made for the Swiss.
« Beating Cancellara is a big satisfaction and it gives a lot of confidence, » said Wiggins.
Wiggins, who finished the 2009 Tour de France in fourth overall, is convinced he can achieve such a feat again, having learnt from last year's mistakes. In the 2010 Giro, which he was not supposed to ride full gas, Wiggins got carried away after snatching the pink jersey and he paid dearly for it on the Tour.
« I realised that I may have overcooked it and had five weeks to sort of turn it around and get it right for July, » Wiggins was quoted as saying. « This year, I have no taken part in the Giro and I have focused exclusively on the Tour de France, riding a lot of races in France. »
Wiggins took third place overall in Paris-Nice and won the Bayern Rundfahrt time-trial. So far, so good for the Team Sky leader, who will be the hot favourite for Sunday's 5.4-km prologue in St Jean de Maurienne.
Wednesday will be an even bigger day for him since the Grenoble time-trial is the exact same the riders will have to tackle in the Tour de France on July 23. A time trial specialist, Wiggins needs to build some confidence in the mountains. In the 2009 Tour, he managed to follow the bests in the Tourmalet, the Petit St Bernard and the Mont Ventoux, having benefited from Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador's rivalry.
He feels, however, he can be back to that level this year. On the Criterium du Dauphine, Wiggins will rely on the support of Simon Gerrans, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Geraint Thomas and Rigoberto Uran.
Thomas Voeckler is the third best performer in the world in terms of victories this year with eight, while Alberto Contador and Philippe Gilbert have nine each. The French champion has now the Dauphiné in sight.
“After the Four Days of Dunkirk [a race he won overall, ed.], I spent two weeks at home and I slowed down at training a little bit”, Voeckler explained. “I rode the Bayern Rundfahrt, so I’ll come to the Dauphiné with an acceptable condition. I’m not an adept of altitude training, so I haven’t done any but that doesn’t bother me.”
“The Dauphiné is one of the hyper important races of the year”, he continued. “It’s like Paris-Nice but the difference is that it’s close to the Tour de France, so the pressure is coming, but I actually don’t feel any pressure for myself for the Tour de France. I have the Dauphiné in mind. It’s not a preparation race. For me, every race is a goal. Our team Europcar is invited, so we have to prove ourselves worth the invitation. On Thursday I’ve had a look at the course; I wouldn’t like to be a sprinter in this race. I adapt myself to all the courses. I’m motivated by every stage in this race, not by one in particular. One week of racing is short, so if you wait for the final week-end for going in a breakaway and if you miss it, you’re left with nothing.”
© Presse SportsIvan Basso
Ivan Basso comes back for racing. On May 17, he crashed during the training camp he went for on the Etna volcano in Sicily.
He didn’t contest the race he won last year because all his focus is on the Tour de France this year. His face was badly affected. He appeared on Italian TV with fifteen stitches and tape. His preparation for the Tour de France has been seriously jeopardized and he counts on the Dauphiné to get the time lost back.“Now I’m still trying to recover from my crash”, Basso told letour.fr from Gap where he spent a night before reaching Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne for the prologue of the Dauphiné to be contested on Sunday. “I’m here to reconnoitre an Alpine stage of the Tour de France and I’ll do more of that just after the Dauphiné.”“After my crash, I’ve had a complete week of stop and I’ve resumed training slowly”, Basso added. “I’ve been struggling quite a lot since. I’m getting better but my form is far behind where I wanted to be. Therefore, my ambitions for the Dauphiné are absolutely non existing. I’m coming to look for the right race rhythm for the Tour de France. This is an important week for me. I won’t be able to deliver results but I’ve looked at the course of the Dauphiné and the number of uphill stage finishes will help to make the efforts I need right now.”
© Presse SportsJoaquim Rodriguez
Joaquim Rodriguez wasn’t scheduled for racing the Dauphiné but after finishing the Giro d’Italia on a high note, he decided to go for one more race. The characteristics of the course actually make him a hot favourite for the Dauphiné, providing that he has recovered from the three weeks of racing in Italy.
