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May 29, 2015 – Two former Tour de France champions, Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali, will confront one another in the Criterium du Dauphine, this coming June 7-15. But the list of potential winners for the 67th edition is long: Talansky, Van Garderen, Valverde, Rodriguez, Kelderman, Péraud, Bardet, Rolland… and why not Alaphilippe?
What happens in June is rarely repeated in July. You just have to look back to last year to see that Andrew Talansky’s success was overshadowed, with the dazzling win of the Tour by Vincenzo Nibali, who just a few weeks earlier, rode to a less than convincing 7th place on the Dauphiné. Nevertheless, the leaders of all the teams will come to battle for the win that will be decided at the Modane Valfréjus finish line, find their reference points and look for positive signs on the roads of the Critérium.
The 24.5km Roanne-Montagnyteam time-trial should be used fully by the squads to best prepare ahead of the all-important team time-trial in Brittany during Le Tour. The Dignes-les-Bains to Pra Loup stage, which will be exactly the same for Le Tour, will give an idea of the respective forms of the leading climbers in the peloton. And riding the Montvernier switchbacks on the last day will be useful on stage 18 of the Tour de France, when they will be taken on immediately before the finish line at Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.
This year’s June race in the Alps, which features seven of the top ten finishers in the 2014 Tour, is an ideal opportunity for all those who count on defying Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali. Last year’s winner won’t be the only American contender. Tejay van Garderen (3rd in 2010) will be back in action after a long absence.
Spanish hopes will not only lie with Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde, but also Rafael Valls, winner of this year’s Tour of Oman. The state of the Dutch contingent’s form will also be closely scrutinized ahead of the start of the Tour de France in Utrecht. It is expected that Wilco Keldermann won’t be content to just win the jersey for the best young rider a third time and Bauke Mollema could make the most of the route to break out of his relatively discreet showing this season.
Finally, the hold-up that Romain Bardet (5th overall) nearly pulled off on the breath taking Courchevel stage last year was enough to give several French riders in contention some ideas. This is the objective of the AG2R rider from Auvergne, who will be accompanied by Jean-Christophe Péraud.
But the French clan is larger this year with the return of Pierre Rolland (4th on the 2014 Giro), and the much-anticipated participation of Julian Alaphilippe as a team leader, who displayed his climbing capabilities on the Tour of California (2nd), after confirming his puncher attributes in the Belgian Classics (2nd on the Flèche Wallonne and 2nd on Liège-Bastogne-Liège. But he has yet to tame the Alps….
21 teams, the main contenders
MTN-Qhubeka: Boasson Hagen (Nor), Teklehaimanot (Eri)
Bora-Argon 18: Barta (Cze), Huzarski (Pol)
Team Giant-Alpecin: Mezgec (Slo)
Orica-GreenEdge: Meier (Can), S.Yates (Gbr)
Lotto-Soudal: Gallopin (Fra), Vanendert (Bel)
Etixx-Quick Step: Alaphilippe, Bouet (Fra), T.Martin (Deu)
Movistar Team: Valverde (Esp), Dowsett (Gbr), Gadret (Fra)
BMC Racing Team: Van Garderen (Usa), S.Sanchez (Esp), Dennis (Aus)
Team Cannondale-Garmin: Talansky (Usa), D.Martin (Irl), Navardauskas (Ltu)
Trek Factory Team: Mollema (Ned), Zubeldia (Esp)
AG2R La Mondiale: Bardet, Péraud (Fra)
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits: Bouhanni, Simon (Fra), Navarro (Esp)
FDJ: Elissonde, Geniez (Fra)
Team Europcar: Rolland, Voeckler (Fra)
Team Sky: Froome, Stannard (Gbr), Roche (Irl)
Lampre-Merida: Costa (Prt), Valls (Esp), Modolo (Ita)
Astana Pro Team: Nibali (Ita), Boom (Hol), Taaramae (Est)
Team Lotto NL-Jumbo: Kelderman, Tankink (Ned)
Team Katusha: Rodriguez (Esp), Machado (Prt)
Tinkoff-Saxo: C-A.Sorensen, Hansen (Dnk)
IAM Cycling (IAM): Frank (Che), Pantano (Col)