Criterium du dauphine

Now in its 69th year, the annual Critérium du Dauphiné races through one of the most beautiful areas of south east France: rich in mountains, lakes, vineyards, industry, universities, tourism and cultural tradition. But it’s unlikely anyone will be spending much time taking selfies against a backdrop of the French Alps.  Because the Critérium du Dauphiné is the one of the last staged races before the Tour de France and gives us the perfect opportunity to size up the ambitions, performances and fitness of likely the main players. 

Inaugurated in 1947 by a local newspaper, the DauphinéLibéré, as a means of improving circulation, the race is considered to be the perfect training tune-up for those key pro riders targeting the Tour de France one month later and the calibre of competitors is extremely high.

Critérium Success equals Tour Success
Just looking at the list of past winners reads like the Who’s Who of professional cycling and shows just how significant the elite riders believe this race to be. The Critérium du Dauphiné is the only race that has been won by all five-time winners of the Tour de France and nine winners have also won this race and the Tour de France in the same year.Some of the greatest names in cycling history have donned the blue and yellow jersey: Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain, Luis Ocaña, Bernard Thévenet, Miguel Indurain,Bradley Wiggins, and Chris Froome. (For completeness we’ll mention Lance Armstrong has also won it twice, but only briefly.)

2017 Route: A Return to the Alped'Huez
Starting this year on 4th June and taking 8 days, the route includes the magnificent scenery and challenging climbs of the Isère, Drôme, and Hautes-Alpes departments and features a mountain stage with a route that is nearly identical to that of the Tour a month later. This is a race for the climbers though there are a couple of places where sprinters also get their way. It includes an ascent to the Alped'Huez for only the second time in race history.

It starts in Saint-Etienne, a city that is well-known in cycling as its hosted the Tour de France 25 times, Paris-Nice 58 times and the Dauphine 24. This first stage will feature three laps on a circuit that includes the hillyRochetaillee climb.The next two stages, in Arlanc(hilly) and Tullins(flat) will be suitable for sprinters. The fourth day will is the time trialwith a 23.5 kilometreparcours in Bourgoin-Jallieu.

Dress Rehearsal
But the key moments for Tour contenders will be in the following three stages. The fifth stage will include the 9km climb to the Mont du Chat, with an average gradient of more than 10%. This is the ascent that will also feature in the Tour de France. The sixth stage will feature a summit finish in La Motte-Servolex. The final 115km stage features long climbs to the Col des Saisies, Les Aravis and La Colombiere, before an ascent of 11.3 kilometres to the Plateau de Solaison.