Key facts:

The 69th edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné (June 4–11) will bring many of the Tour de France favourites head-to-head, pitting them against the fearsome Mont du Chat for the first time in competitive racing.

The heart of the mountain trilogy which will separate the wheat from the chaff takes the Dauphiné to the Alpe d'Huez for the second time in history… with a brand-new finish.

It all begins in Saint-Étienne. Aside from its passion for football, the city is one of the French capitals of cycling, having hosted the Tour de France 25 times, Paris–Nice 59 times and the Critérium du Dauphiné 24 times. The fireworks start on 4th June with a frenetic stage with three laps of a tough final circuit featuring the Rochetaillée climb. Sprinters may struggle here, but they will get the chance to make amends in the next two stages (Arlanc and Tullins) before leaving the stage to the power riders in the time trial around Bourgoin-Jallieu.

The favourites will rise to the top after the 23.5 km solitary effort, but they will also need to call upon their climbing (and descending) skills throughout the three closing stages. Right before the finish on La Motte-Servolex, riders itching for a fight will go on the attack on Mont du Chat, a climb almost 9 km long with an average gradient exceeding 10%. Riders should learn from this experience because the climb will also feature in stage 9 of the Tour de France from Nantua to Chambéry. The next day will also bring a scent of the Tour to the Dauphiné, with a stage finish on the Alpe d'Huez after a wholly new approach. Riders will take a detour via Col de Sarenne before tackling the final four kilometres of the legendary climb! The leader at the ski resort in Isère will not be home and dry yet, with the closing 115 km forcing riders to dig deep to defend their positions: it will be all up and down, starting with Col des Saisies, followed by Les Aravis and La Colombière, before the final 11.3 km ascent to Plateau de Solaison (average gradient of 9.2%). Pretenders to the crown of the Tour de France will have to show their mettle here.

Stages :

Sunday, 4 June — Stage 1: Saint-Étienne > Saint-Étienne (170 km)

Monday, 5 June — Stage 2: Saint-Chamond > Arlanc (171 km)

Tuesday, 6 June — Stage 3: Le Chambon-sur-Lignon > Tullins (184 km)

Wednesday, 7 June — Stage 4: La Tour-du-Pin > Bourgoin-Jallieu (23.5 ITT)

Thursday, 8 June — Stage 5: La Tour-de-Salvagny > Mâcon (175 km)

Friday, 9 June — Stage 6: Parc des Oiseaux Villars-les-Dombes > La Motte-Servolex (145.5 km)

Saturday, 10 June — Stage 7: Aosta > Alpe d'Huez (167.5 km)

Sunday, 11 June — Stage 8: Albertville > Plateau de Solaison (115 km)

Credits A.S.O.