“I want to take the benefit given by three weeks of racing”, Rodriguez said to explain his last minute decision to compete in the Dauphiné. “In France, I want the stage win I’ve lacked in Italy.”The Catalan rider isn’t expected to perform on Sunday’s prologue in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne as he’s kind of allergic to flat individual time trials. At last year’s Tour de France from Bordeaux to Pauillac, “Purito” finished 154th out of 170 starters. At the Vuelta a España one and half month later, the climber from Katusha finished 107th of the 46-km long time trial in Peñafiel out 159 riders and he dropped down from first to fourth place overall. But in the closing time trial of the Giro in Milan last Sunday, he clocked the 40th best time from 159 competitors left in the race, a performance that allowed him to maintain his fifth place overall against the likes of Roman Kreuziger and Denis Menchov who virtually threatened him.“This is almost a victory for me”, Rodriguez said after crossing the line in piazza Duomo. He has slowed down since Sunday. “The truth is that I haven’t taken any rest, really”, he revealed. “I’ve trained almost every day for four hours with intensities. After a race as difficult as the Giro, it’s logical to be tired but it’s also true that when an engine is hot, it can perform. Four uphill finishes at the Dauphiné mean four opportunities for me to win. And there’s also the 42-km time trial that I want to do flat out to get confirmation of my progresses in this speciality during the Giro.”Rodriguez will captain the Katusha team at the Dauphiné with seven Russian team-mates: Vladimir Gusev, Mikhail Ignatyev, Sergei Ivanov, Vladimir Karpets, Alexander Kolobnev, Egor Silin and Yuriy Trofimov.
© Presse SportsPierrick Fédrigo
Is it a sign of the times ? The five French teams on the Criterium du Dauphine will start the race with some ambition. This year's results show that they have improved and since they've been dominating the French events since February, they will be out to cause havoc in the favourites' race in the Alps.
On the 15 stage races held in France since February, only Paris-Nice, the Tour de Bretagne and the Criterium du Dauphine have been won by a non-French team.
Victory in the Criterium du Dauphine would definitely cement the recent successes.
The week long race is the opportunity, for France, to add to their impressive tally (67 wins this year to Italy's 57, Germany's 49, Spain's 42, Belgium's 32, Australia's 29, the Netherlands's 28).
Ag2R-La Mondiale : After John Gadret finished an impressive fourth overall in the Giro d'Italia to give France their best result in a Grand Tour in 10 years, AG2R-La Mondiale will count on Nicolas Roche (6th overall in the 1010 Vuelta) and Jean-Christophe Peraud to snatch a prestigious win. This week in the Alps will also be the opportunity for Blel Kadri to show he is one of the top French riders.
Cofidis : With Rein Taaramae (4th in Paris-Nice in March) and David Moncoutie, the best climber in the Vuelta for the past three years, Cofidis have two riders who are eager to shine. Samuel Dumoulin will have the opportunity to show in Lyon that he is a good finisher, while Nicolas Vogondy is among those who can hope for a solid performance in the Grenoble time trial.
Europcar : Thomas Voeckler has been impressive this season and he will likely be doing everything he can to win a stage on the Criterium du Dauphine. That will be his goal. Pierre Rolland is more likely to target a decent overall finish, while Anthony Charteau, who claimed the polka dot jersey on the 2010 Tour de France, will try to hit his stride in the mountains.
FDJ : Those expected to take part in the Tour de France – except for two or three riders – will be there. Sandy Casar and Pierrick Fedrigo have obvious qualities. Arnold Jeannesson will look to show his climbing abilities. But all eyes will be on the 21-year-old Thibaut Pinot, who will not be on the Tour de France and has made of the Criterium du Dauphine his main objective of the season. He could be the revelation of the week.
