TOUGH DAUPHINE LIBERE FOR TOUR CONTENDERS
This year’s Dauphine-Libere stage race will offer the Tour de France contenders a testing but balanced warm-up for the big race in July, with climbs of Mont Ventoux, the Col de la Croix de Fer and the Col du Télégraphe, plus a tough 40km time trial.
The route of the week-long stage race, scheduled for between June 10-17, was revealed on Paris on Wednesday by charismatic organizer Thierry Cazeneuve and race director Charly Mottet and again looks set to be the key build-up race for most Tour de France contenders.
David Millar will be pleased that the race starts with a flat and fast 5km prologue in Grenoble, which will be very similar to the Tour de France prologue in London a month later. The early road stages are for the sprinters and attackers, with the individual time trial coming on Wednesday June 13 around Anneyron on a hilly course that will also be affected by the wind blowing down the Alpine valleys.
Thursday sees the first big mountain stage to the summit of Mont Ventoux, while the Alpine stages comes on the Saturday with the climbs of the Bayard, d'Ornon, de la Croix de Fer, du Mollard and the Télégraphe. The last stage is little easier but includes the Tamie and Forclaz before the finish in Annecy.
Although Ivan Basso and Iban Mayo will be riding the Giro d’Italia, most of the other Tour de France contender are expected to ride the Dauphine Libere, including 2006 winner Levi Leipheimer and Paris-Nice winner Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel), Alexandre Vinokourov Andreas Kloden (Astana), Franck Schleck (CSC), Alejandro Valverde and Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) and Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto).