The route of the 2024 Critérium du Dauphiné route has been unveiled and here is a closer look at the course including a tough “new” climb. The race will take place from Sunday 2 June to Sunday 8 June.
100% Saint-Pourçain as the stage starts and finish in the town of Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule and has a finishing loop. A flurry of early climbs means some will target the breakaway hoping to take the mountains jersey and if only for day it’s a prize and a photo opportunity. A likely sprint finish although note there’s 2,000m of vertical gain and how many sprinters will start given the stages to come?
A dash around Romain Bardet’s training roads. The Col de Saint-Thomas midway is harder than the stats suggest with a final kilometre at 12% but it’s hardly going to turn the race upside down. A summit finish? The Col de la Loge ticks lots of boxes as it’s at a mountain pass, it’s over 1,000m high, the upper part is flanked by pine trees, there’s a ski station at the top and yet the missing ingredient is a tough gradient. It’s a scenic road all the way up from the Loire valley floor but never that steep and while the profile doesn’t show it there are some flat sections after the Croix de Ladret and it flattens out again right at the finish. It makes for a hard final 30km that no heavyset sprinter can cope with but it’s for strong riders who can surf slipstreams and bully the big ring.
Another stage, another day with plenty of vertical gain, another tricky climb mid-stage before a big ring drag to the line in the shadow of Mont d’Alambre, an extinct volcano cone. It’s a breakaway day given the uphill start and the following day’s time trial means the GC contenders will try to ride in economy mode.
A bit of déjà-vu as this 34km stage borrows roads from last year’s Dauphiné. Talking of 2023, that year’s edition had a hard time trial stage, this one here is on more gentle rolling roads as it crosses the Loire – France’s longest river – before a drag up to the finish.
200km and maybe a sprint stage but there’s 2,800m of vertical gain and even in the Vuelta that’d be a lot for the sprinters and the lumpy terrain could offer attackers a chance.
The first Alpine stage and in the backyard of the Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale team’s HQ. There’s a dash across to the Col du Granier, climbed “sideways” as in west to east rather than the usual approach in the north-south axis of the Chartreuse trilogy. Then comes the Collet d’Allevard, a ski station summit finish meaning a regular, engineered road but it’s steeper than usual for the French Alps and selective. It was last used in 2011 when Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez won.
The scenic Col des Saisies out of Albertville means big climbing from the start and the first half of the stage hardly offers any rest with the Aravis and Colombière climbs. After the high speed descent to Cluses comes the “Côte d’Arâches” which, pending the map publication, looks like tahe scenic cliff climbing road on the way to the Flaine ski resort before taking a balcony road across. The finish is a “new” climb, the town of Samoëns is better know as the start of the dreaded Joux-Plane but instead of going north, here it’s south and up a tough road to a ski station; this climb is often known as the Plateau des Saix and it’s a tough climb, forums abound with adjectives like “terrible”, “wild”, “infernal” and some locals say it’s harder than the Joux-Plane.
A stage that starts with a loop via steep Forclaz de Montmin before a more gentle middle section that could have had some more small climbs to make lifer harder for a chasing peloton before the Salève climb that is more irregular and selective than it looks. Then it’s across to the final climb up to the Plateau de Glières. The plateau has featured in recent Tours de France as a gravel road and climbed from another direction, this is the Col du Collet tackled from the south-west – the same as 2013 when Julian Alaphilippe won the final stage of the Tour de l’Avenir – and it’s steep with plenty of 10-12% slopes before a descent which flattens the official gradient number and then a sharp rise to the finish on gravel, tailor-made for Primož Roglič.
It’s again very much a tour of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region rather than the Dauphiné but we’re used to that now. After the obligatory Auvergne stages, the 34km time trial is interesting given Remco Evenepoel is riding, this is the stage for him and if he does win, sets up a test for his Soudal-Quicksteppers in the mountains as rivals like Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič will be only to happy to see their teams dismantle the Belgian squad as they aim for victory.
There’s a “new” climb in the Plateau des Saix and it’s reputed to be very tough, it could be decisive and it’s interesting for the novelty but also to see if it features in the Tour de France in the coming years. Often where the Dauphiné goes the Tour follows but what’s striking is how the race visits some very small places, not just along the way but as the start and finish towns like Celles-sur-Durolle, population 1,647 or Neulise population 1,324 and that’s just two examples. It does have a start in Alberville and passes through Vienne but this is quite a discreet race, it’d be a pity if the towns within this region aren’t jostling to host the race.
There won’t be any doubt about the winner given the course, a long TT (for this era) and three tough summit finishes and it should set things up nicely for the Tour weeks later.