[Underneath article was written before the start of the Critérium du Dauphiné and has not been updated]
Until recently, winning the Critérium du Dauphiné was a good indicator of the chances to win the Tour de France. Bradley Wiggins (2012), Chris Froome (2013, 2015, 2016) and Geraint Thomas (2018) – they all were victorious in the Dauphiné before racing to eternal glory on La Grande Boucle. The last two Dauphiné winners, Jakob Fuglsang and Daniel Felipe Martínez, bucked this trend.
Concerning the 2021 edition, the first proper time gaps are expected to open up in the time trial on the fourth day of action. McNulty and Thomas are the most likely riders to deliver a blow on the undulating course of 16.4 kilometres long, while the likes of Porte, Kelderman and Izagirre could distance the lesser time trialistst also.
The GC action intensifies on Friday. The climbs are relatively easy, but the race could be a good indicator. Struggling riders will have work to do before the Tour de France’s Grand Départ on 26 June.
Talking about Le Grande Boucle, the 7th stage links the hors catégorie Col du Pré and the 2nd category Cormet de Roselend that will be part of the Tour de France’s mountain stage to Le Grand-Bornand. The race serves the first and only proper mountain top finish. After dropping to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, the riders will then tackle the second hors catégorie test of the day – the 17.1 kilometres at 7.5% ascent to ski resort La Plagne.
The final stage goes either up or down for 147 kilometres. After five ascents the last big test is the Col de Joux Plane – 11.6 kilometres at 8.5% and hors catégorie. The riders drop into Morzine and climb at 3% to Les Gets before the last 1.5 kilometres are virtually flat.
The only participants who won a stage race in 2021 are Geraint Thomas and Miguel Ángel López. The first took the Tour de Romandie, the latter the Ruta del Sol.
Favourites Critérium du Dauphiné 2021
***** Geraint Thomas, Richie Porte, Wilco Kelderman
**** Steven Kruijswijk, Ion Izagirre, Jonas Vingegaard
*** David Gaudu, Miguel Ángel López, Nairo Quintana
** Brandon McNulty, Alejandro Valverde, Enric Mas, Sepp Kuss
* Tao Geoghegan Hart, Lennard Kämna, Jack Haig, Guillaume Martin