The 2016 Critérium du Dauphiné route has been announced with the race taking place between June 5-12 and covering 1,147 kilometres. The WorldTour race, which is a key build-up event for the Tour de France, begins with a tough uphill 3.9km time trial in Les Gets.
Race organisers ASO have also unveiled the selection of teams set to take part in the French stage race with the 18 World Tour team joined by four wildcards: Cofidis, Bora-Argon 18, Wanty Groupe Gobert and Direct Energie.
Defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Team), Fabio Aru (Astana), Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Thibault Pinot (FDJ) are all expected to line up in Les Gets on June 5 for the opening stage.
After the lung-busting opening prologue – the only time trial of this year’s race – stage 1 sees the peloton take on more sprint-friendly terrain with a 186-kilometre stage from Cluses to Saint-Vulbas. The nature of the parcours changes once more on stage 2 with the punchers and GC contenders set to do battle on the third category climb to the finish on Chalmazel-Jeansagnière.
With just two fourth category climbs on stage 3 from Boën-sur-Lignon to Tournon-sur-Rhône the sprinters should enjoy their second bite of the cherry. Stage 4 holds a similar opportunity for the fast men with a 176-kilometre stage from Tain-l'Hermitage to Belley.
Stage five, and the second category climb finish should see the overall contenders and climbers of the race more the fore. The opening 80 kilometres of the stage is peppered with climbs – six in all – before the long section in the valley before the final ascent and first proper mountain-top finish.
The following stage could prove to be even more decisive with 4000 metres of climbing packed into the 141 kilometres. The stage include the Col de la Madeleine (Hors Category) after 50 kilometres of racing before a long descent to the first category Montee des Frasses and the first category, and final uphill battle to Meribel.
The Méribel stage boasts a total elevation gain of 4,000 metres. The finale looks a bit less impressive on paper but if someone lights up the fireworks, the contenders for the podium places could end up strewn across the road on Col de Noyer. The climb is followed by a descent where chunks of time can be gained and lost and the final effort on the slopes of Superdévoluy.
The final stage from Le-Pont-de-Claix to Superdévoluy, at 151 kilometres, could well decide the overall classification. Like the previous two stages it is full of climbing, with the Cote de Monteynard coming right at the start. Three more categorized climbs follow before the penultimate ascent of the Col du Noyer and the final climb of the race, and the final summit finish at Superdévoluy, where Samuel Sanchez won a memorable stage for Euskaltel-Euskadi in 2013.
Sunday, June 5 – Prologue: Les Gets, 3.9 km (ITT)
Monday, June 6 – Stage 1: Cluses > Saint-Vulbas, 186 km
Tuesday, June 7 – Stage 2: Crêches-sur-Saône > Chalmazel-Jeansagnière, 167.5 km
Wednesday, June 8 – Stage 3: Boën-sur-Lignon > Tournon-sur-Rhône, 182 km
Thursday, June 9 – Stage 4: Tain-l'Hermitage > Belley, 176 km
Friday, June 10 – Stage 5: La Ravoire > Vaujany, 140 km
Saturday, June 11 – Stage 6: La Rochette > Méribel, 141 km
Sunday, June 12 – Stage 7: Le-Pont-de-Claix > Superdévoluy, 151 km