The Critérium du Dauphiné begins with a hilly stage around the old volcanoes of the Auvergne, can any of the sprinters hang on for the finish?
The Route: a tour around the Monts Dore and the Puy de Sancy, the highest point of the Massif central mountain range. But it’s around rather than over, the course could have hillier but there’s plenty of mountain climbing to come. First comes an 88km loop, then three laps of a 20km circuit around Chambon sur Lac. The categorised climb is just a short sprint up to a viewpoint, but to get there there’s more climbing before.
The Finish: a flat finish by the lake.
The Contenders: it’s too hilly for some sprinters so the breakaway riders will fancy their chances and they get the consolation of five climbs for the mountains competition. Romain Combaud (DSM) is the local but he’s never won a pro race. Dorian Godon and Oliver Naesen (Ag2r Citroën), Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies), Harry Sweeny (Lotto-Dstny) are long shot picks.
Ethan Hayter (Ineos) is a fast finisher who can handle these climbs. Sprinter Ethan Vernon showed in Romandie he climbs well too and Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) is a candidate here too. Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) ought to be the prime pick but he could find the climbing too much and he’s not a regular winner in bunch sprints either these days.
|Vernon, Laporte, Bennett, Fraile, Zingle|
Weather: sunshine but the altitude will keep the temperatures down, 19-22°C and the rising chance of a thundery downpour later in the stage.
TV: the stage starts at 1.00pm and finish is forecast for 5.00pm CEST. TV will cover the final two hours.