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Will the Tour de Suisse and Route d'Occitanie provide a glimpse of the Tour de France to come?

With many riders missing the Critérium du Dauphiné you’ll have to look elsewhere to gauge the form of the big Tour contenders

Joseph Delves
8 Jun 2018

Traditionally the Critérium du Dauphiné provided a condensed version of the later Tour de France. Taking place in France, a month before the bigger event, this eight-day stage-race features a prologue, mountaintop finishes, and both individual and team time-trials.

The leader even wears yellow. The standard warm-up for the Tour it’s seen many battles foreshadowed in miniature, with Chris Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins both having repeatedly used wins in the race as a springboard to go on and clinch the Tour.

Except that this year many riders have chosen to skip the race. Partly the week of extra rest between the Giro and Tour has thrown things out of whack.

Also, the fact that both Tom Dumoulin and Froome are on reduced schedules while attempting to recover from the Grand Tour has further shaken things up.

Either way, by solely watching the Dauphiné you won’t have seen all the favourites play their first cards yet.

Next week sees the nine-day Tour de Suisse and shorter four day Route d'Occitanie, formerly the Route du Sud. Between them, they’ll see almost all the big names breaking cover.

Quick Guide: Tour de Suisse

What to expect

All the teams that haven’t sent a full-strength squad to the Dauphiné will be going hard. BMC Racing will be bringing what’s likely to be its Tour line-up in support of Richie Porte.

Tejay van Garderen, Greg Van Avermaet, Alessandro De Marchi, Stefan Kung, Simon Gerrans and Michael Schär all get call-ups.

Movistar had intended to bring its trio of leaders, but with illness leaving Alejandro Valverde sidelined they’ll have to settle for just bringing Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa. Astana look set to be led by Jakob Fuglsang.

Of the Classics type-riders and sprinters, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) will be the big draw, yet he’ll have company in the form of Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors), André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Emirates).

Tour de Suisse: Key information

Where: Switzerland
When: Saturday 9th to Sunday 17th June
Stages: Nine
Queen Stage: Stage 7 - Friday, 15th, Eschenbach/Atzmännig - Arosa 171km and 2,923 m
Riders to watch: Nairo Quintana & Mikel Landa (Movistar), Richie Porte & Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors)
Previous winner: Simon Spilak (Katusha-Alpecin)
Favourite: Richie Porte (BMC)

Quick Guide: Route d'Occitanie

What to expect

With only a few riders announced so far the big attraction will be seeing how Team Sky’s new wunderkind Egan Bernal gets on.

He’ll have competition from evergreen old boy Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who’s on a reduced schedule after a slight illness.

Where: Southern France
When: Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th June
Stages: Four
Queen Stage: Stage 3, Saturday 16th Prat-Bonrepaux-Les Monts d'Olmes, 98.4 km, 4393 m
Riders to watch: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) Egan Bernal (Team Sky)
Previous winner: Silvan Dillier (Ag2r)
Favourite: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

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