The build-up to the 2011 Tour de France starts in earnest with the prologue of the Critérium du Dauphiné in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne on Sunday, June 5.
Critérium du Dauphiné provides a mini-Tour de France over eight days of racing. The short, sharp opening prologue is followed by two road stages this year and then a long and likely decisive 42.5km individual test against the clock around Grenoble.
Four further stages test the riders legs in the Alps, giving the climbers a chance to assess their form ahead of the Tour and make a mark on the race. Rather than just being a pre-Tour testing ground, the Dauphiné is a respected UCI Worldtour race in its own right.
Defending 2010 champion Janez Brajkovic (Radioshack) returns, but absent from the start list is last year’s runner-up Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank). The Spaniard sits out the race after winning the Giro d’Italia last month.
Brajkovic’s main challengers are likely to be Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale), Robert Gesink (Rabobank), Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Christophe Riblon (Ag2r) and Britain’s Bradley Wiggins (Sky).
Wiggins is in good form, having won the time trial stage in Bayern Rundfahrt at the end of May and placed third overall in Paris-Nice in March. He is joined on team Sky by Geraint Thomas, who won Bayen-Rundfahrt overall and placed fourth in the opening prologue of last year’s Dauphiné.
Daniel Lloyd (Garmin-Cervelo) is the only other British rider in the race. Watch out for Lloyd’s Irish team-mate Daniel Martin in the mountains.
Critérium du Dauphiné 2011: Stages
Prologue, Sunday 5 June, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, 5.4km ITT
Stage 1, Monday 6 June, Albertville to Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse, 144km
Stage 2, Tuesday 7 June, Voiron to Lyon, 179km
Stage 3, Wednesday 8 June, Grenoble to Grenoble, 42.5km ITT
Stage 4, Thursday 9 June, La Motte-Servolex to Mâcon, 173.5km
Stage 5, Friday 10 June, Parc des Oiseaux – Villars-les-Dombes to Les Gets, 210km
Stage 6, Saturday 11 June, Les Gets to Le Collet d’Allevard, 192.5km
Stage 7, Sunday 12 June, Pontcharra to La Toussuire, 117.5km
Critérium du Dauphiné 2011: Teams
Ag2r La Mondiale
Critérium du Dauphiné 2011: TV guide
The 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné will be shown on satellite and digital channel British Eurosport, British Eurosport 2 and British Eurosport HD. David Harmon and Sean Kelly will provide the commentary.
Sunday June 5, 7.15-8pm, Prologue highlights, British Eurosport 2
Monday June 6, 2.30-4.30pm, Stage one LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Tuesday June 7, 2.30-4.30pm, Stage two LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Wednesday June 8, 2.30-4.30pm, Stage three LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Thursday June 9, 2.30-4.30pm, Stage four LIVE, British Eurosport
Friday June 10, 2.30-4.30pm, Stage five LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Saturday June 11, 5.45-7pm, Stage six highlights, British Eurosport
Sunday June 12, 5.15-6.30pm, Stage seven highlights, British Eurosport
Full British Eurosport listing can found found on the channel’s website>>
2010 winner Janez Brajkovic
Critérium du Dauphiné: Recent winners
2010: Janez Brajkovic
2009: Alejandro Valverde
2008: Alejandro Valverde
2007: Christophe Moreau
2006: Levi Leipheimer
2005: Inigo Landaluze
2004: Iban Mayo
2003: Lance Armstrong
2002: Lance Armstrong
2001: Christophe Moreau
2000: Tyler Hamilton
Critérium du Dauphiné: Last year’s top ten
1. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) RadioShack in 28-06-28
2. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at 1-41
3. Tejay van Garderen (USA) HTC-Columbia at 2-41
4. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 3-46
5. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 4-17
6. Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom at 4-23
7. Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 4-23
8. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom at 6-16
9. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack at 6-20
10. Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-Doimo at 6-57
21. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky at 11-50
39. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Team Sky at 22-47
Critérium du Dauphiné 2010: Brajkovic wins overall