Critérium du Dauphiné 2016 – Overall Preview

By David Hunter

The Giro is over and it’s now all about preparing for the Tour. Some riders choose to go to the Tour de Suisse, but as it’s a week closer to the Tour, it’s not a great option. The real contenders will all come here.

To reward them, the organisers have devised a brilliant week of racing.


daup prologo

3.9km at 9.7%? Possibly, the best prologue of all time! This is a great addition to the race and I can’t wait.

Stage 1

daup 1

Sprint stage.

Stage 2

daup 2

Uphill finish, but one for the puncheurs. The cat 2 climb is 7.5km at 5.6%, then the cat 3 climb is 6.8km at 3.7%. The final ramp is around 6%. GC riders have to be careful not to lose anytime, but it will be hard for them to win the stage.

Stage 3

daup 3

Not an overly difficult day, but the cat 2 climb is 2.9km at 8.2%. That will stop most of the sprinters being able to make the finish.

Stage 4

daup 4

Another sprint stage, but this one is slightly uphill. The final kilometre is around 2.5%, so it will be a demanding sprint.

Stage 5

daup 5

A tough day in the mountains, finishing with a cat 2 climb. It is 6.4km at 6.5%, but features some ramps over 10%.

Stage 6

daup 6

An even harder day in the mountains, with 1 HC climb and 3 cat 1s. The finishing climb is 12.3km at 6.6% and it finishes with a ramp of 11.2%. The big day for the GC contenders.

Stage 7

daup 7

Yet another tough day and another uphill finish. Looks like a day for the breakaway. Back in the bunch, Col du Noyer is really hard, the finish to Superdevoluy is much easier, 3.8km at 5.9%. Should be a great stage to watch.


Chris Froome – has only raced 19 days this year, but that is the same as 2015. He will be disappointed with his efforts so far, as he was way off the pace in Catalunya, Romandie wasn’t great either. A mechanical stopped him in Romandie, but it was curious to see him not going deep to rejoin the peloton. He made up for that with a solid TT and great stage win. For the first time in a while, the pressure is on Froome to deliver a big result. If he disappoints again, there will be big questions about his form heading towards the Tour.

Alberto Contador – The Spaniard has been incredibly consistent in 2016. He was 3rd in Algarve, 2nd in Paris-Nice, 2nd in Catalunya and 1st in Pais Vasco. This really has been an outstanding first half of the season, better than he has been for a number of years. Realistically, this is his last shot at the Dauphine and Tour, so expect him to still be on form. The Dauphine is one of the few races that Contador hasn’t actually won.

Romain Bardet – a solid season, but still missing that extra 5%. More than capable of making the podium, would settle for the top 5.

Fabio Aru – 2016 has been a big disappointment for the Italian. The winner of the 2015 Vuelta, I had been expecting more from him. This is his first season riding the tour as a GC contender, so he might be favouring an easy beginning to his season. Similar to Froome, another poor performance will get the tongues wagging.

Thibaut Pinot – another rider who is enjoying a stellar season. He was 3rd in Besseges, 4th in Algarve, 5th in Tirreno, 1st in the Criterium International, 4th in Pais Vasco and 2nd in Romandie. This is his best ever season in cycling and his confidence will be up. Again, he will be supported by a strong team. FDJ really have stepped up the level of support for their captain, with Morabito and Reichenbach, providing excellent assistance. Expect another big result for Pinot.

Bauke Mollema – I’ve been disappointed by the Dutchman in 2016. He arrives with Ryder Hesjedal as co-captain, fresh from pulling out of the Giro. Mollema is a solid top 10 rider, in the tour, he will be hoping for a little form before then.

Richie Porte – the next 7 weeks are going to be huge in the career of Richie Porte. He is either going to put himself up into the elite rider category or face being a super domestique for the rest of his days. His season has already had a few bumps along the way, but 3rd in Paris-Nice and 4th in Catalunya, were results he should have been pleased with. Given it’s only a 1 week race, he should perform well here.

Joaquim Rodriguez – now 37 years old, he needs to carefully manage his body over the course of a season. Wanting to peak for the Tour and Vuelta, it’s no surprise that he hasn’t been great in 2016. The next week will give an indication of what we can expect in the Tour, remember his brilliant stage win in 2015?

Best Team

Sky look their usual menacing self. They have Froome, Rowe, Poels, Henao, Kwiatkowski, Landa, Puccio and Stannard. The battle for the last couple of slots in their Tour team is on!

Awkward Moment

Both Theuns and Bonifazio ride for Trek. Last time they rode together, was back in Scheldeprijs. The DS said they would decide the sprinter, on the road. That led to both riders sprinting against each other. They shared duties in Paris-Nice, but the moment has arrived where a clear decision has to be made. Fingers crossed they go with Eddie!

Prediction Time

It should be Froome v Contador, but we’ve seen before that others can benefit from them marking each other. I will go out on a limb and pick Thibaut Pinot as the champion. He would be the first French winner of the Dauphine since Christophe Moreau in 2007.

David Hunter

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