Criterium du Dauphiné 2021 – Overall preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Criterium du Dauphiné 2021 – Overall preview

By David Hunter

It’s crazy that the Dauphiné starts the same day as the Giro ends, but at least we won’t have a Giro hangover to worry about. For many, the last preparation race before the Tour de France, time to look at the route.

Stage 1

The opening stage is harder than it looks. We have three laps of a circuit that contains a fairly challenging climb. Too hard for the sprinters, this one will interest the breakaway riders and puncheurs.

Stage 2

3227m of climbing, which is quite a lot. The cat 2 climb near the finish will make this an explosive end to the stage. It’s hard enough to turn this into a GC day, but we could see a late attack take the win.

Stage 3

The easiest stage, but it does have a challenging uphill sprint. The quick men will still hope to win, but they’ll need to hang tough.

Stage 4

A tricky TT with a fair bit of climbing. This is good news for the climbers who normally struggle on their TT bike.

Stage 5

With a steep wall near the finish, this should be a day for the GC riders, or maybe a late attack.

Stage 6

Not that hard, but this will mark the start of the GC battle.

Stage 7

Mountaintop finish at La Plagne. 17.1km at 7.4% is long and hard.

Stage 8

One of those short, intense stages. Just 137km in length, but it has nearly 4000m of climbing. Col de Joux Plane is a hugely challenging climb, 11.7km at 8.5% means we’ll see big gaps between the main riders. I’m looking forward to watching this one.

Contenders

Ineos – they arrive with a typically strong team, I expect Thomas and Porte to be co-leaders, with Geoghegan Hart in reserve. Thomas was very impressive in Romandie, which followed up an equally strong ride in Catalunya. He is looking close to his best again, which is great to see. Porte has been his usual consistent self since coming back to the team, he was 2nd in both Catalunya and Romandie. Given the strength of their team, it’s possible they could finish 1st and 2nd on GC.

Jumbo-Visma – Kruijswijk is yet to really get going yet this season, his team really need a good result from him before the Tour. They also arrive with Kuss and Vingegaard, two riders who could do very well in this race. Kuss was really good in Catalunya but suffered a bit in the tough conditions in Romandie. Vingegaard has enjoyed a brilliant season, he’s been one of the surprise packages of 2021. The three riders will form a strong unit at this race, this is needed to challenge a strong Ineos. I would imagine that Kuss will be their strongest rider this week.

Miguel Ángel López – his recent win in Andalucía was good to see, especially after a disrupted start to 2021. Okay, he wasn’t up against a high level, but a win’s a win. He’ll head to this race with some confidence, but his level is likely to be a little lower than his main rivals, as he hasn’t raced an awful lot this year. Hopefully he can do better than I expect.

David Gaudu – 2021 has already been a successful year for the Frenchman, with a stage in the Basque Country and 3rd place in Liège. We are now entering the second part of his season, where the Tour de France is his big goal. The TT bike is still an issue for him, he’ll lose time to his rivals during this stage, making winning the GC very difficult. However, I do expect him to be challenging in several stages.

Ion Izagirre – a stage win in the Basque Country and a decent performance in Romandie, Izagirre has been going well this season. The race looks good for him, he’ll be hoping to do well in the TT and set up a challenge for the overall podium.

Wilco Kelderman – a crash in the Basque Country ruined his hopes in that race and in the Ardennes. He did manage to finish 10th in Romandie, but I get the feeling he was still hampered by his crash. This was a shame as he started the season with an impressive 5th place in Catalunya. Kelderman does seem to be enjoying his move to Bora, I would hope to see him challenging for the podium in this race.

Nairo Quintana – at last we should get to see him fully fit for the first time in 2021. Despite still recovering from double knee surgery his results have been decent this year, but his win in Vuelta Asturias was a big step in the right direction. Quintana will lose time in the TT, but he’ll still be hoping to challenge for the yellow jersey with some big performances in the mountains.

Ben O’Connor – his move to AG2R is already looking like a good one, I’d be expecting the team to announce a new contract before the Tour de France. 2nd place in the Thyon 2000 stage in Romandie was a great result and so was 6th on GC. He’s a rider who looks on the verge of a big result to me.

Guillaume Martin – his win in the Mercan’Tour was great preparation for this race. Martin is a hugely talented climber; he was very impressive in last year’s Tour de France. He can’t TT, but that should make it slightly easier for him to hunt stages in the weekend stages.

Brandon McNulty – he’s made significant progress this year, he really seems to have grown as a cyclist. His first part of the season was an overwhelming success, I wonder how his current form will be. Last time out it was LBL, and he looked pretty awful. With a rest and a good block of training I hope he arrives in France at his best.

Prediction Time

Ineos look very strong to me, I think we’ll see a win for Geraint Thomas, with Richie Porte finishing 2nd.

David HunterFollow us on Twitter and InstagramJoin us on facebook: Ciclismo Internacional

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