ASO presents a mixed 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné route
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

ASO presents a mixed 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné route

by Ben Atkins at 8:59 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Critérium du Dauphiné
Eight-day Tour de France preparation race featuring something for all riders

bradley wiggins

Race organiser ASO has released details of the route of this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné, the prestigious week-long pre-Tour de France stage race. This year’s event, the 64th edition of the Alpine race, will be run between June 3rd and 10th, covering a distance of 1,052km. It includes two stages which will be of particular interest to those targetting the Tour de France.

The eight day race will begin with a 5.7km prologue in the city of Grenoble, the prefecture of the Isère department, and the place were Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) took the yellow jersey on the penultimate day of last year’s Tour de France, having checked out the exact route in the Dauphiné just weeks beforehand. The Australian could only managed second overall in last year’s Dauphiné however, which was won by Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), largely thanks to the British champion’s superior performance in the identical 42.5km test.

At only 5.7km, the Grenoble stage will not be so decisive this time, however, but merely decide the first owner of the yellow and blue jersey.

After a 187km, flat westward stage between Seyssins and Saint-Vallier, the Dauphiné peloton will hit the hills of the Ardèche, with a lumpy 160km course from Lamastre to Saint-Félicien, the home of France’s biggest cyclosportif, l’Ardecheoise, which will take place the week after. Featuring three 2nd category, one third category, and two fourth category climbs - including the short, sharp rise to the finish - the second stage could see an early selection in the race’s general classification.

Stage 3 will another flat day, with 167km between Givors and La Clayette, before the race’s long time trial. The mostly flat 53km between Villié-Morgon and Bourg-en-Bresse should suit a powerhouse like last year’s time trial stage winner, world champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), and should ensure that the overall winner of the race is an all-rounder and not just a climber. It's also practially identical in length to the 52 kilometre time trial which will come one day before the end of the Tour de France.

Having arrived at the foot of the Alps, the following day will head into the mountain range with two tough stages. Stage five, between Saint-Trivier-sur-Moignans and Rumilly, will climb the 2nd category Côte de Corlier, and the 3rd category Col de Richemond, but the major obstacle of the day will take the form of the hors category Grand Colombier. Where last year's race gave riders a preview of the Tour de France's long time trial, this year's Dauphiné will give the peloton a taste of this big climb, which will be featured in the Tour for the first time this July.

Non-climbers will take heart in the fact that the 1501 metre high climb comes 118.5km into a 186.5km stage, giving them plenty of kilometres to make their way back up to the front of the race; the next day they will not be so lucky.

While there is no high summit finish in this year’s race, stage six between Saint-Alban-Leysse and Morzine is almost as tough. The 166.5km stage will begin immediately with the 1st category Col de Plainpalais, then feature the 1st category Col de la Colombière at 102.5km. The day’s toughest test though, will come with the hors category Col de Joux-Plane, which comes just 12km from the finish; from the top, riders will just be faced with the fast, technical drop into the ski resort.

Having survived some of the toughest climbs in the Alps, the peloton will be faced with a short, hilly final day between Morzine and Châtel. The 126km stage will climb the 1st category Col de Corbier with 22.5km to go and, with the race ending atop a 3rd category climb to the finish ASO doubtless hopes that the result will be unknown right to the wire.

2012 Critérium du Dauphiné stages:

Sunday, June 3: Prologue: 5.7 km, Grenoble – Grenoble
Monday, June 4: Stage 1: 187 km, Seyssins – Saint-Vallier
Tuesday, June 5: Stage 2: 160 km, Lamastre – Saint-Félicien
Wednesday, June 6: Stage 3: 167 km, Givors – La Clayette
Thursday, June 7: Stage 4: 53 km (ITT), Villié-Morgon – Bourg-en-Bresse
Friday, June 8: Stage 5: 186.5 km, Saint-Trivier-sur-Moignans – Rumilly
Saturday, June 9: Stage 6: 166.5 km, Saint-Alban-Leysse – Morzine
Sunday, June 10: Stage 7: 126 km, Morzine – Châtel


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