[Underneath article was written before the start of the Critérium du Dauphiné and has not been updated]
Thomas won’t be back to defend his title, though. The Welshman ventures into the Tour de Suisse to prepare for the July showdown. Still, a stellar start list is going to battle it out on the Dauphine.
The first time gaps in terms of the GC-contenders are to be expected after the ITT on the fourth day of action, while the real battle for the overall victory is expected to ignite during the last three stages.
The 6th stage is a grueling race in the middle mountains. At 229 kilometres, the route serves eight climbs, all clustered in the last two third of the race before a flying descent to the line in Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne. It will be hard to win the Dauphiné on this stage, but losing it is something else…
The first and only proper mountain top finish is in stage 7. The route takes in three 1st category KOMs en route, while the final haul up is a hors cátegorie monster. The climb to ski resort Les Sept Laux-Pipay amounts to 19 kilometres and the average slope sits at 6.9%. Chances are the winner of this leg will eventually turn out on top the GC.
The climbs on the last day of action are much shorter. And given the fact that the last one is a rolling uphill of 8.5 kilometres with steepest stretches of 5.5%, it is hard to picture a decisive attack on the road to the finish in Champéry, Switzerland.
Looking at their 2019 results, Fuglsang and Yates (Adam) are the men to watch in the Dauphiné. They both were on fire in March and April. The late-blooming Dane was second on the Strade Bianche and La Flèche Wallonne before powering to victory in Liège-Bestogne-Liège, while Yates was pipped by Primoz Roglic at the Tirreno-Adriatico by 1 second, but also won stages in the Volta a Catalunya (plus, again, second overall) and the Tour of the Basque Country
The only participants in the 2019 edition who won the Critérium du Dauphiné before are Jakob Fuglsang (2017) and Chris Froome (2016, 2015, 2013).
Favourites Critérium du Dauphiné 2019
***** Chris Froome, Adam Yates, Jakob Fuglsang
**** Nairo Quintana, Tom Dumoulin, Thibaut Pinot
*** Romain Bardet, Michal Kwiatkowski, Steven Kruijswijk
** Emanuel Buchmann, Richie Porte, Michael Woods
* Daniel Martin, Wout Poels, David Gaudu, Tejay van Garderen