The Critérium du Dauphiné starts this Sunday and it’s Primož Roglič versus the field, the next best challenger could even be teammate Jonas Vingegaard. However there’s a stack of other names and as good as Jumbo-Visma are, their seven man team can’t control everything.
Three ski station summit finishes and a 32km time trial – more than the entire Giro or Vuelta – make this a classic stage race test, and a form guide ahead of the Tour de France which has a 40km time trial saved for the last Saturday. Billed as more accessible to the sprinters, that’s relative as in yes they’ll have more chances than last year here, but more often than not the “sprint” stages have climbs and mountain passes in the way. If you want a closer look at the route, there’s the route analysis from February. There are time bonuses at the finish of each stage, the usual 10-6-4 seconds.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) is the prime pick. His record in stage races is remarkable, it’s news when he loses, plus Tadej Pogačar isn’t here. He’s yet to win the Dauphiné, although he was on course in 2020 before a crash and he retired as a precaution. This year the course suits even more, he’s got a punchy finish to collect stages and their time bonuses, while any climbers who can match him uphill risk losing beaucoup time in the time trial. The question is form, it’s a month out from the Tour de France and he’s pausing his training camp to get some racing and hone the senses from riding in a bunch. Team mate Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) is probably the second pick, second in the Tour de France last summer we’ll see if he’s back in form too. If he is then he’s handy in the hills and competent against the clock and his presence more than doubles the team’s chance of taking the win because they can play the old 1-2 on other teams.
Rattling through the other contenders feels like “here’s why they won’t win” but up to them to try and crack the race open, especially as Wout van Aert could have his eye on the points jersey for practice rather than being Roglič’s sherpa and Jumbo-Visma’s seven riders can’t control the race alone.
Ineos don’t bring a big GC contender. Yes Tao Geoghegan Hart has a Giro win but before that and since he’s been in support roles. After a problematic 2021 he seems on the up again but how to take time and then defend it in the time trial? He has a leadership option in a World Tour stage race and
Bahrain bring a trio of Damiano Caruso, Jack Haig and Dylan Teuns but how to win?
Enric Mas leads Movistar but he’s yet to win a European stage race and seems more of a diesel these days than the dynamic rider at Quick-Step. Matteo Jorgenson is coming into form too.
Brandon McNulty (UAE) started the season taking wins from long range breakaways, now we’ll see how he’s climbing. He’s good for the time trial and this race is a rare opportunity as neither Tadej Pogačar nor João Almeida are riding. Fifth in Catalunya, fourth in Romandie, 19 year old Juan Ayuso starts his third World Tour stage race but if the pattern says third, hold those horses as the level is higher now and he’s bound to find the longer Alpine climbs and a 30km TT a bigger test.
Mark Padun (EF Education) is back at the race where he won two mountain stages back-to-back and he’s handy in a time trial too, what can he do on the overall? Team mate Esteban Chaves can do a better TT than some credit but is yet to win a World Tour stage race
Wilco Kelderman (Bora-hansgrohe) is very good for the time trials but how to outclimb Roglič, he’ll surely lack the punch needed with the Giro in his legs.
David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) can climb with the best and he’s even put on weight to beef up for the time trials and was a decent top-10 in the Volta ao Algarve TT but still looks likely to lose time to other GC rivals.
Ben O’Connor (Ag2r Citroën) is a consistent rider who keeps improving but he and his team would sign for a podium finish right now, winning is harder to see.
The Halland twins ride with Tobias Halland Johanessen so far getting the better results, it’s hard to see a win but some good performances this week from Uno-X can help catch the eye of ASO when it comes to a Tour de France wildcard for next year.
|Jonas Vingegaard, Wilco Kelderman
|Brandon McNulty, Tao Geoghegan Hart
|O’Connor, Teuns, Haig
Likely to be on the same channel you watch the Tour de France on. In recent years the race has clashed with the Rolland Garros tennis tournament which meant the scheduling of each stage got fitted around the action in Paris. Now the tennis is over and each stage will have a regular slot with the finish each day around 5.00pm CEST. There’s about two hours of live coverage a day.