Difficult to look past Froome in Tour de France rehearsal
But Gerrans is the bet for stage one
Eurosport 2, 12.30pm
The Criterium du Dauphine has traditionally been the warm-up of choice for Tour de France contenders and this year’s race is no different.
A stellar cast of yellow jersey aspirants will take to the start line in St-Etienne – barring the protagonists from last month’s Giro d’Italia – in the hope of advertising their credentials with cycling’s most revered race only four weeks away.
As in the Tour, Chris Froome has been the dominant force in the Dauphine lately, claiming the overall classification in three of the last four years.
Unsurprisingly he is short odds to make that four this week. A season-best finish of only sixth at January’s Herald Sun Tour would be a worry for anyone taking the 8-11 on offer, but Froome so often trains to peak at this time of year that on all known evidence he is the likeliest victor.
Especially given there are question marks surrounding his rivals.
Romain Bardet and Esteban Chaves have not raced as much as they would have liked while Alberto Contador must prove he still retains his ability as he enters the twilight of his career.
Richie Porte and Alejandro Valverde are perhaps greater pretenders to Froome’s title.
Valverde has had fruitful spring with wins at all three stage races he has contested plus one-day victories at La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Porte has also had a productive start to the season but worryingly for the Australian’s fans, he usually comes out second best when pitted against former teammate Froome.
With it difficult to look past the Brit, stage betting could prove a more fruitful endeavour.
The race begins with a 170km classics-style stage around St-Etienne with Sonny Colbrelli chalked up as 6-1 favourite.
He should appreciate the punchy terrain but so too will two-time Monument winner Simon Gerrans who warmed up for the race with four top-four finishes in the five-stage Tour of Norway. At 18-1 he represents fair each-way value.
S Gerrans to win stage one
1pt each-way 18-1 Betway