This summer presents Chris Froome with a number of opportunities to set some records with his palmares. The first of those comes at the Critérium du Dauphiné, which starts this weekend, and Team Sky has named a balanced team to back him in his ambitions.
Should the Froome claim overall victory at the Plateau de Solaison the following Sunday, he will be the first to win the race on four occasions – putting him ahead of Luis Ocaña, Bernard Hinault, Charly Mottet and Nello Lauredi. A win would also make him the first rider to win three in a row at the pre-Tour test and would set him up to extend his run of Dauphine-Tour doubles.
Following each of Froome’s previous three Dauphiné victories, the 32-year-old has gone onto win the Tour de France. Aside from Froome, only eight riders on 10 occasions have ever won the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de France in the same season and only two (if you include Lance Armstrong) have done it more than once.
Froome will face some very stiff competition for his fourth title in the Dauphiné, with almost all of the Tour de France contenders heading to the week-long French race. The event concludes with three tough days in the mountains, including a new approach to the finish on the Alpe d’Huez on stage 7 and the final stage to Plateau de Solaison. Chief among his rivals is likely to be his former teammate and super domestique Richie Porte, who has won the Tour Down Under and the Tour de Romandie this season. Froome has yet to win a race this season, making it his longest wait for a win since the 2012 season. Early last month, he was hit by a car while training in France, but, fortunately, avoided any serious injuries.
Injuries and post-Giro d'Italia changes, have forced Team Sky to make a few alterations to their line-up. Sergio Henao and Mikel Nieve were on the provisional start list, but they have now been swapped for previously Tour de Suisse bound Philip Deignan, who recently finished the Giro, and Peter Kennaugh.
Further help in the mountains will come from Michal Kwiatkowski and David Lopez, while Christian Knees, Luke Rowe, and Ian Stannard provide power for the lumpy and flat terrain. Geraint Thomas is expected to race at the Tour de France in July, but is not yet confirmed to race before then as he recovers from the injuries he sustained during a crash at the Giro d’Italia. Froome’s other important support rider for the Tour this summer, Wout Poels is expected to ride the Tour de Suisse after missing much of the season due to a knee injury.
Team Sky at the Critérium du Dauphiné: Philip Deignan, Chris Froome, Peter Kennaugh, Christian Knees, Michal Kwiatkowski, David Lopez, Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard.