Critérium du Dauphiné 2023: All you need to know

Eight days of racing will give a us glimpse into who is looking on form for the Tour de France in July

Date: Sunday June 4, 2023 - Sunday June 11, 2023
Start: Chambon-sur-Lac
Finish: Bastille  
Total distance: 1,214.1km 
Stages: Eight 
Teams: 22
Defending champion: Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma)

Taking place in the southeast of France, the Critérium du Dauphiné is considered to be one of the most important races leading up to the Tour de France. Like many other big cycling races, the Critérium du Dauphiné was created by a newspaper to increase circulation, in this instance Le Dauphiné Libéré. After organising the race for many years, the French newspaper handed over its management to the Tour de France organisers ASO in 2010. The Critérium du Dauphiné now holds a prominent place in the ASO calendar of prestigious races. This year sees the race's 75th edition after having first taken place in 1947. 

Attracting some of the best riders, the Critérium du Dauphiné is a week-long showdown for those who will be racing in the Tour in July to fine tune their form. Primož Roglič will not be returning this year to defend his title, but his teammate and 2022 Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard, will be on the startline for the black and yellow clad team. The Jumbo-Visma rider also finished second in last year’s Critérium du Dauphiné and will be rider to beat this year. However, he'll face strong competition from the likes of Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal - Quick-Step), Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën Team), Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), and strong Ineon Grenadiers team containing 2020 winner Dani Martínez, Carlos Rodríguez, and the 2019 Tour winner Egan Bernal. 

Only a handful of riders have won the eight-stage race three times, including Nello Lauredi, Luis Ocaña, Bernard Hinault, Charly Mottet, and Chris Froome. Eleven riders have defended their titles throughout the race’s history, and in recent years, Alejandro Valverde, Bradley Wiggins, and Chris Froome have won the race in back-to-back years. Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas, and Jakob Fuglsang (twice) are all riders who have added their names to the list of victors in this prestigious stage race. 

(Photo: SWPix)

Critérium du Dauphiné 2023 teams:

  • AG2R Citroën Team
  • Alpecin-Deceuninck 
  • Astana Qazaqstan 
  • Bahrain-Victorious
  • Bora-Hansgrohe 
  • Cofidis
  • EF Education-EasyPost 
  • Groupama-FDJ 
  • Ineos Grenadiers
  • Intermarché-Circus-Wanty 
  • Israel-Premier Tech 
  • Jumbo-Visma
  • Movistar 
  • Soudal - Quick-Step 
  • Team Arkea-Samsic
  • Team DSM
  • Jayco Alula 
  • Trek-Segafredo
  • UAE Team Emirates 
  • Lotto Dtsny 
  • TotalEnergies
  • Uno-X Pro Cycling Team

Critérium du Dauphiné route 2023:

Map sourced from official Critérium du Dauphiné website 

The Critérium du Dauphiné opens in Chambon-sur-Lac with a hilly 157.7km-long route. The first categorised climb comes after just 33.8 kilometres of racing with the Côte du Mont-Dore, a 1.8km climb with an average gradient of 5.5%. The stage continues to undulate until just over 88km when the peloton then enters a circuit which they’ll complete three times, tackling the 1km Côte du Rocher de l’Aigle at a punchy 7.3% gradient. After completing the three laps, the stage finishes on a flat stretch in Chambon-sur-Lac. 

Stage two is another lumpy day with hardly any flat for the riders. Just under 100km into the stage, the riders enter another circuit-style course starting in La Chaise-Dieu, where the stage ends with a slight uphill finish. Stage three is the longest stage of the race, covering 194.5 kilometres. It's a day of two halves, with the first half featuring plenty of climbs, most notably the Côte de Bellevue-Montagne – a 4.9km climb at 5.8%. The second half of the day is mostly flat, with the only obstacle for the sprinters being the Côte de Pinay, located just under 20km from the end. 

After three days of road stages, the Critérium du Dauphiné features a 31.1km-long individual time trial from Cours to Belmont-de-la-Loire on stage four. There is only a small climb for the riders at the start of the stage before continuing down for the majority of the TT. Towards the finish, the route gradually goes up, but nothing that would hinder the riders' speed. 

Following a day against the clock, stage five is the second-longest day on the bike at 191.5km. Starting in Cormoranche-sur-Saône, the first half of the day is completely flat for the riders. Just over halfway at 92.3 kilometres, the peloton faces its first climb of the day in the Jura region. Three categorised climbs then appear in the second half of the day – the Côte de Château-Chalon, the Côte d’Ivory and Côte de Thésy. The last climb is the steepest at 8.8%, but the riders are rewarded with a descent down into the finish. 

As the peloton nears the mountains, stage six covers a distance of 170.2 kilometres in length and features four classified climbs. The first comes after 52.8km of racing and is a 7.5km climb at 4.7%. After the first climb, the road undulates, and it is in the last 30km that the rest of the climbs are clustered together. The Col des Aravis is first, then the Côte de Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe, before a summit finish in Crest-Voland. 

Stage seven is when the real mountains arrive, packing over 4,000 metres of elevation into the stage. The opening is pan flat until the 60km mark, where the first challenge of the day arrives – a 25.1km-long climb up the Col de la Madeleine with an average gradient of 6.2%. A similar descent follows, leading to the base of another gruelling climb, the Col du Mollard. The stage then finishes with the 13.1km-long Col de la Croix de Fer – a climb that has featured 21 times in the the Tour de France. 

The race finishes on another big day in the Alps, with the climbing starting from the get-go. After only 15km, the riders encounter the first classified climb, followed closely by another. The middle section of the stage mainly descends until 95km, where begins to ascend again, throwing in three classified climbs in quick succession. Following a long, steep downhill, the stage concludes with a final punishing climb that has a 14.2% average gradient. 

Stage one: 158km / Chambon-sur-Lac - Chambon-sur-Lac

Stage two: 167.5km / Brassac-les-Mines - La Chaise-Dieu 

Stage three: 194.5km / Monistrol-sur-Loire - Le Coteau 

Stage four: 31.1km / Cours - Belmont-de-la-Loire (ITT)

Stage five: 191.5km / Cormoranche-sur-Saône - Salins-les-Bains

Stage six: 170.5km / Nantua - Crest-Voland 

Stage seven: 148km / Porte-de-Savoie - Col de la Croix de Fer - Saint Sorlin

Stage eight: 153km / Le Pont-de-Claix - Bastille 

Cover photo by ASO

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