• Critérium du Dauphiné. (Getty)Source: Getty
If history speaks for itself, when it comes to the role that the Critérium du Dauphiné plays for future Tour de France winners, the June race has cemented itself as the launch pad towards the maillot jaune.
Jane Aubrey

Cycling Central
6 Jun 2019 - 10:44 AM 

Like the Tour de France, when the Dauphiné was first raced back in 1947, it was a way of promoting the circulation of a newspaper, the provincial Dauphiné Libéré; also the primary sponsor of the race until the ASO fully took the reigns in 2010.

The inaugural winner, Pole Edouard Klabinski, did not continue his winning ways when it came to the 1947 Tour de France however, finishing 34th overall, as La Grande Boucle returned following its WWII hiatus.

So, how much of a sure thing is a success at the Tour de France following victory at the Dauphiné?

If you are inclined to gamble, frankly, up until recently, you would want better odds. In 70 editions of the race, on 14* occasions has the winner gone on to stand on top of the podium in Paris a month later.

While prolific when it came to the Tour de France with five wins each, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain claimed overall victory at the Dauphiné and then at the big show that followed, just once, in 1963, 1971 and 1995 respectively.

For Anquetil, 1963 was a standout season as his great rival Raymond Poulidor began knocking on the door. Anquetil would win Paris-Nice, then the Critérium National, and the Dauphiné before becoming the first man to claim victory at the Tour de France and then the Vuelta a España having been cruelled in 1962. Further wins at the Ronde d'Auvergne and the Critérium des As would round out the season.

In 1971, Merckx was close to unstoppable, the Belgian claiming his first world champion's title, a third-straight Tour de France, plus Milan-San Remo, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Paris-Nice, and Lombardia to name but a few.

For Indurain, 1995 was the last of his five consecutive wins at the Tour. The Spaniard would claim a second Dauphiné a year later only for a voracious Bjarne Riis to steal the spotlight in what was one of the most dramatic Tours de France in history.

Bernard Hinault, the other great with five Tours de France on his palmares, stands alone with two victories at the Dauphiné, in 1979 and 1981. And a guy from Texas also found success at the Dauphiné twice before the three-week battle, but his name has been struck from the records.

Over the last decade, the odds of a win at the Dauphiné leading to success at the Tour, have improved dramatically. Brad Wiggins began two straight wins for Team Sky in 2012, rounded out by Chris Froome. Andrew Talansky's victory at the Dauphiné 2014 shocked Alberto Contador and Froome, but it was a seventh-placed and largely invisible Vincenzo Nibali who would go on to win in Paris, while the defending champion would abandon after a torrid time with crashes and injury.

Froome got back on track in 2015, and again in 2016. In that year, remarkably, Romain Bardet would finish runner-up in both races.

When Jakob Fuglsang claimed victory at the Dauphiné in 2017 in a final-stage thriller, the Dane was seen by many as being on the verge of fulfilling his grand tour potential, free to ride out of the shadows of his Astana teammates Nibali and Fabio Aru. However, once again, a Dauphiné win proved a curse as a crash forced Fuglsang to head home before the Tour entered its final week.

In 2018, Geraint Thomas's win at the Dauphiné was for a short while, the biggest of his career until a near faultless Tour de France changed all that.

As of Thursday, of the Tour de France contenders, only Tom Dumoulin is absent with the Sunweb team leader recovering from knee issues following a crash at the Giro d'Italia.

The ASO has taken a fresh approach to the parcours this year, and the 71st edition of the Dauphiné won't follow the same path as the peloton in July. On paper, it's a race set up to play into the hands of Froome and Team INEOS but regardless of who wins, only three weeks in July will reveal the role this Dauphiné will play in the writing of the history books.

* Includes Armstrong.

Criterium du Dauphine clash: can Porte exact revenge?
Richie Porte said he would not forget the ruthlessness of Team Sky's tactics on the final stage of the 2017 Criterium du Dauphine in a hurry. Can he overcome the Froome-led Ineos juggernaut this year and also the likes of Nairo Quintana, Romain Bardet, and the rider who beat him to overall victory in 2017 Jakob Fuglsang?