Saur-Sojasun : Jerome Coppel, who was fifth overall in the Criterium du Dauphine, will naturally be Stephane Heulot's team leader. On the road leading to the Tour, the race will be the opportunity to asses the form of Coppel's team mates, especially the climbers (Fabrice Jeandesboz, Guillaume Levarlet, Julien Simon and Yannick Talabardon).
© Presse SportsCadel Evans
With Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie already under his belt this year, Cadel Evans can target his one and only goal with a peaceful mind : the Tour de France. On the road leading to July, the Australian will be riding the Criterium du Dauphine, an ultimate test that will also give him the opportunity to finally win a race he finished in second place in 2007, 08 and 09.
In 2010, the BMC team leader had set his sight on a Giro and Tour double, but it proved to be too much to handle. This year, Evans opted for a lighter programme. The 2010 season is one of his bests and even though he rejects the favourite tag on the Criterium du Dauphine, he will be the man to beat on a race that is tailor-made for him.
« Since the Tour de Romandie, I trained and rested with the Tour de France in mind because it is my big objective, » he said. « I went to a training camp in altitude and checked out a few important Tour de France stages. I will check out some others after the Criterium du Dauphine. It will be an interesting race to assess my form and that of other riders who were not on the Giro. I'm not going there with great expectations. It is a test, not an objective. »
However, Evans is not a newcomer on the race and he also checked out a few important stages: Sunday's prologue in St-Jean de Maurienne (he won the Nancy prologue in 2009), Wednesday's time trial in Grenoble and the two mountain stages of the weekend. « Obviously, depending on how the race goes, I could get carried away as it happened to me in the past already. I like this race and its mountains. But I did not check out all the stages in detail. All I know is that there are several mountain top finishes, which I will probably like. The most important test for me will be the Grenoble time trial because it's the same that on the Tour de France. This, I know ! As for the rest, I can improvise, without any pressure. »
That's exactly what the former world champion did on Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie this year. He let others control the race, did not ask too much to his team mates before dealing a fatal blow to his rivals. In Italy, he snatched the overall leader's jersey on the fifth day and won the stage on the sixth, on the eve of the finish. In Switzerland, he claimed the overall lead with a strong performance in the time trial, one day before the finish. Evans, 34, has yet to prevail in a Grand Tour. But he already knows how to win one-week races.
© Presse SportsJurgen Van den Broeck
Jurgen Van den Broeck's performance in 2010 was the perfect example that the Criterium du Dauphine is a good fitness indicator for the Tour de France contenders. During the Tour, the Belgian followed up nicely on his Criterium du Dauphine performance and it comes as no surprise that he intends to do exactly the same this year.
The 28-year-old Van den Broeck, who is looking for his first victory since claiming Zellik-Galmaarden in 2003, will be out to confirm that he will be one of the dark horses in July.
This year's Criterium du Dauphine is a special one for it will feature Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's Tour contenders. Next week will be capital for Van den Broeck, Robert Gesink, Cadel Evans, Alexandre Vinokourov, Ivan Basso, Janez Brajkovic, Samuel Sanchez and Bradley Wiggins.
« My whole season is based on the Tour de France, » the Omega Pharma Lotto team leader said.
« But the Criterium du Dauphine, which I finished in fourth place overall in 2010, has a special place in my programme. »
After riding the Ardennes classics as one of Philippe Gilbert's lieutenants, the Flemish shifted his focus onto the Tour de France. He first went to check out the Pyrenean stages, then the Alpine stages this week, adding a few training camps in altitude after his team – who know he is a workaholic, let him free to decide what was best for his preparation.
« We fully support him. This season, he worked for Philippe Gilbert and Andre Greipel, but in July, both will be at his service, » his boss Marc Sergeant said.
« It will be his Tour even if Philippe and Andre are extremely motivated by the first week of the race. We have been building a team spirit that Jurgen will benefit from. For the Criterium du Dauphine, we did not set any goal. We would be happy if he could finish fourth like last year, although victory is not impossible. »
The design of the Criterium du Dauphine suits Van den Broeck perfectly. If successful, he would become the fourth Belgian to win the week long race after Alex Close (1956), Eddy Merckx (1971) and Michel Pollentier (1978).
