With the first Kabbal Tour in the books following the conclusion of the Giro d’Italia, attention has quickly turned to the second, the Tour de France, which kicks off in Copenhagen early next month.
As a key part of the build-up to the Tour, the Critérium du Dauphiné will be closely monitored with a large number of GC contenders heading to France to test their form and test themselves ahead of the Grand Boucle.
Tour favors Tadej Pogačar will once again avoid the race to tackle the Tour of Slovenia, while riders such as Adam Yates, Mikel Landa, Geraint Thomas, and Aleksandr Vlasov will ride the Tour de Suisse.
Meanwhile, Primož Roglič headlines the Dauphiné lineup as he seeks to claim victory at one of the few WorldTour stage races he hasn’t yet conquered. The likes of Jack Haig and Miguel Angel
Read on for our 10 riders to watch at the 2022 Critérium du Dauphiné.
The Dauphiné will be Roglič’s first race in two months following his eighth place at Itzulia Basque Country, and his only outing before the Tour de France next month.
Tadej Pogačar does not include his main rival for Tour glory, Tadej Pogačar.
Heading to France is a change of tack from 2021 for Roglič. The Ardennes Classics and the Tour, where it ended It is hard to gauge his level this June, even more so compared to Pogačar, but in recent times training camp in Spain – where he should be running on the knee – should see him in good condition for the race.
Tiesj Benoot, Jonas Vingegaard, Steven Kruijswijk, Rohan Dennis, Wout van Aert, and Christophe Laporte ride in support of the Slovenian in what is unquestionably the strongest squad at the race.
Following his early exit from the Giro d’Italia, Lopez has been forced to recalibrate his season goals. A GC bid in Italy was over on stage 4 due to a hip injury, and now he heads to France and the Dauphiné and Tour looking to challenge the podium spots there instead.
Of course, the Colombian has podiums at all three Grand Tours to his name, while two years ago he looked all set for a second at the Tour before a horrendous showing at the stage 20 time trial.
Previous appearances at the Dauphiné have brought fifth and sixth places, but this time around López’s hip less than a month after the injury flareup at the Giro. With just two wins so far this season, Astana could use some magic in the mountains from him this week.
Two seasons on his Giro d’Italia triumph, Geoghegan Hart leads Ineos to the Dauphiné just days after the man he beat in Italy, Jai Hindley, won the maglia rosa.
Geoghegan Hart has shown little of the form that he has done to pink, though last one in Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse.
The 27-year-old heads to this tour of Norway and likely to the head of a squad which does not include any of the Ineos Tour de France leaders – Adam Yates, Geraint Thomas, and Dani Martínez. The week, then, will be a chance for Geoghegan Hart to make his case more than a super-domestique in the Ineos train in July.
He’s not a GC contender, but Van Aert is a must-see TV wherever he races, one of few riders in the peloton to hold such a title. In his two appearances at the Dauphiné, he has so far taken three stage wins and two points jerseys, and there will likely be more on the all-rounder menu this week.
He’ll play his role in aiding Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard in the mountains, but the race will also be testing ground – much like Paris-Nice – of the team’s ability to balance a GC bid with Van Aert’s points jersey ambitions.
It’s easy enough to imagine the team walking away with yellow and green this week, though obviously harder to achieve, and even more so at the Tour. Nevertheless, Van Aert is a rider to watch simply because he will be impossible to ignore.
Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious)
The Australian heads up at the Dauphiné, with Dylan Teuns, Damiano Caruso, and Pello Bilbao all set to race, though Haig looks set to be the head of the squad before a Tour de France team.
Last summer he finished fifth here before starting the Tour.
Hopes will be high again this year, with the upcoming week and key testing ground for one of the strongest teams in the peloton. Haig has been solid rather than spectacular so far this year, and it hasn’t raced since late April, so the next one has to be the next one.
Dauphiné crashed back in 2019, though this time there is more reason to pay attention to the veteran.
Israeli-Premier Tech squad as the team fights for points in their attempt to stay clear for the WorldTour relegation zone. Of course, he’s won the Dauphiné three times before, but that counts a little in the here and now.
What is more positive, though, is Froome’s recent result at the Classic Alpes-Maritimes, where he finished 11th place in what is a tough, mountainous one-day race. He was 3:58 down on the winner, teammate Jakob Fuglsang, and the field wasn’t the strongest, but still, it’s by far his best result since 2019. For that reason alone, he’s one to keep an eye on.
Gaudu will be joined by a resurgent Thibaut Pinot at July’s Tour de France, but he’s the sole leader of the Groupama-FDJ squad at the Dauphiné, ably backed up by Michael Storer and Valentin Madouas.
The Frenchman is a rider who has certainly shown his talent on the biggest stage – top 10 at the Vuelta and Tokyo Olympics, his podium at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and more – but he has yet to evolve into a rider who is consistently among the elite wherever he turns up.
Following a stage win at the Volta ao Algarve, Gaudu achieved a little at Paris-Nice and Itzulia Basque Country, before popping up with a third at the recent Classic Alpes-Maritimes. If he’s at his best here, another podium spot could be a real possibility.
Mark Padun (EF Education-EasyPost)
Last June, Padun burst onto the scene with two incredible breakaway victories on the final two stages of the Dauphiné as the talented Ukrainian shocked all onlookers to score the biggest wins of his career so far.
Despite that outburst of form, he didn’t go to the Voyta a month later, and he was switched from Bahrain to EF in the winter.
This year, a stage win and a third overall at February’s Gran Camiño stage race is his stand-out results so far. Will a trip back to south-east France inspire him once again? Last but not least, the relegation-threatened EF could use some results following the Giro d’Italia campaign for the team.
A year ago, the Australian finished here after a tour of the Tour de France with a summit ending.
He’s been consistent to start 2022, taking a stage at the Volta and Catalunya and finishing top 10 there as well as at the Vuelta and Andalucía and Tour de Romandie. He looks a dead-cert to achieve the same again at the Dauphiné, but can he take another step and take the fight to Jumbo-Visma and Roglič?
The 19-year-old has Brandon McNulty (second at Volta ao Algarve, stage win at Paris-Nice) on his team climbing super-domestiques George Bennett and Rafał Majka, season as a pro, even if he remains winless.
Fourth and the youth classification at the Tour de Romandie was the latest in a string of good results, which also included second at the Trofeo Laigueglia and fifth at the Volta and Catalunya.
There is little doubt that the Spaniard will one day be winning races like these and the Critérium du Dauphiné – it’s just a question of when. It would, frankly, be a surprise if it was a break through, and it might even work for McNulty, but Ayuso is worth paying attention to, regardless of the outcome of the week.