The Giro d'Italia is barely over and already the peloton is setting its sights on the Tour de France. The Critérium du Dauphiné — a traditional warm up race for the Tour — will see the top-three favourites for the French grand tour on the start line in Lyon.
The last three years has seen a Sky rider win the WorldTour event and in the last two years, then go on to win the Tour in July.
Bradley Wiggins won the 2011 and 2012 events and the defending Tour de France champion Chris Froome returns in the hope of making it successive wins.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) 29-year-old Froome won the Dauphiné last year after claiming victory on stage 5 to Valmorel ahead of Alberto Contador. Froome moved into the leader’s jersey after the win and held it for the next three stages to secure the overall win.
Runner-up in 2013 was teammate Richie Porte who was the only rider to finish within one minute of Froome's time. Froome will start the race as a favourite as Team Sky look to make it four consecutive Dauphiné wins in a row but will face a sterner challenge than last year.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) The five-time grand tour winner may have never won the Dauphiné before but Contador will surely improve upon his 11th place last year, 4:27 minutes down on Froome. Contador is no stranger to success at the Dauphiné with two stage wins to his name and second place overall in 2010.
The 31-year-old is looking to be back to his stage-wining form again in 2014 having won Tirreno-Adriatico in March then Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco in April.
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) For the first time since 2011, Nibali is yet to win a race five months into the season but his goal of 2014 is victory in the Tour de France. Having just finished a training block on Tenerife, Nibali should arrive at the race in good form and the 29-year-old Italian will look to improve on his best finish at the race; seventh overall in 2009.
The last time Nibali rode the Dauphiné was in 2012, where we placed 28th overall but then went on to finish third at the Tour.
Watch the video below to find out the other seven riders who will animate the race over its eight stages.