« In 2010, I finished fourth in the Criterium du Dauphine and fifth in the Tour de France. In July, I want to be on the Tour podium. No need to tell you how this last race before the Tour is important to me, » said Van den Broeck.
© Presse SportsMatthew Busche
© ASOTony Martin
© Presse SportsThibault Pinot
Being a demanding stage race, the Criterium du Dauphine, is usually meant for seasoned riders, but Janez Brajkovic's victory last came as a reminder that in cycling, there is always room for upsets with young prospects eager to shine against the old guard of the sport. This year, when the race starts from St Jean de Maurienne, many youngsters will be out to make their point.
Matthew Busche (26 years old, RadioShack)
The newly crowned US champion will show the 'Stars and Stripes' jersey on the Criterium du Dauphine as a team leader Janez Brajkovic's domestique de luxe. He was Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer's gregario in the Tour of California, bursting into the limelight in the Mount Baldy climb. "He does not have a great technique, his tactics are bad, but he is very very strong," sports director Alain Gallopin said. "I can't wait to see him on the Criterium du Dauphine."
Tony Martin (26, HTC-Highroad)
Tony Martin is not exactly a newcomer, having won Paris-Nice this year. He is one of the most powerful riders but this year's Criterium du Dauphine is an important test for him. It will show if he is able to take it to the next level in the mountains. The Grand Cucheron, the Collet d’Allevard and the Col du Glandon will tell.
Ramunas Navardauskas (23, Garmin-Cervelo)
The Lithuanian, who has tremendous power, was the revelation of the last Tour of Turkey. With his team mate Thomas Peterson, then the overall leader of the race, in his wheel, he held off a 25-man breakaway over 50 kilometres. The former rider of the VC La Pomme-Marseille could impress during the Criterium du Dauphine, where he should be able to follow his instincts.
Thibaut Pinot (21, FDJ)
The FDJ rider claimed the best climber's jersey of the Tour de Romandie in 2010 in his first year as a professional. He also finished third of the fifth stage of the Criterium du Dauphine at the top of Chamrousse last year, ending the week long race in the top 20.
The Criterium du Dauphine is Pinot's main objective of the year. Strong performances on the Tour of Turkey (3rd), the Tour de Rhone-Alpes Isere (2nd) and the Bayern Rundfahrt (7th) showed he has been gearing up well for the race.
"I can't wait to climb those moutains, I can't wait for the mountain-top finishes," he said. "There are four of them in the Criterium du Dauphine. Oh yes, I can't wait !"
Rein Taaramae (24, Cofidis)
This allrounder was said to be one of the special ones when he started his career. Cofidis gave him a team leader role that he is able to assume physically, although the slender Estonian has to improve mentally.
The 2009 Vuelta (74th) and his retirement from the 2010 Tour de France showed he could crack under pressure.
This year, he finished third overall of the Criterium International and fourth at Paris-Nice. He must confirm next week.
© Presse SportsJérôme Coppel
Hailed as the leading top prospect in French cycling, Jerome Coppel will definitely be one to watch on the Criterium du Dauphine. The 24-year old leader of the Saur-Sojasun team, who has set his sights on the Tour de France, which he’ll ride for the second time, will be out to confirm he is on his way up with a good result next week.Last year, the rider from the Haute Savoie region finished the race a decent fifth overall after keeping up with the big guns in the sixth stage to L’Alpe d’Huez, where he took fourth place.
© ASOBernard Thévenet
When ASO became the Criterium du Dauphine organisers in 2010, they asked Bernard Thevenet to be the race director.
The twice Tour de France champion, who also won the Dauphine in 1975 and 76, lives near Grenoble, knows the surrounding roads very well and he is proud to be at the helm of a race that has been part of the build-up for the Tour de France since it was created in 1947.
