Complete rider, option climber!

February 10 th 2022 - 12:00

We are talking about a concentration of mountains. But to be perfectly precise, the Critérium du Dauphiné is most often presented as a concentration of cycling. And the new geographical orientations that the event has allowed itself for the past several years have opened up possibilities to fine-tune the routes. For example, the first Grand Départ in Ardèche will be an opportunity for the Dauphiné to head to the intermediate ranges that dot the first stages with significant but manageable climbs. But they won't compromise the chances of the sprinters. In the same way, the battle among the climbers will start on the slopes of the Puy de Sancy on day three while keeping the title contenders in a reduced time window.

Complete riders that can hold their own in the mountains rise to the occasion on the Dauphiné. To cover all the aspects of the race, it offers the top all-rounders a chance to shine during its traditional Wednesday time trial. It is quite possible that the big gear riders could score points this year between Montbrison and la Bâtie d'Urfé. But the rest of the programme provides enough opportunities to start the rebellion of the mountain riders. Firstly, through an inspiration, because the peloton will spend part of stage five in the region of Bernard Thévenet, who very fittingly grew up in a place called Le Guidon, long before he defeated Eddy Merckx's in the summer of 1975, in the Dauphiné and then in the Tour de France. The road to Vaujany will take the race to the very heart of cycling history, with a Galibier-Croix de Fer link-up modelled on stage 12 of this year's Tour de France, itself created as a tribute to the Briançon-Alpe d'Huez stage of 1986. More cycling history was made more recently when the Dauphiné encountered the climb to the Plateau de Solaison in 2017. Jakob Fuglsang rode a brilliant race to strip Richie Porte of his leader's jersey. Indeed, the all-rounders don't always have the last word.

Christian Prudhomme

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