Critérium du Dauphiné 2014: Favourites
The Critérium du Dauphiné is the first race in 2014 where all the Tour de France favourites will go head-to-head.. Chris Froome and Alberto Contador have impressed so far this year with strong performances in short stage races while Vincenzo Nibali (image) is a different story. The Sicilian will look to re-capture the form that saw him win the Giro in 2013. Other strong contenders for the Critérium du Dauphiné include Tejay van Garderen. (Slideshow route/profile)
Usually the Tour de France contenders come to the fore in the Dauphine. Some like to keep in touch in the mountains without really showing their cards, as Contador has done in the past. When it comes to Froome however, asserting his dominance pre-Tour is all part of the process of striking fear into his rivals. He is the reigning champion after winning stage 5 last year, taking the yellow jersey in the process and keeping it until the end. His form will have likely progressed since winning Romandie, making Froome the man to beat in 2014.
Contador has never won the Dauphine. He finished 3rd in 2009 and 2nd in 2010, taking 2 stages in the latter. In both races, winning the overall GC never seemed overly important to the Spaniard as he kept his cards close to his chest pre-tour. 10th last year, Contador’s confidence was shattered by a rampaging Froome. 2014 has gone a lot better for El Pistolero, and after wracking up wins all season, it’s expected he will hit Froome with all he’s got in the Dauphine to try and knock the Kenyan off his stride. On current form, Contador has looked the stronger rider.
Putting all your eggs in the Tour basket usually means impressing during the build-up as well. In that sense, Nibali has flattered to deceive in 2014. A daring solo attack in Milan-Sanremo springs to mind but the Shark from Messina found himself gobbled up on the Poggio. He went head to head with Froome in Romandie, finishing 5th, almost 2 minutes down on his victorious rival. If Nibali is to be a threat at the Tour, he needs to make an impact in the Dauphine. Winning it would turn everything in his favour heading into July.
Tejay van Garderen
A surprising 3rd in the 2010 Dauphine announced Tejay’s arrival to the big leagues. He has improved year on year since and has been mixing it with the best this year with high placings in Oman (2nd overall), Catalunya (3rd overall and 1 stage win) and Pais Vasco (6th overall). After falling under the weight of expectation at last year’s Tour, the BMC rider needs a team who believes he can reproduce or better the performance of 2012 when he was 5th. A big result in the Dauphine should re-inforce belief in their leader.
Critérium du Dauphiné 2014: Images and more
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