Organisers announce 'new challenges' for 2019 Criterium du Dauphine

Organisers of the Critérium du Dauphiné, ASO, announced the details of this year's route at a presentation in Lyon on Monday. The race will start on June 9 in Cantal for the first time and follow a 1,200km course to the June 16 finale at the Swiss ski resort Champery.

In addition to the route, organisers announced wildcard invitations for four teams: Cofidis Solutions Credits, Arkea-Samsic, Vital Concept-B&B Hotels and Wanty-Groupe Gobert, that will race alongside the 18 WorldTour teams.

Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme and President of Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes regional council Laurent Wauquiez were on hand to present the route, noting that the 71st edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné will take on a host of new roads and visit new locations.

In a press statement, ASO emphasised that Tour de France favourites will "ride on somewhat unaccustomed mountain roads to test themselves against each other and maybe try and spring a surprise."

The theme for the Critérium du Dauphiné this year is centered around giving the peloton opportunities to take on new challenges. The event will begin for the first time in the Cantal department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France, where the climbers will be presented with the first significant ascent over the Puy Mary on stage 1's 142km race from Aurillac to Jussac.

Stage 2 will also test the peloton along a 180km route from Mauriac to Craponne-sur-Arzon, which boasts challenging climbs in the Auvergne region.

The sprinters will have two days to themselves on stage 3's 172km race from Le Puy-en-Velay to Riom, and again on stage 5's 200km route from Boën-sur-Lignon to Voiron.

There will be a time trial effort in Roanne on stage 4 along a hilly 26.1km course that is a near replica, in terms of distance and profile, of the time trial in Pau on July 19 at the Tour de France.

The time trial could create some additional separations among the overall contenders before they reach the bulk of the climbing in the final three stages.

Organisers have emphasised their decision to break away from the more well-known ascents used in the previous editions of the Critérium du Dauphiné. Stage 6 is the longest race at 228km from Saint-Vulbas-Plaine de l'Ain to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne and will include a climb over the Col de Beaune and a tricky descent down into Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne.

Stage 7 will be the most demanding of all the stages, with 4,150m of gradient to climb over the 133km course. It will begin in Saint-Genix-les-Villages but finish on the summit of Les Sept Laux-Pipay. The slopes of Prapoutel-Les-Sept-Laux was climbed by the riders on the Tour de France in 1980.

The final stage 8 will visit some traditional climbs but in a different order. The 113.5km race will start in Cluses and climb Les Gets, the Col du Corbier, the Châtel ski resort and into the Swiss resort of Champéry.

Critérium du Dauphiné 2019 stages:

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