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Critérium du Dauphiné 2012
The 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné has attracted a host of top riders from across the globe and the race is perenially seen as a crucial part of preparations for the Tour de France. 2011 winner Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) is returning to defend his crown but is unlikely to have everything completely his own way due to the presence of Cadel Evans (BMC), Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale).
The race lasts for exactly a week, comprising of a 5.7km prologue and seven stages. Due to its location and the fact that it provides a varied challenge to the participants, the Critérium du Dauphiné is often referred to as a mini Tour de France. But with a rich history that goes back to 1947 and a roll of honour that includes Lance Armstrong, Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain and Bernard Hinault, it's a huge race in its own right.