The Critérium du Dauphiné, one of the most prestigious week-long stage races in the cycling calendar, is set to be a thrilling event in 2024. Known for its challenging climbs and scenic routes through the French Alps, this race serves as a crucial warm-up for the Tour de France. Key sections of the race this year include the climbs of Samoens 1600 and Le Collet d’Allevard, which should prove decisive in the general classification.

Previous winners of note include Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, and Primož Roglič, all of whom have used this race to showcase their form ahead of the Tour de France. This year, several riders stand out as potential contenders for stage wins or the general classification. This isn’t a list of the top 5 expected in GC but riders who should do something of note.

Remco Evenepoel

Remco Evenepoel has been on an impressive run in 2024 before having it derailed at the infamous crash in the Tour of the Basque Country which saw many major GC riders injured. With a previous victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and a solid performance in the Vuelta a España, Evenepoel has proven his mettle in both one-day races and grand tours. His previous outings at the Critérium du Dauphiné have seen mixed results, but his aggressive riding style and ability to excel in time trials make him a strong contender this year.

Evenepoel’s strength lies in his versatility. He can climb with the best and his time trialling skills give him an edge in stages where every second counts. Given the race’s demanding profile, which includes both high mountains and a critical time trial stage, Evenepoel’s all-around abilities position him as a favourite. Fans and analysts alike will be watching to see if he can translate his early-season form into a dominant performance at the Dauphiné.

Juan Ayuso

Juan Ayuso

Spanish rider Juan Ayuso has been making waves in 2024 with several notable performances. A standout at the Tour of the Basque Country, where he claimed a GC win, Ayuso has shown he has what it takes to compete at the highest level. His previous participation in the Critérium du Dauphiné saw him gaining valuable experience, and he’s expected to leverage that this year.

Ayuso’s climbing skills are his biggest asset. The mountainous terrain of the Dauphiné suits his capabilities perfectly. He is also a competent time trialist, which will be crucial in maintaining his position in the general classification. Ayuso’s youth and ambition make him a rider to watch, as he aims to establish himself further in the pro peloton and secure a breakthrough performance in this prestigious race.

Josh Tarling
Josh Tarling

Josh Tarling

British talent Josh Tarling is another rider to keep an eye on at this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné. Tarling has had a strong season so far, with a TT victory at O Gran Camiño and 6th at Dwars Door Vlaanderen. Although relatively new to this level of competition, his rapid progression suggests he is ready to compete with the best.

Tarling’s strengths lie in his endurance and consistency. While he may not be the flashiest rider in the peloton, his ability to maintain a steady pace on long climbs and perform reliably in time trials makes him an outsider for the general classification early on when the time trial will play a role. His performance at the Dauphiné will be a significant indicator of his potential as a future GC stage win contender, and his steady improvement could see him achieve a decent result in this race.

Ilan Van Wilder
Ilan Van Wilder
(Photo Credit: Getty)

Ilan Van Wilder

Ilan Van Wilder, another promising Belgian rider, has had an impressive season in 2024. With a top-ten finish at the Tour de Romandie and a strong performance at the UAE Tour, Van Wilder is building a reputation as a consistent and dependable competitor. His previous experiences at the Critérium du Dauphiné have helped him understand the intricacies of the race, and he is expected to put that knowledge to good use this year.

Van Wilder’s main strength is his climbing ability. The Dauphiné’s tough mountain stages are well-suited to his skills, and he has shown he can stay with the leaders on the most demanding ascents. Additionally, his improving time trial performances add another dimension to his capabilities. With a mix of endurance and climbing prowess, Van Wilder has a good chance of making an impact and possibly securing a high overall finish.

Mads Pedersen
Mads Pedersen
(Photo Credit: Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

Mads Pedersen

Mads Pedersen, the Danish rider known for his versatility, has had a notable 2024 season. With wins in both the Classics and stage races, Pedersen has demonstrated his ability to compete across various types of terrain. His previous participations in the Critérium du Dauphiné have been solid, though not spectacular, but this year he comes in with strong form and high expectations.

Pedersen’s biggest asset is his sprinting power combined with his resilience in the mountains. While he is primarily known as a sprinter, his ability to endure medium mountain stages makes him a potential stage winner across a few stages in the Dauphiné. Additionally, his time trial skills can help him gain valuable seconds against his rivals. Pedersen’s well-rounded abilities make him a threat in various scenarios, and his aim will be to secure stage wins and a respectable overall position.

The 2024 Critérium du Dauphiné promises to be an exciting race, with these riders among the top contenders. Their performances will not only shape the outcome of this race but also provide a preview of what to expect in the upcoming Tour de France.