Two former Tour de France champions, Chris Froome (Sky) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), will test each other’s mettle at the Critérium du Dauphiné, June 7-15. In their last encounter, at Tour de Romandie, Froome had the upper hand, but the list of potential winners for the 67th edition of the Dauphiné is long.
Other top contenders for the weeklong French stage race include 2014 winner Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin), Tejay Van Garderen (BMC), 2014 WorldTour series champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r La Mondiale), Romain Bardet (FDJ), and Pierre Rolland (Europcar).
Sometimes the Dauphiné predicts Tour success, as in the case of Froome in 2013, and sometimes it does not — Talansky won last year’s edition, while Nibali could only manage seventh place, but he went on to victory in July.
This June’s race will offer a sampling of the Tour de France’s challenges. The 24.5km Roanne-Montagny team time trial will also be an important test ahead of the Tour’s stage 9 TTT in Brittany. The Dignes-les-Bains to Pra Loup stage, which will be exactly the same for Le Tour, will give an idea of the respective forms of the leading climbers in the peloton. And riding the Montvernier switchbacks on the last day will be useful for stage 18 of the Tour de France, when they will be taken on immediately before the finish line at Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.
This year’s Dauphiné features five of the top-10 finishers from last year and seven of the top-10 finishers in the 2014 Tour.
Twenty-one teams, the main contenders
MTN-Qhubeka: Boasson Hagen (N), Teklehaimanot (Eri)
Bora-Argon 18: Barta (Cz), Huzarski (Pol)
Giant-Alpecin: Mezgec (Slo)
Orica-GreenEdge: Meier (Can), S.Yates (GB)
Lotto-Soudal: Gallopin (F), Vanendert (B)
Etixx-Quick Step: Alaphilippe, Bouet (F), T.Martin (G)
Movistar: Valverde (Sp), Dowsett (GB), Gadret (F)
BMC Racing: Van Garderen (USA), S.Sanchez (Sp), Dennis (Aus)
Cannondale-Garmin: Talansky (USA), D.Martin (Irl), Navardauskas (Lit)
Trek Factory Team: Mollema (Nl), Zubeldia (Sp)
Ag2r La Mondiale: Bardet, Péraud (F)
Cofidis: Bouhanni, Simon (F), Navarro (Sp)
Europcar: Rolland, Voeckler (F)
FDJ: Elissonde, Geniez (F)
Sky: Froome, Stannard (GB), Roche (Irl)
Lampre-Merida: Costa (P), Valls (Sp), Modolo (I)
Astana: Nibali (I), Boom (Nl), Taaramae (Est)
LottoNL-Jumbo: Kelderman, Tankink (Nl)
Katusha: Rodriguez (Sp), Machado (Prt)
Tinkoff-Saxo: C-A.Sorensen, Hansen (Dk)
IAM Cycling: Frank (Sui), Pantano (Col)