Both Julian Alaphilippe and Philippe Gilbert are set to return to racing at the Critérium du Dauphiné, starting this week. It will be the first race for both Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders since Liège-Bastogne-Liège in late April.
Running between 9-16 June, the 71st edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné starts with two hilly stages, with two stages suited to the sprinters, finishing in Riom and Voroin. In between, a 26.1-kilometre individual time trial held over an undulating parcours will reshuffle the general classification, with the leg to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne acting as a warm-up for the weekend’s big showdown, which features Montée de Pipay (19km, 6.9%) and the Côte des Rives (8.5km, 6.2%) – Montée de Champéry (5.5km, 4.2%) combination.
UCI World Individual Classification leader Alaphilippe will restart his so far incredible season at his home race following a break he took after a spectacular spring campaign which counted nine successes, including Milano-Sanremo, Strade Bianche and Flèche Wallonne. A stage victor at last year’s edition, Alaphilippe will be joined on the start line by another Monument and Dauphiné stage winner, Philippe Gilbert, who is making his sixth appearance at the race.
Also on Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s seven-man team will be Tour of California stage winner Rémi Cavagna, Belgian Tim Declercq, Colombian sprinter Alvaro Hodeg – who last week took a stage victory at the Tour of Norway – Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and E3 Harelbeke champion Zdenek Stybar and countryman Petr Vakoc, who is debuting at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
“Dauphiné is more than just a test for the Tour de France, it’s a great and spectacular race in its own right, which this season continues the trend of the past years, putting on the table a hard course favouring the climbers,” explained Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Brian Holm.
“We go there with a balanced squad headlined by our two Monument winners – Julian and Philippe – who have recently completed an altitude training camp, but the depth of the team gives us the possibility to fight for a good result also with other riders. The summer starts here and the Wolfpack are prepared to leave their mark over as many races as possible.”