Friday, May 31, 2013

Critérium du Dauphiné 2013 - Preview & Favorites

Critérium du Dauphiné 2013
There is now less than a month to the start of this year’s Tour de France and that means it’s the last time to test your legs against your rivals’ in competition. Most of the big Tour favorites will be in Critérium du Dauphiné this year and with a very hilly course, we should be in for a good show the next eight days.

Compared to last year’s edition, this one is much more about climbing than time trialing. It’s true there is a 32.5 km long time trial on stage four but the race won’t be won or lost here, that will happen in the final four days in the Alps with three uphill finishes.

Looking at the field, two riders stand out as the main favorites; Chris Froome and Alberto Contador. Froome has been outstanding in all the stage races he has ridden since February, while Contador only has been focusing on the Tour and therefore haven’t performed as well as the previous years. Contador normally never peaks in Dauphine but with a different season plan, we should to see him stronger at this point than usually. Last year Bradley Wiggins won Dauphiné before winning the Tour overall and I think Chris Froome will be eager to repeat his teammate’s performance this time. Froome can count on excellent support from Richie Porte - another GC contender - Vasil Kiryienka, David Lopez and Edvald Boasson Hagen.

I see Chris Froome and Alberto Contador a level above the rest in this race but its clear they are both not in tip-top condition yet and it wouldn’t be the first time an outsider won Dauphiné. There are a lot of good riders in the race this year to give you a better overview, I have the divided the favorites in to the following categories:

Strong winner candidates: Chris Froome & Alberto Contador
Strong podium contenders: Samuel Sanchez, Richie Porte & Andrew Talansky
Top5 contenders: Joaquim Rodriguez, Alejandro Valverde, Damiano Cunego & Jurgen van den Broeck.

Outside of these three categories we’ll find riders like; Sylvain Chavanel, Jakob Fuglsang, Wout Poels, Laurens Ten Dam, Pierre Rolland, Michal Kwiatkowski etc. etc.

Personally, I expect a lot from Samuel Sanchez. For the first time in many years, he failed to deliver in a Grand Tour when he only ended 12th overall in the Giro d’Italia. He came close to a stage win on the hilly time trial but he wasn’t as strong as expected in the last week. The last couple of years we’ve seen riders with failed Giro expectations rise and win in Dauphiné and I think Samu will do just that. In 2011, Purito used his good shape from the Giro to win two stages and last year his teammate Dani Moreno did the same. I see many good stages for Samuel Sanchez in this year’s Dauphiné and I would be surprised not to see him win at least one of them.

Remember, there are no bonus seconds on the line in Critérium du Dauphiné this year so the climbers really need to distance their rivals when ever they can if they lose too much time in the time trial.

Many of you have been asking about stage previews for Dauphiné and I’m happy to announce that there will be daily previews during the race. Just like earlier this year, I’ve teamed up with INRNG to deliver daily stage previews of both Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse. INRGN will be writing for Dauphiné and I will be doing the Tour de Suisse previews. First one should be online Saturday evening.

For live race coverage, check out

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