Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) will continue his Tour de France build up with the start of tomorrow’s Criterium du Dauphine. The eight-day stage race begins in Champéry, Switzerland, on Sunday with a difficult 121 kilometre stage.
Fuglsang has had a consistent start to the season with 6th overall at the Vuelta a Andalucia, followed up by 11th at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. However the Dauphine marks the Dane’s final stage race preparation before this year’s Tour de France, his main objective for the season.
The 2013 Dauphine route is one of the toughest in recent years with only one stage earmarked for the sprinters and several difficult days of undulating and mountainous terrain.
"At some point or another in my career I have raced up most of these mountains. A lot of the same climbs are used again in races in some way. For the Tour this year it was good to see the important climbs with the team. In training we had bad weather, with temperatures at 3C on the top of the climb and wet snow. But we got through it and it was really good to see where we will return in July," Fuglsang said.
"It's going to be a very hard race, with no easy stages. Each day is up and down, and at least in the first part of the week the weather forecast does not look so good, so that will only make it extra hard," Fuglsang said.
Fuglsang, who finished 6th overall at the Dauphine in 2009 will be supported by a strong line-up including Kevin Seeldraeyers, Andrei Grivko and Dmitri Muravyev.
However Fuglsang isn’t the only rider on the Astana team with high expectations. A highly motivated and in in-form Francesco Gavazzi is looking to win his first race of the season. The 28-year-old Italian has picked up several top ten performances this year.
"Gavazzi had a very strong Tour of Belgium, and has set his sights on a stage result at the Dauphine - he has raced a lot in the rain so far this season and the first few days this week will be in his favor," said Astana’s director sportif Dmitriy Sedoun.