[Article was written before the start of the Critérium du Dauphiné and has not been updated.]
The first time gaps are to be expected after the prologue and the TTT (both on the flat) before the battle for the overall victory ignites during the last four stages. The real sting is in the tail though – both stages 6 and 7 are short en venomous.
The first mountain finish is in stage 4. The hardest climb of the day is the Col du Mont Noir – 17.5 kilometres at 6.9% – yet with its peak almost 40 kilometres before the line it’s unlikely to expect the fireworks to detonate this early. The climb to the line is much shorter. Winning the Dauphiné on this stage is impossible, but losing it is something else…
In the 5th stage it all boils down to the final climb of 12.7 kilometres at 7%, while the battle for the overall victory is sure to detonate on the 6th stage. The route – which is a preview of the coming Tour de France’s 11th leg – is an open invitation to go all out from start to finish. At merely 110 kilometres, the race travels over the Montée de Bisanne (12.4 kilometres at 8.2%), Col du Pré (12.6 kilometres at 7.7%) and Cormet de Roselend (5.7 kilometres at 6.5%), while the race ends in La Rosière after a final haul up of 17.6 kilometres at 5.8%.
The last stage is just as trying and promising. The route amounts to 129 kilometres and the climbs are longer. The riders are to crest the Cormet de Roselend (from another side and now 19.3 kilometres at 6%), Col des Saisie (15.1 kilometres at 6.4%) and the closing climb to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc, which is a 9.8 kilometres toil at 8%.
Obviously, the 2018 Critérium du Dauphiné is tailor made for climbers. The Tour de Suisse, starting June 9th, is more suited for time triallists – in the race in the French Alps it’s the other way around. Four mountain top finishes in a row, and not exactly on insignificant climbs. Who are the major contenders on the 2018 Critérium du Dauphiné?
Kwiatkowski is the only contender who won a multiple stage race in 2018. The Polish former World Champion took the Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta ao Algarve.
Nibali took Milan-San Remo in brilliant style, but his multi-day stage race campaign didn’t fair so well until now. Same goes for Jungels, who won Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but never managed a top 10 finish on longer races. Still, both riders are targeting the Tour de France, so obviously their form should be reaching its peak by now.
Non of the participants in the 2018 Critérium du Dauphiné did win the race before. Recent editions were won by Jakob Fuglsang (2017), Chris Froome (2016, 2015, 2013) and Andrew Talansky (2014).
Favourites Critérium du Dauphiné 2018
***** Vincenzo Nibali, Romain Bardet, Geraint Thomas
**** Michal Kwiatkowski, Ilnur Zakarin, Marc Soler
*** Adam Yates, Bob Jungels, Julian Alaphilippe
** Daniel Martin, Tiesj Benoot, Damiano Caruso, Pello Bilbao
* Warren Barguil, Pierre Latour. David Gaudu, Emanuel Buchmann
Critérium du Dauphiné 2018: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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Profile 7th stage
Stage 5: Details Valmorel
Stage 6: Details La Rosière
Stage 7: Details Saint-Gerais Mont-Blanc