9 riders to watch at the 2022 Critérium du Dauphiné

Criterium du Dauphine 2022 riders to watch
Ben O'Connor, Primož Roglič, and Tao Geoghegan Hart are among our riders to watch (Image credit: Getty Images/composite)

With the year's first Grand Tour in the books following the conclusion of the Giro d'Italia, attention has quickly turned to the second, the Tour de France, which kicks off in Copenhagen early next month.

As a key part of the build-up to the Tour, the Critérium du Dauphiné will be closely monitored with a swathe of major GC contenders heading to France to hone their form and test themselves ahead of the Grand Boucle.

Tour favourites Tadej Pogačar will once again avoid the race to tackle the Tour of Slovenia, while riders such as Adam Yates, Mikel Landa, Geraint Thomas, and Aleksandr Vlasov will ride the Tour de Suisse.

Meanwhile, Primož Roglič headlines the Dauphiné lineup as he seeks to claim victory at one of the few WorldTour stage races he hasn't yet conquered. The likes of Jack Haig and Tao Geoghegan Hart will be keen to stop him from doing so, while there are also a number of other intriguing names – GC and otherwise – lining up in La Voulte-sur-Rhône on Sunday.

Read on for our 10 riders to watch at the 2022 Critérium du Dauphiné.

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)

MALLABIA SPAIN APRIL 08 Primoz Roglic of Slovenia and Team Jumbo Visma Yellow Leader Jersey prior to the 61st Itzulia Basque Country 2022 Stage 5 a 1638km stage from Zamudio to Mallabia 305m itzulia WorldTour on April 08 2022 in Mallabia Spain Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo MorenoGetty Images

Roglic at Itzulia Basque Country in April (Image credit: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

The Dauphiné will be Roglič's first race in two months following his eighth place at Itzulia Basque Country, and his only outing before the Tour de France next month.

Despite that long layoff and a knee problem which emerged in the Basque Country, he's the clear top favourite for glory this week in a field which doesn't include his main rival for Tour glory, Tadej Pogačar.

Heading to France is a change of tack from 2021 for Roglič. Last year he didn't race at all between the Ardennes Classics and the Tour, where he ended up pulling out due to injuries suffered in a stage 3 crash. It's hard to gauge his level this June, even more so in comparison to Pogačar, but a recent long training camp in Spain – where he ramped up the load on his knee – should see him in very good condition for the race.

Tiesj Benoot, Jonas Vingegaard, Steven Kruijswijk, Rohan Dennis, Wout van Aert, and Christophe Laporte ride in support of the Slovenian in what is unquestionably the strongest squad at the race.

Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers)

Tirreno Adriatico 2022 - 57th Edition - 3rd stage Murlo - Terni 170 km - 09/03/2022 - Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR - INEOS Grenadiers) - photo Luca Bettini/SprintCyclingAgency©2022

Geoghegan Hart in action at Tirreno-Adriatico (Image credit: Sprint Cycling Agency)

Two seasons on from his Giro d'Italia triumph, Geoghegan Hart leads Ineos to the Dauphiné just days after the man he beat in Italy, Jai Hindley, won the maglia rosa.

Since that career-making victory, Geoghegan Hart has shown little of the form that carried him to pink, though last year's Dauphiné saw him score a rare positive result with second in Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse.

The 27-year-old heads to this year's race off the back of fifth at the Tour of Norway and likely at the head of a squad which doesn't include any of the Ineos Tour de France leaders – Adam Yates, Geraint Thomas, and Dani Martínez. The week, then, will be a chance for Geoghegan Hart to make his case that he can be more than a super-domestique in the Ineos train in July.

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)

MEGEVE FRANCE AUGUST 16 Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team Jumbo Visma Green Points Jersey Sepp Kuss of The United States and Team Jumbo Visma during the 72nd Criterium du Dauphine 2020 Stage 5 a 1535km stage from Megeve to Megeve 1458m dauphine Dauphin on August 16 2020 in Megeve France Photo by Justin SetterfieldGetty Images

Van Aert took the green jersey home last year (Image credit: Getty Images)

He's not a GC contender, but Van Aert is must-see TV wherever he races, one of few riders in the peloton to hold such a title. In his two appearances at the Dauphiné, he has so far taken three stage wins and two points jerseys, and there will likely be more on the menu for the all-rounder this week.

He'll play his role in aiding Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard in the mountains, but the race will also be a testing ground – much like Paris-Nice – of the team's ability to balance a GC bid with Van Aert's points jersey ambitions.

It's easy enough to imagine the team walking away with yellow and green this week, though obviously harder to achieve, and even more so at the Tour. Nevertheless, Van Aert is a rider to watch simply because he will be impossible to ignore.

Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious)

The Australian heads up a strong Bahrain team at the Dauphiné, with Dylan Teuns, Damiano Caruso, and Pello Bilbao all set to race, though Haig looks set to be the head of the squad before a Tour de France which will also see him lead the team.

