69th Critérium du Dauphiné
Eight-day stage race, France
June 4-11, 2017
Who is going to win the Tour de France? In recent years the best indicator of form has been the Critérium du Dauphiné, the classic week-long stage race in south-east France which finishes three weeks before the Tour.
Last year’s edition was won by Chris Froome who went on to win his third Tour the following month. In each of his three Tour wins – 2013/15/16 – Froome has warmed up with victory in the Dauphiné.
Second in both races last year was Romain Bardet. Dan Martin was third at the Dauphiné and seventh at the Tour, Richie Porte fourth and fifth, and Louis Meintjes ninth and eighth.
All the above, plus Alberto Contador, Esteban Chaves, Fabio Aru, Simon Yates and Alejandro Valverde are expected to ride the 69th Dauphiné.
First held in 1947, the race was a promotional tool for the regional paper Dauphiné Libere and went by that name until 2010 when Tour de France owner ASO took full control. The name changed to Critérium du Dauphiné and they celebrated with the race’s first ever stage finish on Alpe d’Huez.
Although the Alpe did not feature in the 2010 Tour, one or two significant climbs on each year’s Tour route are often included in the Dauphiné. Alpe d’Huez is climbed this year but is not in the Tour.
This year the brutal Mont du Chat in the Jura mountains, an HC climb to 1,504m, is climbed late on stage six of the Dauphiné and is also the final climb on stage nine of the Tour.
Halfway though this year’s Dauphiné, there is a 23.5km time-trial stage which also mirrors the 23km time trial which could decide the Tour on the penultimate day in Marseilles (Stage 20, Saturday, July 22).
The Dauphiné TT is more rolling but there’s also a climb on the Marseille course – it will be another fascinating indicator of form.
If you can get the week off work, the Critérium du Dauphiné is relaxed, accessible and a great place to see Tour bikes getting their shakedown runs. Get closer to the riders, cycle up some Tour climbs and sample some world-famous Rhone and Ventoux reds. It’s one of the best races for fans.
Critérium du Dauphiné 2017
1 Sunday, June 4 Saint-Etienne to Saint Etienne (170km)
2 Monday, June 5 Saint-Chamond to Arlanc (171km)
3 Tuesday, June 6 Le Chambon-sur-Lignon to Tullins (184km)
4 Wednesday June 7 La Tour-du-Pin to Bourgoin-Jallieu (23.5km TT)
5 Thursday, June 8 La Tour-de-Salvagny to Mâcon (175km)
6 Friday, June 9 Parc des Oiseaux/Villars-les-Dombes to La Motte-Servolex (145.5km)
7 Saturday, June 10 Aoste to Alpe d’Huez (167.5km)
8 Sunday, June 11 Albertville to Plateau de Solaison (115km)
Total distance: 1,151.5km
2016 Chris Froome (GB)
2015 Chris Froome (GB)
2014 Andrew Talansky (USA)
2013 Chris Froome (GB)
2012 Bradley Wiggins (GB)
2011 Bradley Wiggins (GB)
2010 Janez Brajkovic (Slo)
2009 Alejandro Valverde (Sp)
2008 Alejandro Valverde (Sp)
2007 Christophe Moreau (Fr)
Happy Hunting Ground
It may have taken until 2012 for a Brit to win the Tour de France, but the Dauphiné has long been an achievable target for riders from the UK.
Chris Froome 2013, 2015, 2016
Bradley Wiggins 2011, 2012
Robert Millar 1990
Brian Robinson 1961
R. Millar second in 1983, 1989
Chris Boardman second in 1995
D. Millar third in 2003
Most overall wins
Five riders have won the Dauphiné three times:
Bernard Hinault 1977, 1979, 1981
Luis Ocaña 1970, 1972, 1973
Nello Lauredi 1950, 1951, 1954
Charly Mottet 1987, 1989, 1992
Chris Froome 2013, 2015, 2016
France has provided the most winners of the Dauphiné, with 30 wins. Spain is second on 10 with Great Britain third on seven. The USA is not far behind in fourth, with six wins [Note: including Lance Armstrong’s ’03 and ’04 wins, which were struck from the records. Make of that what you will – Ed]
Eyes on the Prize
“That year’s Dauphiné  was sponsored by a Swiss confectionery brand, and the winner of each stage had to sit on a huge set of scales while their body weight in chocolate was piled on the other side. With three wins, I’d accumulated 210kg of the stuff, which was gleefully loaded by the team staff into the camper van.” Chris Boardman: Triumphs and Turbulence
This is Hardcore
1965: Jacques Anquetil won three stages and the overall then went directly from the finish in Avignon to ride and win the marathon derny-paced Bordeaux-Paris race (from Master Jacques by Richard Yates):
“After the arrival in Avignon there was no respite for Anquetil as he embarked on the second race of the day: 17 minutes to receive his bouquet, his prizes and salute the public, back to the hotel, 35 minutes for a bath and a meal.
“Into the car and a police escort at high speed to Nimes airport where an executive jet was waiting – a government aircraft laid on by president Charles de Gaulle, one of Anquetil’s greatest fans. The flight took 40 minutes, then it was by car to the hotel to meet Stablinski and Denson. He took a meal with them, choosing kidneys in red wine from the menu.”