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Race to start in Switzerland for first time in 65-year history
A month before the official presentation, the Dauphiné Libéré newspaper, which used to run the Criterium du Dauphiné, has revealed the broad outline of the week-long stage race which often acts as a crucial stepping stone en route to July for the Tour de France’s overall contenders.
Two new mountaintop stage finishes will feature on the 2013 route according to the Dauphiné Libéré, at Valmorel and Super-Devoluy. Other innovations include a start in Switzerland for the first time in the 65-year-old event, as well as the absence of an opening prologue.
The Grand Départ on June 3rd will be in the tiny village of Champéry, the Dauphiné Libéré says. Champery is 20 kilometres to the south-west the UCI’s headquarters at Aigle and guarantees, thanks to its location, a hilly opening stage. Two sprint stages taking the race back into France then follow, with an individual time trial on the Wednesday, around 30 kilometres long - which is similar to those of the 2013 Tour (32 and 33 kilometres long) - acting as the usual mid-week watershed.
New mountain top finish number one is on the Thursday, at the ski station of Valmorel in the centre of the French Alps, a 14.6 kilometre climb with few changes of gradient from its average of 6.4 percent, making it a relatively steady and not overly decisive uphill slog. Then on the Friday comes a stage between La Lechere and Grenoble that could take in either the Chartreuse mountains, the Madeleine or the Balcons de Belledonne.
The second mountain top finish will be on Saturday June 8th at Super-Devoluy, another new summit for the race, this time in the southern Alps. The notoriously steep Côte de Laffrey and the steadier, but longer, Col du Noyer, which both featured on an epic stage in the 1971 Tour won by Luis Ocaña, are both likely to feature, according to the newspaper. A final mountainous stage on June 9th will run from Sisteron to Risoul.
Amongst those expected to take part are Albert Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), Cadel Evans (BMC) and possibly Chris Froome (Sky), fourth in 2012 behind his team-mate Bradley Wiggins. The chances of Wiggins trying to equal the record of three Dauphiné Libere victories held jointly by Nello Lauredi, Ocaña, Charly Mottet and Bernard Hinault in 2013, though, are low, given he’ll most likely just have completed the Giro d’Italia.