Last summer he finished fifth here before starting the Tour strongly only to crash out on stage 3. Third at the Vuelta a España represented a Grand Tour breakthrough.

Hopes will be high once again this year, with the upcoming week a key testing ground for one of the strongest teams in the peloton. Haig has been solid rather than spectacular so far this year, and he hasn't raced since late April, so a good result at the Dauphiné will be the aim ahead of the big one next month.

Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech)

OULENSSOUSECHALLENS SWITZERLAND APRIL 28 Christopher Froome of United Kingdom and Team Israel Premier Tech during the team presentation prior to the 75th Tour De Romandie 2022 Stage 2 a 1682km stage from challens to challens TDR2022 on April 28 2022 in OulenssousEchallens Switzerland Photo by Dario BelingheriGetty Images

Froome took his best result in two years last week (Image credit: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

Froome hasn't appeared on many – if any – of these lists since his career-threatening Dauphiné crash back in 2019, though this time around there's more reason to pay attention to the veteran.

He heads to the race for the 10th time in his career battling for a place in the Israel-Premier Tech squad as the team fights for points in their attempt to stay clear for the WorldTour relegation zone. Of course, he's won the Dauphiné three times before, but that counts little in the here and now.

What is more positive, though, is Froome's recent result at the Classic Alpes-Maritimes, where he finished 11th place in what is a tough, mountainous one-day race. He was 3:58 down on the winner, teammate Jakob Fuglsang, and the field wasn't the strongest, but still, it's by far his best result since 2019. For that reason alone, he's one to keep an eye on.

David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ)

Gaudu will be joined by a resurgent Thibaut Pinot at July's Tour de France, but he's the sole leader of the Groupama-FDJ squad at the Dauphiné, ably backed up by Michael Storer and Valentin Madouas.

The Frenchman is a rider who has certainly shown his talent on the biggest stage – top 10 at the Vuelta and Tokyo Olympics, a podium at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and more – but he has yet to evolve into a rider who is consistently among the elite wherever he turns up.

Following a stage win and fifth place at the Volta ao Algarve, Gaudu achieved little at Paris-Nice and Itzulia Basque Country, before popping up with third at the recent Classic Alpes-Maritimes. If he's at his best here, another podium spot could be a real possibility.

Mark Padun (EF Education-EasyPost)

LA PLAGNE FRANCE JUNE 05 Mark Padun of Ukraine and Team Bahrain Victorious stage winner celebrates at arrival during the 73rd Critrium du Dauphin 2021 Stage 7 a 1715km stage from SaintMartinLeVinoux to La Plagne 2072m UCIworldtour Dauphin dauphine on June 05 2021 in La Plagne France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

Padun racing to the first of two stage wins at last year's race (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Last June, Padun burst onto the scene with two incredible breakaway victories on the final two stages of the Dauphiné as the talented Ukrainian shocked all onlookers to score the biggest wins of his career so far.

Despite that outburst of form, he didn't go to the Tour a month later, and third at the Vuelta a Burgos was his last major result before he switched from Bahrain to EF in the winter.

This year, a stage win and third overall at February's Gran Camiño stage race are his stand-out results so far. Will a trip back to south-eastern France inspire him once again? It would be a surprise, though not as big as last year's, though the relegation-threatened EF could use some results following what was a very disappointing Giro d'Italia campaign for the team.

Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën)

A year ago, the Australian finished eighth here after a strong showing on the final two mountain stages, and then a month later walked away from the Tour de France with a summit finish win to his name as well as an unexpected fourth overall.

He's been consistent to start 2022, taking a stage at the Volta a Catalunya and finishing top 10 there as well as at the Vuelta a Andalucía and Tour de Romandie. He looks a dead-cert to achieve the same again at the Dauphiné, but can he take another step and take the fight to Jumbo-Visma and Roglič?

Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates)

ZINAL VAL DANNIVIERS SWITZERLAND APRIL 30 Juan Ayuso Pesquera of Spain and UAE Team Emirates celebrates at podium as White Best Young Rider Jersey winner during the 75th Tour De Romandie 2022 Stage 4 a 1801km stage from Aigle to Zinal Val dAnniviers 1664m TDR2022 on April 30 2022 in Zinal Val dAnniviers Switzerland Photo by Dario BelingheriGetty Images

Ayuso won the white young rider's jersey at the Tour de Romandie (Image credit: Getty Images)

The 19-year-old has Brandon McNulty (second at Volta ao Algarve, stage win at Paris-Nice) on his team as well as climbing super-domestiques George Bennett and Rafał Majka, but he has only impressed so far during his first full season as a pro, even if he remains winless.

Fourth and the youth classification at the Tour de Romandie was the latest in a string of good results, which also included second at the Trofeo Laigueglia and fifth at the Volta a Catalunya.

There's little doubt that the Spaniard will one day be winning races like these and the Critérium du Dauphiné – it's just a question of when. It would, frankly, be a surprise if he were to break through and win this race, and he might even be working for McNulty, but Ayuso is well worth paying attention to, regardless of the outcome of the week.

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