The Giro d'Italia is barely over and already the peloton is setting its sights on the Tour de France. The Critérium du Dauphiné — a traditional warm up race for the Tour — will see the top-three favourites for the French grand tour on the start line in Lyon.
The last three years has seen a Sky rider win the WorldTour event and in the last two years, then go on to win the Tour in July.
Chris Froome (Team Sky)
29-year-old Froome won the Dauphiné last year after claiming victory on stage 5 to Valmorel ahead of Alberto Contador. Froome moved into the leader’s jersey after the win and held it for the next three stages to secure the overall win.
Runner-up in 2013 was teammate Richie Porte who was the only rider to finish within one minute of Froome's time. Froome will start the race as a favourite as Team Sky look to make it four consecutive Dauphiné wins in a row but will face a sterner challenge than last year.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo)
The five-time grand tour winner may have never won the Dauphiné before but Contador will surely improve upon his 11th place last year, 4:27 minutes down on Froome. Contador is no stranger to success at the Dauphiné with two stage wins to his name and second place overall in 2010.
The 31-year-old is looking to be back to his stage-wining form again in 2014 having won Tirreno-Adriatico in March then Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco in April.
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
For the first time since 2011, Nibali is yet to win a race five months into the season but his goal of 2014 is victory in the Tour de France. Having just finished a training block on Tenerife, Nibali should arrive at the race in good form and the 29-year-old Italian will look to improve on his best finish at the race; seventh overall in 2009.
The last time Nibali rode the Dauphiné was in 2012, where we placed 28th overall but then went on to finish third at the Tour.
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