[Article was written before the start of the Dauphiné and has not been updated.]
In 2013, 2015 and 2016 Chris Froome took the win in both the Dauphiné and the Tour de France. The race seems to be a perfect preparation for the Briton. That is, if he wins. In 2014 he rode the Dauphiné without winning and a few weeks later he crashed out of La Grande Boucle.
The 2017 Critérium du Dauphiné is a final test of form before the July showdown. With Richie Porte, Alberto Contador, Romain Bardet and Froome himself the field features the main contenders in the Tour.
Of this four Porte is the best performer in 2017. Early this season he took the Tour Down Under and in April Froome did not stand a chance in a direct confrontation in the Tour de Romandie. Porte’s only poor performance GC-wise was in Paris-Nice. His chances got up in smoke during an echelon marked stage, yet he bounced back by winning the Queen Stage ahead of Contador.
In last year’s Critérium du Dauphiné Bardet finished in second, 12 seconds down on Froome. This season he is not on flying form, yet. He was excluded from Paris-Nice after having been towed by the team car, while he did’t make an impression in the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour of the Basque Country, finishing twelfth and fifteenth overall. So the runner-up in the 2016 Tour de France could use a result to boost his moral.
Same goes for Froome. He was on the start list in the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour de Romandie, but in both races he didn’t stand a chance in the GC. His only bright spot was finishing in second in an important mountain stage in Catalunya, behind Valverde but ahead of Contador.
Talking about El Pistolero. In 2017, the 34-year old Spaniard is collecting second places, often with a slim deficit on the winner. He lost Ruta del Sol with 1 second to Valverde and Paris-Nice with 2 seconds to Sergio Henao, while he was bested by Valverde in Volta a Catalunya and Tour of the Basque Country, too. As is the case with Froome and Bardet: a victory wouldn’t hurt his confidence.
Chaves and Aru then – there’s a question mark over their form. Both riders have been plagued by injuries until now. The prolonged time off the bike saw them scarp plans to race the Giro d’Italia and they will return to action at the Critérium du Dauphiné. The opposite is true for Valverde. This spring, the 37-year old won one race after the other: Vuelta a Murcia, Ruta del Sol, Volta a Catalunya, Tour of the Basque Country, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. One may wonder if the Spaniard will be back to that flying form, especially since the Dauphiné is longer and tougher than the stage races he won.
Favourites Critérium du Dauphiné 2017
*** Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Romain Bardet, Richie Porte
** Alejandro Valverde, Daniel Martin, Esteban Chaves, Fabio Aru
* Rigoberto Uran, Sergio Henao, Simon Yates, Warren Barguil, Leopold König
Critérium du Dauphiné 2017: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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All stages Critérium du Dauphiné
Stage 6: Details Mont du Chat
Stage 7: Final 30 km to Alpe d’Huez
Stage 8: Details Plateau de Solaison
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