The route’s been unveiled and so time for some quick stage-by-stage notes. It looks like a hard edition with some promising “new” roads saved for the final weekend.
The race will take place between Sunday 4 June and Sunday 11 June.
Already announced last month, the opening stage takes place on the flanks of the Massif du Sancy, the area visited by the race last year when David Gaudu mugged Wout van Aert in the sprint and also on roads that the Tour de France will borrow in July when it will also use bigger mountain passes during Stage 10. All this isn’t a coincidence, the region wants to promote the area. First a big loop towards Le Mont Dore, then four laps of a finishing circuit. It’s a lumpy stage with some small roads but nothing fierce.
Another hilly day in the Auvergne region, another course with a finishing circuit that avoids some of the bigger climbs. Who ever won the previous day has a good chance of striking again today. If you want detail in the finishing circuit, note Saint-Paul-de-Senouire is Saint-Pal, and the Côte des Guêtes is the D20 road to the village of Connangles, a regular wide road.
Not to name names but recent editions of the Dauphiné have been so hilly that sprinters have shown up, collected their road book and discovered there’s not a single stage for them; at least they got a week to work on their climbing ahead of the Tour. This stage though does suit the sprinters, if any attend.
A 31km time time trial, one third longer than the Tour’s TT quasi-mountain time trial stage. This is no dragster course but still suits the specialists with a 10km false flat up to the finish, all through rural farming country full of charolais cattle.
If it’s late into the Tour de France and you get a sense of déjà vu it could because of memories from this stage as it overlaps with the route of Stage 19 on the way to Salins-les-Bains, a spa town once renowned for its salty waters and today the kind of place you might ride through and remark on its charms but conclude that it’s seen better days. The final climb is hard, a forest backroad to Thesy that should select the winner before a fast descent on a wider road.
Out of the Jura and into the Alps, the graphic above suggests not much is happening until late but the route will sap the riders. The big question is will much happen later on? The Col des Aravis is a big ring climb but that just means the speed is higher before the finish to Crest-Voland, half way up the Col des Saisies with a finish at 1,218m. The final climb’s got a hard start but in avoiding the whole climb it’s a bit of a softer stage that’s open to all, someone from the breakaway will fancy their chances.
4,000m of vertical gain in under 150km and you can see the substantial flat sections, it’s really 4000m in 100km which is beaucoup. The Col de la Madeleine is a staple of the Dauphiné and Tour de France over the years leading the riders over to the Maurienne valley. Then comes the Croix Fer summit finish. But look closely and it’s via Albiez-le-Jeune to the Col du Mollard and this route from Villargondran is a “new” way up for the sport – used in the 2015 Tour de l’Avenir – the road has about 45 hairpin bends – double Alpe d’Huez’s 21 in less distance – before picking up the main road to the Croix de Fer and a very hard slog to the top.
If life should ever bring you to Grenoble with a bike, this is a textbook ride to do in a day. Starting in the suburb of Pont-de-Claix, it’s up the Isère valley via the balcony road to the Col des Mouilles before dropping to the valley and then comes the glorious Chartreuse Trilogy with a side route up Mont Granier before the Cucheron and Porte and the descent back to Grenoble.
It’s here the race reprises the climb of the Bastille above Grenoble. It’s not a new road but almost as nobody in today’s peloton has done it. Used seven times before, the last occasion was a prologue in 2000 but it’s probably infamous for the finish in 1977 when Bernard Hinault – who’d taken a few wins but was still just a promising rider – was leading solo in the yellow jersey but descending the Col de Porte, crashed at speed on a bend and had to be pulled out of the woodland below the road and was put back on his bike. He completed the rest of the descent and rode to the Bastille where he got off his bike, shouting “I want to quit” but his manager Cyrille Guimard put him straight back on the bike and he won the stage and race. If Bernard Hinault wanted to give up it suggests it’s hard and it is.
The World Tour 18, plus Lotto-Dstny, Total Energies, Israel and Uno-X. The same teams will do the Tour de France.
This race sprawls over the entire Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes mega region and this year’s edition even crosses in the nearby Bourgogne-Franche-Comté too rather than sticking to the actual Dauphiné area as the name suggests but a rant about this will be saved for when the race is actually happening in June. Otherwise this is an enticing route because of the final weekend. The start is a bit plodding, scenic but without much more but the time trial stage will shake-up the GC, the stage to Salins should have a lively finish. It’s the last two stages that stand out, the hairpin-heaven ascent of the Croix-de-Fer is a novelty but also strategic, the twistier a climb the more a rider will pay for not being at the front. The final stage offers plenty, traditionalists might long for a 250km stage but they don’t happen any more in the Dauphiné, instead this is another concentrated stage with few moments to rest, all before the vintage climb to the Bastille.
We’ll have to see who rides – update: Friday’s L’Equipe reports Vingegaard, Carapaz, Adam Yates, Gaudu, Dani Martinez , Alaphilippe, Hindley, Landa among others – but the course shouldn’t leave much doubt about the winner, a 30km TT and two solid, if compact, mountain stages. Last year’s edition didn’t scream Jonas Vingegaard but looking back with hindsight at the body language atop the Plateau de Solaison and there was a message, no?