News Shorts: Criterium du Dauphine - Podcast, Boswell added to Team Sky's Dauphine line-up

With the Giro d'Italia in the rear-view mirror, the Tour de France tune-up season is underway, and everything kicks off this weekend at the Critérium du Dauphine.

One of the most prestigious one-week events on the pro cycling calendar, the Dauphiné has again drawn most of the Tour's top contenders for eight days of hard racing in France.

Defending champion Chris Froome will be looking for win number four, but the competition is set to be fierce with Alberto Contador, Richie Porte, Alejandro Valverde and plenty of other big names in the mix.

The 2017 Critérium du Dauphiné will feature a finish at Alpe d'Huez, with the peloton set to ascend the Col de Sarenne before tackling the final four kilometres of the more celebrated Alpe for a summit finish at the ski station.

The Alpe d'Huez finish comes on the penultimate day of the race and is the highlight of a tough concluding trio of Alpine stages. The Dauphiné gets underway in Saint-Étienne on Sunday, June 4 and ends with a summit finish on Plateau de Solaison a week later.

The opening stage, starting and finishing in Saint-Étienne, features three laps of a tough finishing circuit over the Rochetaillée climb and will provide an early, though hardly decisive, test for the overall contenders.

Listen to the Recon Ride Critérium du Dauphiné podcast to get ready for the race.

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Boswell replaces Deignan in Team Sky's Criterium du Dauphine line-up

Team Sky have announced a late change to their squad for the Critérium du Dauphiné, with the USA's Ian Boswell replacing Philip Deignan.

The team did not reveal the reason behind the late change. However Deignan has recently finished the Giro d'Italia, while Boswell is far fresher – his last race was the Tour of California, where he finished fifth overall.

Injuries and post-Giro d'Italia changes had already forced Team Sky to make changes to their initial line-up. Sergio Henao and Mikel Nieve were on the provisional start list, but they were swapped for Deignan and Peter Kennaugh.

Chris Froome will lead Team Sky as he looks to make history in the Tour de France build-up race. Should Froome claim overall victory at Plateau de Solaison next 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 and would set him up to extend his run of Dauphiné-Tour doubles.

Team Sky at the Critérium du Dauphiné: Ian Boswell, Chris Froome, Peter Kennaugh, Christian Knees, Michal Kwiatkowski, David Lopez, Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard.

Maastricht hoping for Tour de France stage, invests more in cycling events

The Dutch city of Maastricht is ready to invest in more cycling and sporting events after the Tom Dumoulin's success at the Giro d'Italia. In addition to hosting the first Hammer Series event and the opening of the Tom Dumoulin Bike Park, the Limburg region is also setting aside money for a Tour de France stage according to reports in local media.

The city has said that it will invest more than €700,000 in sporting events, with the lion's share going towards a potential Tour de France visit. Maastricht and Valkenburg are said to be joining forces to attract either a Tour stage start or finish and have set aside €525,000 for that purpose.

Tour de France organisers have announced that the 2019 Tour de France will start in Brussels to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Merckx's first win, so a finish in Maastricht could host one of the early stages of the 2019 race.

The Amstel Gold Race will also profit, as the Maastricht contribution is set to double to €50,000 a year. The money will go to the establishment of a women's race plus increased security costs. Other events which will receive money are the Jumping Indoor Maastricht equestrian event and the Ironman triathlon.

Direct Energie seeks Voeckler fans at the Tour

With Thomas Voeckler retiring from professional cycling after crossing the finish line of the Tour de France on Sunday, July 23, his Direct Energie team has come up with a special way to honour the popular French cyclist.

The team announced its unique action on its website.

"To make him live three unforgettable weeks, we concocted a little surprise and we now need your help! We have created four-and-a-half-meter tarpaulins with the image of Thomas, which we wish to have on the Route du Tour."

The team is looking for fans who are willing to display the tarpaulins before, during or after a stage. Those interested can fill out a form on the team's website.

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