The Tour de France starts this Wednesday. Even if the Grande Boucle will only start on August 29 from Nice, the 72nd edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné, from August 12 to 16, is more than a prologue before the Tour. Usually, the contenders for the yellow jersey on the Champs-Elysées are divided between the Dauphiné and the Tour de Suisse.
And, above all, they are not yet in top form. This time, the field is exceptionally dense with team leaders already ready for the Tour.
Ineos-Jumbo Visma match continues
It is the shock of the road rollers. The English of Ineos, and their formation of cadors, will confront the Dutch of Jumbo-Visma. Between the Slovenian Primoz Roglic (Tour of Spain 2019) and the Dutch Tom Dumoulin (winner of the Giro 2017) and Steven Kruijswijk (3rd of the last Tour), the team is scary and has played Egan Bernal during the last Tour de l'Ain. But Ineos knows she can't afford to lose a second time in a row before the Tour.
“Roglic is a leg above everyone, judge Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ). But Ineos was annoyed at the Tour de l'Ain and this time will align his typical team (Thomas, winner of the 2018 Tour, will be alongside Bernal and Froome will seek to prove to his team that he has regained the level to compete in the Tower). I have never seen two such strong teams compete against each other. I hope that doesn't lock the race with a sprint on the last mile of the mountain. But that can be exceptional because the guys who will be only 90% of their physical means will have to worry about the Tour. "
Where are the French at?
Romain Bardet (AG2R), hit in the arm in the Tour d'Occitanie will seek a stage victory in “the toughest Dauphiné that I have seen with four terrible mountain stages”. Thibaut Pinot wants to continue his progression and see if a blow is possible in the middle of the Jumbo-Ineos duel.
“I like races where you quickly find yourself between leaders. I hope it will happen soon. It's really the great repetition of the Tour and I like it. Julian Alaphilippe, winner of stages on the Dauphiné the last two seasons, also likes to be reassured on the roads of Rhône-Alpes before the Tour. “I'm not worried about Julian,” Pinot explains. On the Tour, I see him taking the yellow jersey in the first week and keeping it for a long time ”.
Mask compulsory for spectators
For ASO, the organizer of the Critérium and the Tour, this week is important to test anti-Covid measures in order to avoid contamination during the Tour. The key word will be the “bubble”. At departures and arrivals, the public will be seated far from the runners. He will not be able to approach the team buses or go to the back of the line after the arrivals. Runners will have to refuse any request for selfies or interviews.
During the race, no spectator can be present in the refreshment areas. And at the time of the passage of the race, according to the decisions of the prefects of the departments crossed, the spectators must wear a mask when they encourage the runners. And if the organizers believe that there are already too many people in the passes, they can block access at any time.
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Another novelty: there will no longer be any official jerseys on the podium: as a precaution, the runners will have donned them themselves beforehand to avoid any contact. If the name of the winner of the Dauphiné is still unknown, that of the common enemy is identified: the Covid-19.