This coming June 5-12, the Critérium du Dauphiné will host the world’s best cyclists for a battle of titans in the Alps and a new time trial from the Les Gets ski resort to the finish at Superdévoluy. Defending race winner, Chris Froome, who has been less dominating this season, will have to fend off attacks from Contador, Porte, Aru, Pinot and Bardet… all of whom want to win ahead of the Tour de France.
The time for them to meet up again nears. But while, for the most part, the contenders are the same, the conditions of their arrival on the scene have largely changed: with the transfers since the summer of 2015, by the rise of candidates for the podium who have become credible contenders for the overall win, with a course that is relatively the same, or by their physical condition that is difficult to pinpoint before the serious business gets underway.
On the Dauphiné like the Tour, Chris Froome came into last year’s races as the overwhelming favourite for the win and most definitely assumed his stature. However, his 2016 calendar has been less engaging with a much lighter schedule of races, where he has more often than not been dominated by his direct rivals. Yet, no one has surmised that this has left the leader of Team Sky out of contention; far from it.
Nevertheless, the uncertainty about his superiority is likely to erase his rival inhibitions. The usual suspects like Alberto Contador, Joaquim Rodriguez and former team mate Richie Porte, are his most pronounced adversaries. And newcomers such as Fabio Aru, winner of the 2015 Vuelta, and Thibaut Pinot, who rode particularly strong on the recent Tour of Romandie (2nd), are now serious outsiders.
The French contingent has plenty of possible threats in addition to Romain Bardet, who has always shown well on the Dauphiné (5th in 2014, 6th and a stage win in 2015). Julian Alaphilippe could build on his momentum after winning the Tour of California to aim for a more prestigious overall win or podium result.
22 teams, the main contenders
Dimension Data: Anton (SPA), Boasson Hagen (NOR), Cummings (GBR)
Team Giant-Alpecin: De Kort, Sinkeldam (NL)
Bora-Argon 18: Buchmann (All), Huzarski (POL), Nerz (GER)
Orica-GreenEdge: Gerrans (AUS), S.Yates, A.Yates (GBR)
Etixx-Quick Step: Alaphilippe (FRA), D. Martin (IRL), T. Martin (GER)
Lotto-Soudal: Gallopin (FRA), De Gendt (BEL)
Wanty-Groupe Gobert: Gasparotto (ITA), Veuchelen (BEL)
Movistar Team: Moreno, Herrada (SPA)
BMC Racing Team: Porte, Dennis (AUS), Van Avermaet (BEL)
Cannondale: Rolland (FRA), Slagter (NL)
Trek-Segafredo: Hesjedal (Can), Mollema (NL), Zubeldia (SPA)
AG2R La Mondiale: Bardet, Vuillermoz, Gougeard (FRA)
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits: Bouhanni, Jeannesson (FRA), Navarro (SPA)
FDJ: Pinot, Vichot (FRA), Reichenbach (SWI)
Direct Energie: Calmejane, Sicard, Voeckler (FRA)
Team Sky: Froome (GBR), Poels (NL), Kwiatkowski (POL)
Lampre-Merida: Meintjes (ZAF)
Astana Pro Team: Aru (ITA), Lutsenko (KAZ), Rosa (Ita)
Team Lotto NL-Jumbo: Kruijswijk (NL)
Team Katusha: Rodriguez (SPA), Van den Broeck (BEL), Kristoff (NOR)
Tinkoff: Contador (SPA), Trofimov (RUS), Valgren (DEN)
IAM Cycling: Coppel (FRA)
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