The Critérium du Dauphiné is considered the key warm-up race to the Tour de France, as the week-long race covers many of the same roads and climbs so familiar to the Tour. And this year’s race was no exception, racing through the Auvergne region, into the Jura mountains and the Alps. Racing through timeless villages and tackling classic climbs, the Dauphiné is like an appetiser for the main dish that will be served in July.
“It’s probably the greatest week-long race,” Jonas Vingegaard said in the final press conference at the end of a great week of racing. The Dane won two stages in convincing fashion – including the queen stage to the summit of the Col de la Croix de Fer – and in doing so, demonstrated that he is more than ready to defend his Tour title next month.
Rouleur photojournalist James Startt was at the Dauphiné, capturing the action and atmosphere from this year's race.
The peloton rolls through the opening stage over the lush hills of the Auvergne region in central France, a region that the Tour will visit for several days in July as well.
Up-and-coming Belgian, Rune Herregodts (Intermaché-Circus-Wanty), nearly upset the favourites in the opening stage, soloing away from his breakaway companions in the final kilometers, only to be caught in the final 20 metres.
Frenchman Christophe Laporte continues to strike gold for his Jumbo-Visma team as he stormed to victory on stage one, a feat he would repeat on stage three.
The yellow jersey races past a forgotten hotel and restaurant on stage two.
Both Christophe Laporte (left) and Julian Alaphilippe (right) could be seen at the front in the final kilometres of stage two.
Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quick-Step) couldn’t have been happier get a taste of victory once again after a frustrating spring.
The famous bleu, blanc et rouge colours of the French flag offered a familiar backdrop along the roads of the Dauphiné this year.
The pack races through a small village under the attentive eye of some locals as they make their way to the Rhône River Valley.
All eyes were on Jonas Vingegaard in the 31.1km mid-week time trial.
Danish time trial specialist Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates) scored his first professional win with a stunning ride in the time trial on stage four. In some ways it was just a matter of time before the three-time U23 world time trial champion struck gold as a professional, but winning here, in front of his countryman Jonas Vingegaard, was particularly satisfying.
While Vingegaard came up short in the time trial, he managed to take time out of all his rivals for the overall classification and moved into second place.
Haircut anyone? The peloton races past an old French coiffure on stage five.
The peloton races through the town of Salins-les-Bains, the finishing town of stage five.
Steep climbs littered the final 50 kilometers of stage five, and Jonas Vingegaard exploited them perfectly. After following an attack by Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost), he then dropped the Ecuadorian and soloed to victory.
Vingegaard may be wearing the yellow jersey, but he still managed to find some quality time with his family.
The peloton winds its way into the high mountains mid-way through stage seven.
Vingegaard cruises over the summit of the mythic Col de la Madeleine on stage seven with the yellow jersey comfortably on his shoulders.
With a blistering attack in the final kilometers, Vingegaard storms to victory on the summit of the Col de la Croix de Fer – the highest finish in the history of the Dauphiné.
Celebrating his 31st birthday on the final stage, Alaphilippe jumped into the early breakaway in search of a second stage win.
Through the rugged Chartreuse Mountains that surround Grenoble, Jonas Vingegaard raced at the front of the bunch for the entire final stage.
Popular Italian rider Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) soloed to a stunning victory on the steep pitches of the Bastille climb that towers over Grenoble. After missing his native Giro d’Italia with Covid-19, Ciccone was only too happy to get back to his winning ways.
Alaphilippe may have come up short in his quest for a second stage win, but he still remains a crowd favourite in this historic French race.
With victory in the Dauphiné now part of the past, Jonas Vingegaard can get a little downtime with his family before making his final preparations to defend his title in July.