50th Dauphine Libere, Cat HC

France, June 7-14, 1998

Past Winners

June 7     Prologue - Villeurbanne - Villeurbanne, ITT 5kms.
June 8     Stage 1 - Villeurbanne - Charvieu-Chavagneux, 190 kms.
June 9     Stage 2 - Charvieu-Chavagneux - Vals-les-Bains, 198 kms.
June 10    Stage 3 - Vals-les-Bains - Mont Ventoux, 164 kms.
June 11    Stage 4 - Saint-Paul-les-Trois-Chateaux - Saint-Paul-les-Trois-Chateaux, ITT 41.2 kms.
June 12    Stage 5 - Crest - Grenoble, 160 kms.
June 13    Stage 6 - Challes-les-Eaux - Megève Cote 2000, 178 kms.
June 14    Stage 7 - Megève - Megève, 144 kms.


Having left Mont Ventoux off the agenda last year, the 50th Dauphine Libere (June 7-14) returns to the hors categorie climb again this year. As in 1996, when Richard Virenque took the sprint at the summit from Laurent Jalabert, leaving Miguel Indurain biding his time almost a minute back, the race takes the southern route up Ventoux from Bedoin finishing at the 1910m summit.

This year's Dauphine - one of the five stage races awarded hors categorie status this year - also caters fully to the time trial specialists, though, with a 5 km prologue and then a longish (41.2km) individual effort midway through the race, the day after the Ventoux climb. On the last weekend of the race there is plenty more climbing: the penultimate stage is from Challes-les-Eaux with an "altiport" summit finish at Megève Cote2000. There are six other climbs on the stage (three category 1) before this including the Cret de Chatillon (1,680m), the col de la Forclaz (1,157m), the col de la Croix (1,477m) and the col des Aravis (1,498m). The final stage is a circuit from Megève to Megève that takes in Sallanches, the scene of Bernard Hinault's 1980 world championship win.

Fifteen teams of eight riders have been invited to the 1,080,2km, seven-stage race, of which four will be seeking a performance that will improve their chances of being selected as wild cards for the Tour de France: Cofidfis, Big Mat-Auber, La Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne and Vitalicio. Riders expected to take part include ONCE's Laurent Jalabert (who preferred the Tour de Suisse last year), Telekom's Bjarne Riis and Udo Bolts (last year's winner), Festina's Richard Virenque and GAN's Chris Boardman.

Richard Virenque, Laurent Brochard, Laurent Jalabert, Bo Hamburger, Evgueni Berzine or Udo Bolts, last year's winner, will all be looking to take the GC over the next week.

After the prologue on Sunday over 5 kms on the streets of Villeurbanne, the next two days will give the sprinters the chance to show their wares.

"There is something for everyone" said the Organiser Thierry Cazeneuve. By Wednesday, the strong men will come out on the 21 km climb of Ventoux (average slope of 9 per cent) - the giant in Provence - for the stage finish on top of the summit. They will get some chance to recover with a 42 kms ITT in St Paul Trois Châteaux (Drôme).

The last 3 days will be in the mountains. On June 13, the riders have to climb 6 cols before the finish on the summit of Megève.

Charly Mottet, former world number one and three-times winner of the Dauphiné analysed the race: "It is an ensemble where the stages are very difficult. But this is the result of where it is situated on the calendar, given the World Cup (football), it is nearly a month before the start of the Tour de France on July 11. "The route permits all the riders to get a more structured preparation for the Tour. The Dauphiné though is not the last training chance before the Tour."

15 teams will be entering for the 1,063 kms race with the objective certain - to get one of the last wild cards into the Tour de France. Banesto is without Abraham Olano, the big loser in 1997 - he lost the GC in the last hour. The Spanish team will be led by their National Champion and 8th place getter in last year's Tour, José Maria Jimenez.

The current world champion Laurent Brochard will be riding. "I have been taking antibiotics since the Midi Libre and therefore I am short of form. His teammate Richard Virenque is coming into form though. Virenque has been surveying the alpine stages in the coming Tour for the last week and said: "I have to see what I am capable of in the Critérium, after a Midi-libre where I started to feel good."

Laurent Jalabert (Once), Udo Bolts (Deutsch Telecom) and will probably play the major role in the Tour. Thierry Cazeneuve is also looking at another of the favourites for big things, Evgueni Berzin. "He was looking good in Liège-Bastogne-Liège where he attacked for 80 kms alone at an average speed of 40 km/h."

The Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré follows the 8th Classique des Alpes, which is raced between Chambéry and Aix-les-Bains. Seven cols and côtes represent the first confrontation with the high mountains over 181.5 kms.

Jan Ullrich, the 1997 Tour winner - will miss the Critérium - Michael Boogerd, the Dutch Rabobank rider and the local team Casino are the favourites.

Past Winners

1947    Edouard Klabinski (Fra)
1948    Edouard Fachleitner (Fra)
1949    Lucien Lazarides (Fra)
1950    Nello Lauredi (Fra)
1951    Nello Lauredi (Fra)
1952    Jean Dotto (Fra)
1953    Lucien Teissiere (Fra)
1954    Nello Lauredi (Fra)
1955    Louison Bobet (Fra)
1956    Alex Closs (Fra)
1957    Marcel Rohrbach (Fra)
1958    Louis Rostollan (Fra)
1959    Henry Anglade (Fra)
1960    Jean Dotto (Fra)
1961    Brian Robinson (GB)
1962    Raymond Mastrotto (Fra)
1963    Jacques Anquetil (Fra)
1964    Valentin Uriona (Spa)
1965    Jacques Anquetil (Fra)
1966    Raymond Poulidor (Fra)
1969    Raymond Poulidor (Fra)
1971    Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1972    Luis Ocana (Spa)
1973    Luis Ocana (Spa)
1974    Alain Santy (Fra)
1975    Bernard Thevenet (Fra)
1976    Bernard Thevenet (Fra)
1977    Bernard Hinault (Fra)
1978    Michel Pollentier (Bel)
1979    Bernard Hinault (Fra)
1980    Johan Van de Velde (Bel)
1981    Bernard Hinault (Fra)
1982    Michel Laurent (Fra)
1983    Greg LeMond (USA)
1984    Martin Ramirez (Col)
1985    Stephen Roche (IRL)
1986    Urs Zimmermann (Swi)
1987    Charly Mottet (Fra)
1988    Luis Herrera (Col)
1989    Charly Mottet (Fra)
1990    Robert Millar (Sco)
1991    Luis Herrera (Col)
1992    Charly Mottet (Fra)
1993    Laurent Dufaux (Swi)
1994    Laurent Dufaux (Swi)
1995    Miguel Indurain (Spa)
1996    Miguel Indurain (Spa)
1997    Udo Boelts (Ger)
Past winners from Mario Stiehl, Berlin