Critérium du Dauphiné, which this year runs its 69th edition, means business right from day one, when the peloton will take on a tough and unpredictable hilly circuit in Saint-Étienne which could see some of the overall classification favourites lay down an early marker. Before the week-end, the sprinters and attackers should cut the lion’s share, but the GC men too will have an opportunity to shake up things in the standings, thanks to a rolling 23.5km-long individual time trial between La Tour-du-Pin and Bourgoin-Jalieu.
Final three days of the race will bring as many chances for the climbers, with a mouth-watering menu which includes Mont du Chat, Col de Sarenne, the legendary Alpe d’Huez (which this year will be approached from a different side), Col de la Colombière and Plateau de Solaison, where the closing battle for the yellow jersey will unfold.
Last year, Dan Martin made history at the Critérium du Dauphiné by becoming the first Irishman to finish on the podium. The 30-year-old – a key protagonist of the Ardennes Classics earlier this season – will once again lead Quick-Step Floors at the French World Tour race, where he’ll be joined by Eros Capecchi, Tim Declercq, neo-pro Enric Mas – one of the best young riders of the Tour of California – Maximiliano Richeze, Petr Vakoc, Martin Velits and Julien Vermote.
“If you look over the course, it’s pretty obvious we have the same ingredients as in the past: some hard stages in the opening portion of the week, then a challenging time trial, which even though isn’t long will lay down the ground for attacks in the mountains. I don’t think there will be a moment of respite in the race, so we have to stay attentive all the time. Our team is built around Dan, whom we’ll protect and help get another strong and morale-boosting result ahead of next month’s Tour de France”, said Quick-Step Floors sport director Brian Holm.
Eros Capecchi (ITA)
Tim Declercq (BEL)
Daniel Martin (IRL)
Enric Mas (ESP)
Maximiliano Richeze (ARG)
Petr Vakoc (CZE)
Martin Velits (SVK)
Julien Vermote (BEL)