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...