©A.S.O. /Alex Broadway

The 72nd edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné has already earned its place in the history books. The race presents a new five-stage format with no time trials, in addition to an unprecedented starting point in the capital of the Massif Central. Indeed, the opening day will serve as a dress rehearsal for the city of Clermont-Ferrand, before riders gather there again for the 14th stage of the Tour de France in September. Stage 1 will offer the competitors precious little opportunity to find their legs: covering a total of 218.5 km and culminating in a final circuit around Saint-Christo-en-Jarez, the route throws up constant changes in pace and gradient – riders beware, your refuelling strategy may be crucial!

Having been partially redesigned in order to ensure the race’s integration into the revised international calendar, the 2020 route will mark a break with tradition. Gone is the sprint finish in Bourg-de-Péage, with the riders embarking from the second day on a quartet of alpine stages that are guaranteed to push the peloton to its limit. The racing on Thursday and Friday will follow a dense and cadenced itinerary featuring a succession of technical descents, including the Côte Maillet, as well as the first cols. Notable among the latter will be a new route up to the Col de la Madeleine, a climb also featuring in the Tour de France for the first time on the 17th stage of this year’s race.

The real showdown in the mountains is reserved for the weekend, however, with 4,700 metres of elevation gain to tackle on Saturday alone. In order to prevail, stage contenders will need to keep enough energy in the tank for one final flight up to the altiport of Megève. Sunday’s grand finale, also in Megève, will unfold on a loop punctuated with four major tests: the Côte de Domancy, the Col de Romme, the Col de la Colombière and lastly, in the shadow of Mont Blanc, the gruelling Côte de Cordon. The stage is set for an alpine extravaganza, played out against the backdrop of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France, which will be just over the horizon on 29th August in Nice.

Route of the Critérium du Dauphiné 2020:
Wednesday 12 August – 1st stage – Clermont-Ferrand (63) > Saint-Christo-en-Jarez (42) – 218.5 km
Thursday 13 August – 2nd stage – Vienne (38) > Col de Porte (38) – 135 km
Friday 14 August – 3rd stage – Corenc (38) > Saint-Martin-de-Belleville (73) – 157 km
Saturday 15 August – 4th stage – Ugine (73) > Megève (74) – 157 km
Sunday 16 August – 5th stage – Megève (74) > Megève (74) – 153.5 km