Preview: Criterium du Dauphine

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The Criterium du Dauphine is upon us, as the World Tour event starts with a prologue in Valence this Sunday, followed by 7 road stages, concluding with a Mont Blanc summit finish next Sunday, 10 June.

The Criterium du Dauphine, a prestigious event in it’s own right, but also the undoubted dress rehearsal to the upcoming Tour de France. This year the Dauphine will really show it’s teeth with only the prologue and stage 3 time trial avoiding the mountainous terrain. The final 4 stages all conclude with the finish line perched up in the clouds. And stage 1 and 2, while they can be considered the easier stages, still take the peloton over no less than 12 categorised climbs between them.

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will have a dynamic team at the Dauphine, with Serge Pauwels, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Steve Cummings being our key figures at the French stage race. A strong African quartet consisting of Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier, Nic Dlamini, Jay Thomson and Johann van Zyl will complete our line-up.

Serge Pauwels – Rider
Dauphiné is one of my favourite races on the calendar. It’s always a hard race but as a team we have been successful there already in the past, especially in 2016 with a stage win of Edvald and Steve. This year the course looks even more challenging than other editions with some short but intense mountain stages towards the end of the week. I am looking forward to a week of proper racing and we would like to achieve some good results. At the same time the Dauphiné is the best race to streamline my shape for the Tour de France.

Lineup
Serge Pauwels
Edvald Boasson Hagen
Steve Cummings
Jay Thomson
Johann van Zyl
Nic Dlamini
Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier

Cover Image Explained
The Chasseurs Alpins (Alpine Hunters) are the elite mountain infantry of the French Army. Founded in 1888 they have a rich history & are considered one of the most effective specialised units in the world.

Mountain combat is one of the most dangerous types of combat as it involves surviving not only conflict with the enemy but also the extreme weather and dangerous terrain.

Sounds a bit like competing with the grimpeurs on the harsh slopes of the Alps. This year’s Dauphine has four consecutive mountain top finishes, enough to make any rider feel like they are being hunted by the parcours alone.

The favourites for the Criterium du Dauphiné will hope to channel the cadence of the Chasseurs, who’s marching pace is 140 steps a minute – faster than any other armed forces units.

Image with apologies to Auguste-Louis Lepère – chapeau.