Click to enlarge: Criterium du Duaphine 2016 mapWhere: France
When: June 5-12 2016
Rank: UCI WorldTour

Often unfairly dismissed as more of a warm-up to the Tour de France rather than a prestigious event in its own right, up until recently Tour contenders would appear to hold back and settle for finishes in the top five while others would claim the overall.

But then Team Sky shook up the pro scene by doing things their own way, including treating the Critérium du Dauphiné as a race both well worth winning in its own right, and to intimidate rival teams with their strength.

Now the biggest names are all clambering to compete for the win at the Dauphiné, seeking to add a major title to their palmares and deal a critical psychological blow to their rivals. Many of those who animated the Tour the previous year reunite on French roads.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) took a spectacular victory at the 2015 Critérium du Dauphiné after attacking race leader Tejay van Garderen (BMC) on the final climb of the final stage to overturn an 18-second deficit and take his second career Dauphiné victory.

Van Garderen finished second, 10 seconds behind, while Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) rounded-off the podium over a minute back as well as taking a stage win the sixth day of racing.

Britain’s Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) also put in an impressive performance at the 2015 Dauphiné, finishing fifth on GC and taking home the white jersey of the best young rider after finishing ahead of young Frenchman Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale).

Froome, of course, went on to win the 2015 Tour de France, too.

Critérium du Dauphiné 2016 stages
Sunday June 5, Prologue, Les Gets to Les Gets, 4km
Monday June 6, Stage one, Cluses to Saint-Vulbas, 186km
Tuesday June 7, Stage two, Crêches-sur-Saône to Chalmazel-Jeansagnière, 168km
Wednesday June 8, Stage three, Boën-sur-Lignon to Tournon-sur-Rhône, 187.5km
Thursday June 9, Stage four, Tain-l’Hermitage to Belley, 176km
Friday June 10, Stage five, La Ravoire to Vaujany, 140km
Saturday June 11, Stage six, La Rochette  to Méribel, 141km
Sunday June 12, Stage seven, Le Pont-de-Claix to Superdévoluy, 151km

Key info: Route