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Criterium du Dauphine a measuring stick for Contador's Tour de France

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Alberto Contador on the start line for stage 1

Alberto Contador on the start line for stage 1 (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) give his traditional pistolero salute from the podium after winning Pais Vasco

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) give his traditional pistolero salute from the podium after winning Pais Vasco (Image credit: Tim de Waele/
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Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) in full concentration mode prior to the stage

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) in full concentration mode prior to the stage (Image credit: Tim de Waele/
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Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff) makes a move

Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff) makes a move (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Michael Valgren (Tinkoff)

Michael Valgren (Tinkoff) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

How to follow the Critérium du Dauphiné: Cyclingnews will have live text coverage from start to finish for every stage, as well as rider interviews, race reports, podcasts, video highlights and post-race analysis.

In 2015, after winning a particularly difficult edition of the Giro d'Italia, Alberto Contador faced an uphill challenge to recover and prepare for the Tour de France. The Tinkoff captain said at this time last year he was "destroyed", but feels much better this season as he prepares to head into the Critérium du Dauphiné as his final preparation for the Tour.

"After the Dauphiné is over, I will know whether I have to give more intensity to my training or if we have to be a little more cautious. I feel much better than last year. At this point I was destroyed, very tired because of the demands of the Giro d'Italia. I feel much better now," Contador said.

Contador has finished on the podium of all of the races he's done this year - beginning with a third place overall in the Volta ao Algarve, second in Paris-Nice and the Volta Catalunya before winning the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in early April. Since then, he's stepped back somewhat to train for the most important part of the season.

"It has been a busy past few weeks, trying to build a good base, always thinking about the Tour de France," Contador said. "I primarily worked on building my strength and I hope everything goes well. The Dauphiné will be important to build speed in the legs, which is what will still be missing the most, but the most important thing is that there haven't been any setbacks and that's always good news."

Contador will be joined in Les Gets on Sunday by Robert Kiserlovski, Sergio Paulinho, Roman Kreuziger, Michael Gogl, Jesper Hansen, Yuri Trofimov and Michael Valgren, most of whom have been training in Tenerife.

The eight-stage Critérium du Dauphiné will be the first meeting since Catalunya between Contador and his Tour de France rivals Chris Froome and Richie Porte, while Nairo Quintana has opted for a different approach to the Tour.

Contador acknowledged that the course for the Critérium du Dauphiné lacked the dramatic summit finishes of past years, but said the stages are still demanding and could mean he would save his strength for the Tour rather than contest the overall.

"It's very, very hard and demanding. Perhaps it is noteworthy that most of the summit finishes are not very hard, but on the other hand they are preceded by other very demanding climbs. They are finishes of 5% or 5.5%, but you will reach them with just enough strength left. And because it is a very demanding parcours, it alters a bit the 'obligation' to contest the race, because you cannot wear yourself nor the team. We will have to take it day by day."

"After The Dauphiné, I will have to recover and depending on how I feel, we will apply more or less intensity to my training. I will concentrate on keeping working, but the difference will be that I will take part at the Spanish Road Championship, thinking about the Tour as well as about participating in a one-day race, such as the Olympics, even if they aren't comparable."