« There are several reasons why the Criterium du Dauphine is important for the Tour de France favourites, » he said. « With eight stages, including several in the mountains, it is a good indicator of the riders’ form. When you’re bad in the Criterium, it is likely that your Tour will not be easy. Meanwhile, you still have two weeks before the start and you still have time to adjust and work on a few weaknesses. And you can’t do this after the Tour de Suisse. It is also a nice line to add to your list. The Criterium du Dauphine is a preparation but most of all, it’s a race you want to win. »
In 2011, neither Alberto Contador, nor Andy Schleck, who finished first and second respectively in the 2010 Tour de France, will take part in the event but other contenders will be on the starting line in St Jean de Maurienne: Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso, Alexandre Vinokourov, Robert Gesink, Bradley Wiggins, Samuel Sanchez, Tony Martin, Juergen van den Broeck and defending champion Janez Brajkovic.
The race, in which French riders look set to play their part, is likely to be a tense affair.
« The difference between now and my time, is that the Tour is on the riders’ mind three months before the start and it is a race that is meant for those who care about it only. The Criterium du Dauphine is also in a fiercer competition with the Tour de Suisse, the Giro and some other events like the Tour of California but its interest is the same and the riders who take the start are aware that it is a major race in the calendar, » said Thevenet.
However, so that every rider on the race finds what he’s looking for, Bernard Thevenet designed a balanced route with two mountain stages, two hilly stages and a very demanding time trial in Grenoble – the very same one that will be tackled by the riders on the eve of the Tour de France parade in Paris.
« It’s a first. This never happened before and it will obviously be a genuine test for the Tour contenders, not just a reconnaissance. All kind of riders will find what they’re looking for in this route. The two big difficulties of the week will be this time trial and the ascent to the Col du Glandon before the finish in La Toussuire on the last day, » said Thevenet.
© Presse SportsJanez Brajkovic
Criterium du Dauphine defending champion Janez Brajkovic will be back in early June on the roads where he burst into the limelight and it is with renewed ambition that he will take the start of the ASO-owned event on June 5 in St Jean de Maurienne.
The 27-year-old Slovenian rider has reached a turning point in his career and he is fully aware of that. Brajkovic made his breakthrough in 2004 when he claimed the Under-21 titme trial world title, following up nicely when he snatched the overall lead in the 2006 Vuelta a Espana.
Then his career stalled. Although he won the Tour of Georgia in 2007 and became a Slovenian time trial champion the following year, his class really showed during last year's Dauphine when he won the third stage, a 49-km time trial in Sorgues, and when he held off the mighty Alberto Contador on the climb to l'Alpe d'Huez.
Few have such an achievement under their belt.
"This victory against Contador gave me the confidence I needed and I believe I can do that on a grand tour one day," said Brajkovic. "In 2010, my team had me ride the Criterium du Dauphine and the Tour of Spain - wich we eventually did not take part in. Following my strong showing on the Dauphine, it was logical that I ride the Tour de France but in July, I gradually ran out of steam (43rd overall). This year, the main objective is the Tour but the Dauphine is part of my preparations and it is very important that I ride solidly."
With Contador opting out, Brajkovic will definitely be one of those gunning for the title, although victory will not be the Slovenian's top priority. "I'll be preparing for the race the week before in the Briancon region and then I'll target two stages: the time trial and the main mountain stage," Brajkovic explained. If he rides them well, Brajkovic, nicknamed 'Jani' by his team mates, should not be too far from top spot overall.
"One thing is sure, he'll be ready when it starts in St Jean de Maurienne," Team Radioshack sports director said.
"He works very hard, he could be on a training camp in Tenerife all year round. We have to cool him down. He is a rider whose peaks of form are pretty short so the goal is that he is at 100 pc on the Tour. Not before. I can just underline that he managed decent performances on Paris-Nice (7th overall) and the Tour de Romandie (7th) and that's the least we can expect from hom on the Dauphine. I also know that the route is tougher than last year and that's better for him."
