• Romain Bardet - pictured here at the 2017 Flèche Wallonne. (Getty)Source: Getty
2016 Tour de France runner-up Romain Bardet (AG2R) can't wait to get back to racing at the Critérium du Dauphiné this weekend. But it will be minus a key lieutenant from last year's Tour team. Watch the race LIVE on SBS Viceland and online, kicking off with stage 1, Sunday 4 June at 9.45pm AEST.
Cycling Central

AG2R La Mondiale
30 May 2017 - 2:45 PM  UPDATED 30 May 2017 - 2:54 PM

Critérium du Dauphiné to hit SBS screens
The Critérium du Dauphiné will be shown on SBS from 4 - 11 June. The eight stage race is the traditional warm-up for the Tour de France and is often where the riders that are in contention to win the yellow jersey in July show their true form.

The Frenchman hasn't raced since the Ardennes week where he finished 13th at Flèche Wallone and sixth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April, and can't wait to get back to racing. 

"The Critérium du Dauphiné is an important race, the last big meeting before the Tour de France," the 26-year-old said. 

"Last year it was a great experience taking second place behind Chris Froome in the overall classification after a tense final.

"But it was also tinged with regrets on that penultimate stage, where just a few more seconds in that breakaway could have resulted in a more striking performance."

"As with every year, the level of riders at the race will be very high, and the 2017 route is demanding. Every day will be strategic and it will be important not to miss the moves."

Bardet and his key sherpas have just completed a two-week training camp in Sierra Nevada, Spain where he clocked 1,300 kilometres and 27,000 metres of climbing. 

"This camp came at an important part of the season, both in terms of the quality of the work that we did and the good atmosphere that prevailed throughout the group of riders," he said. 

"This week will be an ideal time to confirm the team’s increase in power and performance ahead of the Tour de France, and achieve significant results."

But the training camp also came at a price. Bardet's key lieutenant from his 2016 line-up, Mikaël Chérel, crashed during a ride, suffering a hairline fracture of the pelvis.

While Bardet says he wants Chérel back soon, the team doctor says his return time depends on his recovery and as a result, his Tour could be in doubt. Julien Duval will replace Chérel at Dauphiné. 

The Frenchman has performed steadily during the early part of the season with several top 15 finishes, and despite his disqualification from the 2017 Paris Nice for getting a tow from his team car after a crash on stage 1.

Bardet punted from Paris-Nice as Demare takes opener
Pre-race favourite Romain Bardet has been disqualified from the Paris-Nice after being towed by his team car following a crash on the opening stage.

Ag2R at Critérium du Dauphiné: Romain Bardet, Axel Domont, Samuel Dumoulin, Julien Duval, Cyril Gautier, Pierre Latour, Oliver Naesen, Alexis Vuillermoz.