Tomorrow is the first stage of the French regional stage race in the Dauphine, a beautiful region in the French Alps and home to Potato Dauphinoise (mmmmm).
The Criterium du Dauphine lasts eight days, making it shorter and less promiment than the better known big brother, the Tour de France. I use this term big brother as it highlights the relationship between the two races.
– Both are run by the same organization, the ASO.
– Sometimes new routes or climbs are tested in the Dauphine, then used in the Tour.
– Riders showing form at the Dauphine often go on to do well at the Tour. (Chris Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins both won here before going on to win the big one).
The Dauphine may be a smaller race, but it is still seen as very prestigious and one to get on your palmares, or your list of achievements as a cyclist. The roll of honour reads as a who’s who of procycling down through the ages. The race has been very exciting in recent years, with action and drama from start to finish.
Every day is crucial. Time losses in a short stage race count for more, as there are so few opportunities to make your loss back up. Recent editions have seen the top professional cyclists go hammer and tongs right to the end of the week. This year should provide another feast of cycling with the big names testing their mettle, including Alberto Contador, Chris Froome and Fabio Aru.
My very tenuous link to this year’s race relates to my trip to France last year. Stage 5 follows the route the fanbus took from Grenoble up through the Allemond switchback below the barrage, or Grand Maison Dam, and finally up to Vaujany. From there I took a cable car over to Alpe d’Huez, where Nairo Quintana nearly pulled back enough time on Chris Froome to win the 2015 tour. In this year’s Dauphine the riders will not need to take the cable car! But I recall being impressed by the steep road up to Vaujany, while also feeling slightly concerned about the bus making it all the way up (and back down) safely! So good luck to the riders!
A note on the name- Criterium (Crit) is often used in cycling for a race on a loop, often in a city centre for say 1 hour. So that makes this race the biggest Crit! (If you want to see a Crit up close, why not visit Stirling Bike Club’s Crit Under the Castle later this month.)
If you enjoy the Tour or are looking for a way to learn more about cycling ahead of it, then tune in on Eurosport, if you can, for a great race with fantastic scenery.
And drop in to the Inrng.com page for excellent stage previews and recaps.
While Procyclingstats will give you daily results.