Race organiser ASO has revealed the route for the 66th edition of the Criterium du Dauphiné. In what will be the final stage race for many riders before the Tour de France kicks off in Yorkshire, the eight-day stage race in the south-east of France follows a largely mountainous route. Team Sky's Chris Froome is set to defend his 2013 title as are fellow Tour de France contenders Albert Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
The 2014 Criterium du Dauphiné course was revealed at the regional Rhone departmental government in Lyon on Monday in the presence of race director Christian Prudhomme. Lyon also features as scenic backdrop for the first stage, a 10-kilometre time trial which passes through a 1.8-kilometre underground bike tunnel in the city center of Lyon called Le Tube.
From Lyon the peloton heads west towards the Massif Central where the first uphill finish of the eight-day stage race awaits the riders. The Col du Béal featured in the 2010 Tour de l'Avenir where BMC's Yannick Eijssen won ahead of the likes of Darwin Atapuma, Andrew Talansky, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana.
After some stages for the fast men in the south, the second part of the race offers uphill finishes which should see the Tour de France overall contenders battle each other one month before Le Grand Départ. The final weekend features uphill finishes in Switzerland with the Col de la Forclaz (12.6km at 8.2% average) before the final climb to Finhaut-Émosson, a new but demanding climb in the race which is 10-kilometres long and averages eight per cent.
The final stage to Courchevel is short at only 130.5-kilometres but offers the peloton three climbs of the first category and one second category climb. The uphill finish comes after a 5.9-kilometre climb with a 6.2% average gradient.
All 18 WorldTour teams are automatically invited to the Criterium du Dauphiné. Organizers ASO recently offered three wildcards to IAM Cycling, Cofidis and Team NetApp-Endura. These are the same teams that were also invited to the Tour de France where also a fourth wildcard team, Bretagne-Seché, will be part of the peloton.