CRITÉRIUM DU DAUPHINÉ IN PICTURES
The beauty, drama and suffering of the Dauphiné, captured by Thomas Maheux
This was my first Critérium du Dauphiné; I’d never been before, either as a spectator or a photographer.
It’s an interesting race, because this is the dress rehearsal for the Tour de France. The best climbers and the best sprinters all report for duty, and they’re not far from their best form. A lot of spectators, of all ages, came as well. Most seemed to gravitate to the starts and finishes, because the cols themselves seemed less crowded. I was struck by the emptiness of the Col de la Madeleine, compared to how it would have been a month later if it had been used by the Tour de France.
All this reinforced the notion that the Dauphiné is still a rehearsal, a final tune-up for the teams, media and fans before the main event, the Tour de France. Without wishing to sound chauvinistic about bike racing, I was particularly struck by the performance of my young countryman, Julian Alaphilippe. Still only 24, he was up there competing for stage wins, whether in sprint finishes or in the mountains, which I think shows that he has a real thirst for victory, and will leave everything out there to achieve it. It’s impressive, and what’s more he does it all with a smile.
With only a month to go before the Tour, it was really interesting to follow all the team leaders to and observe how each one showed to their rivals that they would be in good form while at the same time not wanting to reveal too much. But the race told us a lot – Froome first, Bardet second and Dan Martin, Richie Porte, Adam Yates and Louis Meintjes all in the top 10. As a dress rehearsal for the Tour, the Dauphiné was almost as good a performance as the real thing.
1. Following an impressive early season campaign, Thibaut Pinot was aggressive and strong at the Dauphiné. Alas, he’d peaked, and he fell apart at the Tour 2. Ag2r La Mondiale’s Alexis Gougeard digs deep in the inal metres of the very tough uphill prologue. He inished 58th at 1:22 from winner Alberto Contador 3. Ryder Hesjedal reels from the e fort of the prologue. In his last season, the Canadian held nothing back and placed a ine 14th 4. Contador poses a little wearily for a photo with a fan ahead of stage 1 5. Gougeard again, this time with a frighteningly deep hole in his knee following a crash on stage 4. He reached the inish but didn’t take the start the following day 6. If this were the Tour, this climb would be packed with fans. If you want to see big names racing hard on famous climbs, the Dauphiné lets you get closer 7. Jesús Herrada takes the biggest win of his career on stage 2 from Crêches-sur-Saône to Chalmazel-Jeansagnière with a perfectly timed late attack 8. These French fans were rewarded for their commitment with sparkling performances from Romain Bardet, Julian Alaphilippe, Pierre Rolland and Pinot 9. Steve Cummings took a brilliant solo win on stage 7 from 50km out. It capped a great race for Dimension Data who also took the points and KoM jerseys 10. Good friends Richie Porte and Chris Froome fought hard for the GC and actually tangled on the inal climb. Froome hung on to win, Porte slipped o f the podium 11. The peloton’s best beard of 2016, Geo frey Soupe, lined up to work for and lead out Co idis sprinter Nacer Bouhanni for a stage win 12. Bardet clearly had mixed feelings at inishing just 12 seconds back from GC winner Froome. The order would be the same in Paris six weeks later, the gap bigger