But Gallopin would not say Brajkovic is the favourite. "The favourite is Cadel Evans. This year, he won two stage races, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie. I really don't see who could beat him."
Team Radioshack on the Criterium du Dauphine : Janez Brajkovic, Matthew Busche, Ben Hermans, Markel Irizar, Geoffroy Lequatre, Jason McCartney, Sergio Paulinho and Haimar Zubeldia.
© ASOJanez Brajkovic
© Presse SportsCadel Evans
© ASOTony Martin
The field of elite riders enrolled for the Critérium du Dauphiné promises a particularly intense and open battle for victory. The expected confrontations on the climbs in the Alps or on the time-trial in Grenoble will also be good markers for what is in store at only several weeks before the start of the Tour de France.
The demonstrations, psychological battles and speculation are set to start. At this stage of the season, the riders’ strength and focus can be somewhat scattered, but on examining the list of participants ten days before the start of the Critérium du Dauphiné, it is glaringly obvious that the handful of riders who occupy the summit of rankings at the end of the week will also feature in the exclusive list of favourites for the next Tour de France. On even closer examination, it is possible to highlight around a dozen pretenders to a podium place on the Dauphiné, who should also have their say in the matter come the month of July. Such is the case for some of road cycling’s glory boys, who have already picked up similar titles, like Cadel Evans (winner of Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Romandy this year), Samuel Sanchez (4th on Le Tour in 2010), Alexandre Vinokourov (3rd on the Tour of Romandy 2011), Ivan Basso (winner of the Tour of Italy 2010) or Bradley Wiggins (3rd on Paris-Nice). However, the elders will have to defend their places against the new generation: referred to as up and coming riders not so long ago, these names are now well on the way to making their mark amongst the elite. Today, you cannot talk about favourites without mentioning Tony Martin (winner of the Tour of Algarve and Paris-Nice, 2nd on the Tour of Romandy). Reine Taaramae (4th on Paris-Nice, 3rd on the Critérium International) also merits inclusion in this category, as well as Jurgen Van den Broeck (5th on Le Tour 2010), Robert Gesink (6th on Le Tour 2010, winner of the Tour of Oman, 2nd on Tirreno-Adriatico) or even Jérôme Coppel (2nd on the Tour of Murcia, 5th on the Tour of Castile-Leon). Let’s also not forget the title holder, Janez Brajkovic, whose season in 2010 was mainly focused on the Dauphiné, but who may have perhaps changed his priorities this year. After all, one yellow jersey can lead to another…
The main participants (on 24th May)
AG2R: Roche (Irl), Péraud (Fra); BMC Racing Team: Evans (Aus), Phinney (Usa), Moinard (Fra); Cofidis, le Crédit en ligne: Taaramae (Est), Dumoulin, Moncoutié (Fra); Euskaltel-Euskadi: S.Sanchez, E.Martinez (Spa); FDJ: Casar (Fra) Fédrigo (Fra), Jeannesson (Fra); HTC-Highroad: Martin (Ger); Katusha Team: Karpets, Ivanov, Kolobnev (Rus); Lampre-ISD: Bole (Slo) ; Liquigas-Cannondale: Basso (Ita); Movistar Team: Costa (Por), Gutierrez (Spa); Omega Pharma-Lotto: Van den Broeck, Roelandts (Bel); Pro Team Astana: Vinokourov (Kaz), Di Gregorio (Fra); Quick Step Cycling Team: Seeldrayers (Bel); Rabobank Cycling Team: LL.Sanchez (Spa), Gesink, Boom (Hol); Saur-Sojasun: Coppel, Hivert (Fra); Saxo Bank Sungard: N.Sorensen (Dan), J-J.Haedo (Arg); Sky Procycling: Wiggins (Gbr), Gerrans (Aus), Boasson-Hagen (Nor), Thomas (Gbr); Team Europcar: Voeckler (Fra), Rolland (Fra); Team Garmin-Cervelo: Farrar (Usa), Le Mével (Fra); Team Leopard Trek: B. Feillu (Fra), Posthuma (Hol); Team RadioShack: Brajkovic (Slo), Lequatre (Fra); Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team: Westra (Hol)
© Presse SportsJacques Anquetil
© Presse SportsBernard Hinault
© Presse SportsLuis Herrera
© Presse SportsMiguel Indurain
Tho "Who's who" of the Dauphiné...
