2022 Critérium du Dauphiné – Overall Preview
This Sunday sees the start of the Critérium du Dauphiné, one of the main World Tour races of the season but perhaps most importantly, the most important pre-Tour de France test for many of the climbers who will be testing their form in southeastern France.
The opening stage, as is frequent in the Dauphiné, is a very open one. It has a profile that suits the sprinters that can climb, however the hard start also makes it an attractive day for a possible breakaway win, as the yellow jersey will be available.
Stage two isn’t too different, however a day more suited to the pure sprinters. It does include some climbing, but not as intense as the opening day.
Stage three will likely see the first moves from the GC riders, however the finale in Sancy is very much suited to the puncheurs aswell as the gradients will not truly bite and it can allow for some fast finishers to have a good opportunity.
Stage four will see an individual time-trial of considerable dimensions. With 32 kilometers on the menu it is certain that there will be some big gaps emerging, which will set the order ahead of the Alps.
Stage five will be a tricky one, likely for a sprint however with some small traps in which they can be put into difficulties.
Stage six is yet another day for the sprinters but with the possibility of surprises. The day will be ridden through the Alpine valleys, however the climbers will have to wait another day to be able to pull out their tricks.
The final two stages will be hard and decisive for the overall classification. Stage 7 features essentially the same route that will be ridden in the Alpe d’Huez stage at the Tour, with the exception that the finale is in Vaujany. The Col du Galibier and Col de la Croix de Fer will be ridden in a day that will be short but brutal – with a lot of altitude included.
The final stage, finally, will also take the peloton through some hard climbs, however here most of the focus will be in it’s final section. The uphill start will make it a dangerous day, but besides that the moments to attack will all come in the climb to the Plateau de Solaison where the race will come to an ending.
The race will be decided in two phases. The GC contention is unlikely to start unfolding – besides bonifications – until the time-trial. Those who can ride well, Jumbo-Visma mainly will get a head start into the two mountainous stages and I expect a Jumbo vs the rest in this race.
With an incredible support crew, both Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard have a very stable base and they themselves, if on good form, should have no problem fighting for the yellow jersey in the high mountains. Their rivals can be split into two categories: those who will be very close – maybe ahead – of them in GC, and those with minutes to recover.
In the list of those who can time-trial you will find Wilco Kelderman, the Bahrain duo of Jack Haig and Damiano Caruso and Brandon McNulty. I would assume at least one of these riders is likely to finish on the podium, as they’ll unlikely have responsibilities despite their strong TT ability. The likes of Michal Kwiatkowski, Wout van Aert or Rohan Dennis could possibly be in the fight too but the chances are small.
In the list of those who will struggle in the TT but can for sure ride strong in the mountains we have David Gaudu, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Eddie Dunbar for INEOS, Esteban Chaves, Jan Hirt and Louis Meintjes for Intermarche and Steff Cras.
I would add a third paragraph with riders who can both do good or bad, depending on form essentially – or mostly just do average: Ben O’Connor, Tobias Johannessen, Juan Ayuso and the ever-interesting Mark Padun.
As for the sprints, there isn’t a luxurious field, however there are a few big names which are set to make a strong presence in the race. The lack of pan-flat stages surely affect it, however the likes of Dylan Groenewegen, Phil Bauhaus and Jordi Meeus will hope for calm stages to fight for the wins.
For the hillier stages, of which there will be several, Wout van Aert will be the best option. He will ride alongside Cristophe Laporte who is also an option for the bunch finishes, Ethan Hayter, Juan Sebastián Molano and Clément Venturini are all riders to consider aswell.
There will also be a time-trial to discuss, which can eventually see the race lead fall to a specialist. With names like Hayter, van Aert and Roglic mentioned above, it is also important to add the likes of Filippo Ganna , Rémi Cavagna and Mattia Cattaneo.
⭐⭐Haig, McNulty, Johannessen
⭐Caruso, Kwiatkowski, Gaudu, Hart, Chaves, Hirt, Meintjes, O’Connor, Ayuso, Padun
I think it will be very hard to be able to prevent Jumbo-Visma from winning this race. I believe Primoz Roglic wouldn’t have a problem letting Jonas Vingegaard take the GC if there is an opportunity, but with an early TT before the big GC moves I foresee the Slovenian will be ahead of the Dane into the mountains.
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