Contador, Froome to headline Critérium du Dauphiné in June

Eight-day race from June 2-9 ends less than three weeks before the Tour de France

LYON, France (AFP) — Tour de France hopefuls Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Chris Froome (Sky) will compete at one of the grand tour’s main tuneup events, the Critérium du Dauphiné in June, organizers said on Monday.

The weeklong event is often seen as a good marker for Tour form; Briton Bradley Wiggins (Sky) won last year before going on to triumph in cycling’s biggest race.

The June 2-9 course will tackle the epic Alpe d’Huez on its penultimate stage.

That stage will be seen as a particularly important gauge of form, as the famous climb will be featured twice during the Tour in July.

Contador — returning to the Tour for the first time since serving a ban for a doping violation — and Froome are seen as contenders because of the hilly course. Froome finished second behind Wiggins last year.

The Spaniard Contador won the race in 2007 and 2009 but was stripped of his 2010 win.

Both have been in good form this year, with Froome winning the Tours of Oman and Corsica and placing second to Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) at the Tirreno-Adriatico.

Contador finished a spot behind Froome in both Oman and the Tirreno.