1954: Nello Lauredi (FRA)
This Italian rider, naturalised French in 1948, only managed to crack the Top 10 once in a total of nine starts in the Tour de France, but he was able to thrive in the Dauphiné. He was the first rider to win the race three times.
1955: Louison Bobet (FRA)
Bobet flaunted his superiority on the roads of the Dauphiné just before becoming the first three-time Tour de France winner.
1965: Jacques Anquetil (FRA)
The Norman attempted a crazy exploit right after his victory. He rushed into the presidential airplane, made available to him by General de Gaulle, to take part in the Bordeaux-Paris classic, which was due to start at 2 am. Anquetil won that race the next day, performing one of the most spectacular physical feats in the history of cycling.
1969: Raymond Poulidor (FRA)
"Poupou", the perennial runner-up to Anquetil in the Tour de France, managed to win the Dauphiné twice.
1971: Eddy Merckx (BEL)
The Cannibal's appetite was somewhat diminished on the roads of the Dauphiné, a race he often missed following his victorious Giro campaigns. When he did come in 1971, he made his presence felt by taking the top spot.
1973: Luis Ocaña (SPA)
Luis Ocaña found the winning formula in the Dauphiné. Having already won the race twice before thanks to his exhibitions on the steepest climbs, he equalled the record in 1973. He claimed his only Tour de France shortly afterwards.
1981: Bernard Hinault (FRA)
He took his third win in 1981, but it was his exhibition in the 1977 edition which became a piece of cycling history. He fell into a ravine on his way down the Col de Porte, and got back onto his bike covered in blood. Nevertheless, the young Breton hung tough and prevailed over Bernard Thévenet, the winner of the two previous editions. A star was born.
1987: Charly Mottet (FRA)
"Petit Charly" was literally at home in the Dauphiné. His region was the backdrop for the battles in which he challenged the big guns of the peloton. It was also the scene for his first big win in 1987. He joined the triple champion club in 1992. He actually got to know the race so well that he went on to manage it together with Thierry Cazeneuve.
1991: Luis Herrera (COL)
Colombians, and "Lucho" in particular, are used to putting the hammer down from the moment the road bends towards the sky. After winning the Vuelta in 1987, he joined fellow Colombian Martín Ramírez on the Dauphiné's roll of honour in 1988 and got his repeat win in 1991. Cardenas, Mejía, Rincón and later Botero also climbed onto the race's podium.
1996: Miguel Indurain (SPA)
After winning in 1995, Indurain continued to stamp his authority in the 1996 edition of the Dauphiné. No-one knew yet that the Basque's reign was about to end…
2007: Christophe Moreau (FRA)
Although he took his first win in 2001, at the relatively late age of 30, Moreau went on to become the "longest-lived" double winner of the race, with six years separating his two victories.
From June 5 to 12, the peloton of the Critérium du Dauphiné will be a who's who of global cycling. The “July feel” will be even more intense in this 63rd edition than in previous ones, since the time trial in Grenoble is a carbon copy of the ITT riders will tackle in the penultimate stage of the Tour de France. The world elite is ready to get down to business.
The climbs of the 2011 Dauphiné are among the most renowned in the cycling universe, with four summit finishes on the menu this time around. Without a shadow of a doubt, all eyes will be cast on those who specialise in steep gradients. It will also be an opportunity to assess the riders' form less than three weeks before the Grande Boucle kicks off.
