The Criterium du Dauphine is one of the final chances for riders with GC ambitions to test themselves ahead of the Tour de France in July. A race with prestige in its own right, Criterium du Dauphine winners, have built a reputation of subsequently winning the Tour the following month. Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins, Greg LeMond, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain have all done the Criterium du Dauphine/Tour de France double to name just a few.
The race has also become a hotbed for new tech, as it offers riders an opportunity to test equipment in a race scenario ahead of the biggest event of the season. New frames, components and apparel have all been spotted here in recent years, generally showcasing products that will be available to the general public in the following season.
2017 sees the 69th edition of the race and a stellar line-up including three-time winner Chris Froome, two-time winner Alejandro Valverde, more former winners in Andrew Talansky and Janez Brajkovic, as well as Dan Martin, Richie Porte, Romain Bardet and Alberto Contador who have all podiumed at the race. Esteban Chaves, Simon Yates and an array of sprinters were also on the start line in Saint-Étienne in what should be a thrilling week.
Both Contador and Martin began the race on previously unseen framesets from Trek and Specialized respectively. The Trek Emonda SLR bears the UCI approved frame code that correlates with the 2018 Emonda, whilst Martin's new Specialized points towards the unreleased Specialized Tarmac. Both framesets look as if they will also be released in disc versions, although the calliper versions being raced by the pair each have direct mount brakes.
As well as the headlining bikes from the component giants Trek and Specialized, new frames were seen underneath Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) and Arnaud Demare (FDJ), whom are riding new aero frames from Merida and Lapierre.
Trek-Segafredo also appear to be wearing a new Bontrager helmet. Cyclingnews reached out to Bontrager for a comment and although confirming the team are wearing new helmets, were unable to provide any further information until its official release.
Reigning champion of the event, Chris Froome was the first rider to wear the Sidi Shot shoes at the race last year. This year, Froome seems to be wearing an updated version of the shoe that feature more perforations on the upper suggesting a lighter weight option for climbing or hotter temperatures.
The usual arrays of custom products are also on show at the race. Irish national champion Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing) is wearing Oakley Jawbreakers in Irish colours, custom painted by Optiek Van Gorp. Christian Knees (Team Sky) had a pair of custom Lake shoes, whilst the Astana team leader Fabio Aru had an eye-catching red Argon18 Gallium frameset.
Valverde, Adrien Petit (Direct Energie), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data) and Contador all also had custom painted frames on display at the race.
Click or swipe through the extensive gallery above to take a look on all that was on show at the week-long stage race in France.