Critérium du Dauphiné 2024 preview - Roglič vs Remco?

A key race in the build-up to the Tour de France, the Dauphiné will be a true test of climbing abilities

Widely regarded as a mini-Tour de France, the Critérium du Dauphiné is a key indicator for both riders and fans of who is going to be winning yellow in the Grande Boucle a few weeks later. With a mix of rolling stages, sprint stages, an individual time trial and three brutally tough mountain days, the Dauphiné tests riders across all bases and usually draws in a field which includes some of the best general classification riders in the peloton.

Defending Dauphiné champion and last year’s Tour winner, Jonas Vingegaard, won’t take part in the eight-day race this year while he continues to recover from his crash in Itzulia, but there’s still a strong field taking to the start. Riders like Remco Evenepoel and Primož Roglič will both be fancying their chances at success in France, though injuries have plagued both of their preparation phases for this race. The Dauphiné will be a true test of whether they have recovered in time for a big month of racing in July, or if another rider could surprise everyone by throwing their hat in the ring as a GC contender.

Taking place from Sunday June 2 to Sunday June 9, this is everything you need to know about the route and contenders for the 2024 Critérium du Dauphiné.

Route

Criterium du Dauphine 2024 route map

The 2024 edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné is not for the faint hearted. ASO, the race organiser, has designed a spectacularly testing route that will bring out the best mountain goats in the peloton.

Stage one

Critérium du Dauphiné 2024 stage one profile

Things start off slowly in Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule with one of the few stages in the race which should favour the sprinters, before the peloton will already start climbing in stage two.

Stage two

Critérium du Dauphiné 2024 stage two profile

Covering 142km, the second day of the Dauphiné begins in Gannat and includes four categorised climbs, the toughest being the second category Côte de Saint-Georges-en-Couzan which spans 7km with an average gradient of 7.8%. This is a day which should suit punchy breakaway specialists. 

Stage three

Critérium du Dauphiné 2024 stage three profile

The third stage of the race is another rolling one with multiple third and fourth category climbs which will suit the puncheurs, while the fourth stage of the race is a race against the clock.

Stage four

Critérium du Dauphiné 2024 stage four profile

Spanning 34.4km, the individual time trial is relatively flat before gradually climbing towards the end, something that should suit the time trial specialists. 

Stage five

Critérium du Dauphiné 2024 stage five profile

Stage five is another rolling day which could give a chance to some of the sprinters who can make it over small climbs, finishing in Saint-Priest after 167km. It’s then in the final three stages of the race where the general classification contenders should really come to the fore.

Stage six

Critérium du Dauphiné 2024 stage six profile

Stage six sees the first mountain finish of the race on Le Collet d'Allevard, a tough 11.2 kilometre climb at 8.1% average gradient. This is where we should get a true indication of who is going to be in the fight to win the yellow jersey overall. 

Stage seven

Critérium du Dauphiné 2024 stage seven profile

The following day is similarly difficult with a huge 4,227m of climbing, ending atop Samoëns 1600, a 10 kilometre climb with 9.3% average gradient. 

Stage eight

Critérium du Dauphiné 2024 stage eight profile

The Dauphiné will end with another summit finish on the Plateau des Glières at the end of a 158.8km-long stage. With over 3,300m of elevation gain in every stage for the final three days of the race, whoever pulls on the yellow jersey at the end will be a well-deserved winner.

Contenders

The famed Itzulia Basque Country crash scuppered preparations for many of this year’s Tour de France contenders, namely the defending Tour champion, Jonas Vingegaard. The extent of the Visma-Lease a Bike rider’s injuries mean he’s not yet recovered in time to take to the start of the Dauphiné, and his absence will certainly be felt. However, there are still some big-name GC riders competing the week-long stage race, so we will get a clear indication of who is in their top form ahead of July.

Photo: ASO/Billy Ceusters

At the top of the list of favourites for the Dauphiné is Primož Roglič who will be hoping to perform well for Bora-Hansgrohe after he abandoned his last race, Itzulia Basque Country, with a knee injury. Before he left the race in Spain, Roglič had shown some promising form with a win in the individual time trial on the opening stage, but it remains to be seen how his injury has impacted his training in the lead up to the Dauphiné. The Slovenian rider has a strong team around him with the likes of Jai Hindley and Aleksandr Vlasov, both of whom should be ready to step into Bora’s leadership role if anything goes wrong for Roglič during the week.

Photo: ASO/Billy Ceusters

It’s likely that Roglič’s main challenger at the Dauphiné will be Soudal–Quick-Step’s Remco Evenepoel. The Belgian rider also was part of the mass pile-up at Itzulia a few months ago, breaking his collarbone and scapula in the accident. He looks to have recovered quickly in the lead-up to the Dauphiné, however, logging some big rides on his Strava in the last few weeks. Evenepoel won the Volta ao Algarve at the start of the season and finished second in Paris-Nice in March, so clearly has some solid form in 2024, but there are still question marks over his climbing ability in the long mountains, so the Dauphiné will be a big test for the 24-year-old.

Photo: ASO/Billy Ceusters

Last year’s Vuelta a España winner, Sepp Kuss, will likely head to the Dauphiné as Visma-Lease a Bike’s protected GC leader following Vingegaard’s crash, and the American rider is in with a good shot at victory in France. Kuss has raced mainly in a support role in 2024 so far, but showed promise with strong performances in the mountains in both the Volta ao Algarve and the Volta Catalunya. With a full team behind him backing him for success, including Paris-Nice winner Matteo Jorgenson, Kuss should take confidence that he can go for yellow at the Dauphiné.

Although still young at 29 years old, Kuss represents an older guard of general classification contenders when compared to the likes of Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) and Carlos Rodríguez (Ineos Grenadiers). At 21 and 23 years old respectively, both riders are relatively new to the professional peloton, but both have made names for themselves as strong general classification riders. Ayuso eventually won Itzulia Basque Country overall in April, and finished second behind Vingegaard in Tirreno-Adriatico in March earlier this year. Ayuso has experienced teammates around him with Marc Soler and Pavel Sivakov, so he has a good shot at success.

Photo: Zac Williams/SWpix

Rodríguez has had a similarly good season so far in 2024, taking the overall victory at Tour de Romandie last month, as well as finishing close behind Ayuso in Itzulia. Ineos Grenadiers proved their collective strength recently at the Giro d’Italia, impressing with their ability to ride together as a GC team, and they will be hoping to do the same at the Dauphiné. Riders like Jonathan Castroviejo and Laurens De Plus will be crucial to Rodríguez’s GC bid.

Outside of the squads with a known focus on the general classification, Santiago Buitrago is a strong climber for Bahrain-Victorious who could perform well at the Dauphiné. The 24-year-old won stage four of Paris-Nice and was second in Valenciana at the start of the season. David Gaudu of Groupama-FDJ will also be hoping for a strong result next week if his team gives him a leadership position. The Frenchman rode the Tour de Romandie in service of Lenny Martinez so the Dauphiné should give him his own opportunity to shine. Finally, Tao Geoghegan Hart is also one to watch for Lidl-Trek next week – the British rider has been coming back from his serious crash in last year’s Giro and looks to be steadily returning to his previous best in each race he does.

Cover image by Billy Ceusters/ASO

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