The highlights among the main contenders are Cadel Evans (BMC), 2010 Giro champion Ivan Basso (LIQ), Alexander Vinokourov (AST), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (OLO), Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez (EUS) and Robert Gesink (RAB), winner of the Tour of Oman. They will be racing with one clear goal in mind: to usurp the crown of 2010 victor Janez Brajkovič.
Young prodigies could also have their say and join the battle alongside the big guns. Rein Taaramäe (COF) will be determined to confirm the good results he achieved during the early season, just like Richie Porte (SBS), who shone on the roads of the 2010 Giro. On the French side, Thomas Voeckler (EUC) will be spearheading the tricolore armada. The Gauls will also count on Rémy Di Gregorio (AST), who took a monstrous stage in Paris-Nice earlier this year, as well as Jérôme Coppel (SAU), who finished 5th in 2010. Pierrick Fédrigo (FDJ), David Moncoutié (COF), Anthony Charteau (EUC) and Brice Feillu (LEO) are also intent on carrying the banner for their respective teams.
22 teams, main contenders
Omega Pharma-Lotto (OLO): Van Den Broeck (BEL)
Quick-Step (QST): Seeldrayers (BEL)
Saxo Bank-SunGard (SBS): Porte (AUS), Haedo (ARG)
Euskaltel-Euskadi (EUS): S. Sánchez (SPA), E. Martínez (SPA)
Movistar Team (MOV): Soler (COL), Tondo (SPA)
BMC Racing Team (BMC): Evans (AUS)
HTC-Highroad (THR): Goss (AUS), Degenkolb (GER)
Team Garmin-Cervélo (GRM): Millar (GBR), Vansummeren (BEL)
Team RadioShack (RSH): Brajkovič (SLO)
Sky Procycling (SKY): Rogers (Aus)
AG2R La Mondiale (ALM): Péraud (FRA)
Cofidis, le Crédit en Ligne (COF): Taaramäe (EST), Moncoutié (FRA), Dumoulin (FRA)
FDJ (FDJ): Fédrigo (FRA), Casar (FRA)
Saur-Sojasun (SAU): Coppel (FRA)
Team Europcar (EUC): Charteau (FRA), Voeckler (FRA)
Lampre-ISD (LAM): Bole (SLO)
Liquigas-Cannondale (LIQ): Basso (ITA)
Astana (AST): Vinokourov (KAZ), Di Gregorio (FRA)
Team Leopard-Trek (LEO): Feillu (FRA) Posthuma (NET), Wegmann (GER)
Rabobank Cycling Team (RAB): Gesink (NET)
Vacansoleil (VCD): Westra (NET), Carrara (Ita)
Katusha Team (KAT): Gusev (RUS), Ivanov (RUS)
© Presse Sports
The announcement of the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné route has revealed a parcours where punchers, one-day climbers and pure mountain goats will all have their say.
A win in the Critérium du Dauphiné stands out in any rider’s palmarès. The duels in this race, only weeks before the Tour de France, also make it a pivotal moment in the season from a psychological point of view. From June 5 to 12, riders will be aiming to stamp their authority during what will be a very intense week. Contenders will have a rich assortment of climbs on the menu to achieve this goal. Five of the six road stages in the programme of the 63rd edition will be decided on summit finishes, ranging from a short, steep climb in Lyon to the relatively easy slopes of Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse and the Les Gets station, as well as mountains where only pure climbers can shine, like the Collet d’Allevard or La Toussuire. On its way there, the peloton will ascend famous climbs such as the Grand Cucheron or the Croix de Fer.
This great variety of climbs leaves the door wide open for many riders to try and grab a stage win, but logic dictates that sprinters will only get one shot at glory: Mâcon. Wednesdays in the Dauphiné are often very important for morale, as they are the riders’ last chance to test their legs on a long time trial before the Tour de France. The message sent to other riders by the winner will be even more loud and clear this time round, since the stage route around Grenoble is exactly the same which is in store for the riders one month later, the day before reaching Paris.