Generally regarded as the “warm-up” race for the Tour which takes place later in the month, the Dauphiné is not a “quick loop around the easy parts of France” by any standard. With consecutive summits on the last two stages, the race for the general classification could end until the last day.
The time trial that so missed in last year’s shortened edition will also make a reappearance, allowing overall riders to test all their specialties, which is important given that the Tour de France features two time trial opportunities on this year’s course.
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When does the Criterium du Dauphine 2021 take place?
The eight-day stage race will start on Sunday, May 30 and end the following Sunday, June 6.
How to watch the Criterium du Dauphine?
You can watch the race live on the Eurosport app and Eurosport.co.uk. Download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now. You can also watch the most complete races live and ad-free on GCN +.
Who is setting up the Criterium du Dauphine?
Last year’s winner, Daniel Martinez, has since moved from EF Pro Cycling to Ineos Grenadiers but has not been confirmed to defend his crown at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Ineos will instead look to 2018 winner Geraint Thomas and Richard Carapaz to boost their GC hopes after Thomas’ successful start-to-season campaign and overall Tour de Romandie victory in May.
Steven Kruijswijk and Sep Kuss lead a strong Jumbo-Visma team after Primož Roglič decided to forgo any further races until the Tour de France. His closest rival, Tadej Pogačar, will follow a similar path to The Great Loop, and should instead complete the Tour de Slovenia from June 9 to 13 before leaving for France. Tony Martin, back from injury, will be eyeing the time trial, as will Rohan Dennis d’Ineos after his victory in the Tour de Romandie.
Nairo Quintana will seek to test his form because he is supported by Warren Barguil within Team Arkéa Samsic. The big question mark will be around Chris Froome and Israel Start-Up Nation as he lacks time to get his form back on track before the Tour. Mountain goat Michael Woods will be by his side and more than capable of being the leader if Froome fails, after several top ten classifications and a podium in the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var.
With two or even three stages where sprinters could flourish, Pascal Ackermann of Bora-Hansgrohe will be hard to beat. Although he has yet to win a race this year, he has been extremely close on several occasions. Fabio Jackobsen left for Deceuninck – QuickStep, but he is still finding his feet after returning to racing after his terrible accident last year.
What is the road?
Sunday May 30: Stage 1 – Issoire ›Issoire (181.8 km)
The 2021 edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné begins in Issoire with a loop of 181.8 km. Although referred to as a “flat” stage by the organizers, off-road sprinters may have to dig deep if they want the race to end in their favor with a number of ranked climbs on the course.
Monday May 30: Stage 2 – Brioude ›Saugues (173km)
If the sprinters thought they had to work hard on the first stage, they will love the second stage. The first category 1 ascent makes its appearance on the 173 km of Saugues approximately 50 km after the start of the runners from Brioude, the birthplace of Romain Bardet. The descent will be fine for fast men but it will be a battle to get there.
Tuesday June 1, Stage 3 – Langeac ›Saint-Haon-Le-Vieux (172.5km)
Stage 3 is a much more relaxed affair with just two categorized climbs and an intermediate sprint for the runners. An uphill finish will favor the likes of Greg Van Avermaet and other punchers.
Wednesday June 2, Stage 4 – Firminy ›Roche-La-Molière (16.4km)
Rohan Dennis will be licking his lips at this stage, a 16.4km individual time trial, with Filippo Ganna nowhere in sight! It’s not flat, but it’s not hilly enough to worry pure testers. Also look out for Geraint Thomas, who may be the best time trial of GC contenders.
Thursday June 3, stage 5 – Saint-Chamond ›Saint-Vallier (175.5 km)
The longest stage of the race brings hopes of a breakaway victory, with many climbs including the last category 2 climb, the Côte du Montrebut. It appears just over 12 km from the finish, making it the perfect spot for an ambush attack.
Friday June 4, Stage 6 – Loriol-sur-Drome ›Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse (168km)
If the sprinters haven’t disrespected the traditionalists and have already given up on the race, they almost certainly will at this stage. Described rather nicely as “hilly” by the organizers, the second half of the stage includes four climbs categorized successively, including the Col de Porte, and the first climb of the race on Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse, a 3.3 km climb with an average gradient of 6.2%.
Saturday June 5, 7th stage – Saint-Martin-le-Vinoux ›La Plagne (171km)
Intended to suck all the remaining energy from the runners’ legs, the mountain stages are kept for the last two days. With two non-category climbs to face, the GC will be spiced up on this Queen stage. The finish line is at the top of the 17.1 km of La Plagne, a monstrous climb with an average gradient of 7.5%.
Sunday June 6, Stage 8 – La Léchère-Les-Bains ›Les Gets (147km)
In case the GC isn’t quite decided yet, the final day could see a memorable General reshuffle. Finishing the Dauphiné in style is the 147 km stage to Les Gets, with no less than six categorized climbs before the last climb to Les Gets.
Who will win?
After his formidable form in the Tour de Romandie and the strong support he brings to the Dauphiné, it is difficult to look past Geraint Thomas, although some of the more mountainous stages could suit a rider like Miguel Ángel López.
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