The Critérium du Dauphiné returns to its traditional format in 2021, with the individual time trial returning after a one-year hiatus. The route, which was revealed on Monday, will feature back-to-back summit finishes at the Alpine resorts of La Plagne and Les Gets on the final weekend.
Last year’s Dauphiné was the first in the race’s history not to feature a time trial. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event was later moved to mid-August and shortened to five stages, with Daniel Martínez emerging victorious.
The 2021 Dauphiné gets underway in the Auvergne on May 30 with a 182km stage starting and finishing in Issoire, where the rolling terrain might prove beyond the pure sprinters. The fast men should have a more clear-cut opportunity on the following day’s run from Romain Bardet’s hometown of Brioude to Saugues.
Stage 3 brings the race to Saint-Haon-le-Vieux, which features an uphill finishing straight that might tip the balance in favour of finisseurs.
Given the amount of time trialling kilometres on the route of the 2021 Tour de France, it is no surprise that the discipline returns to the Dauphiné this year. Unlike some recent editions of the race, however, the time trial isn’t quite a dress rehearsal for the tests in July, given that the stage from Firminy to Roche-La-Molière is just 16.5km in length.
The terrain becomes more rugged in the second half of the Dauphiné, beginning with a day tailored to puncheurs on stage 5 from Saint-Chamond to Saint-Vallier. The category 2 Côte du Montrebut comes just over 12km from the finish and serves as an ideal springboard for attackers.
That stage serves as a preface to three demanding final days in the Alps. Stage 6 brings the race over the Col de Porte (7.4km at 6.8 per cent) before a two-part climb to the finish at Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse by way of the category-3 ascents of the Côte de la Frette (3.7km at 5.4 per cent) and the Montée du Sappey-en-Chartreuse (3.3km à 6.2 per cent).
The penultimate stage takes in the Col du Pré (12.6km at 7.7 per cent) and the Cormet de Roseland (5.7km at 6.5 per cent), before the stiff haul to the finish at La Plagne (17.1km at 7.5 per cent).
The hors categorie ascent has hosted stage finishes at the Tour de France on four occasions, starting with Laurent Fignon’s victory in 1984. The Frenchman won again three years later, though his stage victory was overshadowed by Stephen Roche’s dramatic pursuit of Pedro Delgado in the race for the yellow jersey. Alex Zülle held off Miguel Indurain to win in 1995, while Michael Boogerd won on the Tour’s last visit in 2002.
The final stage of the Dauphiné features no fewer than six classified climbs including the Col des Aravis (6.7km at 7 per cent) and the Col de la Colombière (11.7km at 5.8 per cent). The day’s toughest climb is the hors catégorie Col de Joux Plane (11.6km at 8.5 per cent), whose summit comes just under 17km from the finish. A sharp drop into Morzine follows, before the short, uncategorised climb to the finish line at Les Gets.
The 19 WorldTour teams and 2020 Europe Tour winners Alpecin-Fenix will compete in the 2021 Dauphiné, while ASO have confirmed that B&B Hotels p/b KTM and Arkéa-Samsic have been awarded wildcard invitations.
2021 Critérium du Dauphiné route
Sunday, May 30. Stage 1, Issoire – Issoire, 182km
Monday, May 31. Stage 2, Brioude – Saugues, 173km
Tuesday, June 1. Stage 3, Langeac – Saint-Haon-Le-Vieux, 172km
Wednesday, June 2. Stage 4, Firminy – Roche-La-Molière, 16.5km (individual time trial)
Thursday, June 3. Stage 5, Saint-Chamond – Saint-Vallier, 175.5km
Friday, June 4. Stage 6, Loriol-sur-Drôme – Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse, 168km
Saturday, June 5. Stage 7, Saint-Martin-Le-Vinoux – La Plagne, 171.5km
Sunday, June 6. Stage 8, La Léchère-les-Bains – Les Gets 147km