PREVIEW | Critérium du Dauphiné 2023 stage 1 - Breakaway, sprinters and late attacks all possible outcomes for explosive opening day

Preview. Stage 1 of the Criterium du Dauphiné will be a hilly one, a very open day that can see many different riders fight for victory, an explosive affair.

The opening stage of the French race will be a hilly day, very open where several types of riders can succeed. It's a short and explosive stage taking place at high altitude. There will be 2700 meters of climbing in a day that isn't exactly suited to any particular type of rider, and is very open. Breakaway win, late attacks or a reduced group sprint are all very possible scenarios.

Estimated start and finish times for Criterium du Dauphiné stage 1: 13:10-16:45CET

Stage 1: Chambon-sur-Lac - Chambon-sur-Lac, 158.5 kilometers
Stage 1: Chambon-sur-Lac - Chambon-sur-Lac, 158.5 kilometers

The stage has a relatively flat start, but the entire day - taking place in the Massif Central - has a "rompe-piernas" feel to it (if it were taking place in Spain). The riders never find truly pan-flat roads, it constantly either tilts up or down a bit, this will certainly weigh on the legs of the sprinters, and making breakaway chase a little harder.

The riders will take on three laps of the final circuit into Chambon-sur-Lac. It's main feature is the ascent of the Côte du Rocher de l'Aigle which featues around 4.5 kilometers at 5%. The climb doesn't end there as it then has rolling roads all the way into the summit which is located only 11.5 kilometers from the finish.

A fast descent follows which leads the riders into the final 3 kilometers, which will be flat but short for those who want to chase into a sprint in town.

Côte du Rocher de l'Aigle: 10.6Km; 2.8%; 11.5Km to go
Côte du Rocher de l'Aigle: 10.6Km; 2.8%; 11.5Km to go
Stage 1 Finale
Stage 1 Finale

The Weather

Map Criterium du Dauphiné 2023 stage 1
Map Criterium du Dauphiné 2023 stage 1

The wind won't be present but the rain will most likely. We're in June but the peloton continues to have problems with the weather, it will be a more tense days, where attacks are more likely to succeed, and where crashes involving big riders are unfortunately more likely.

The Favourites

It is a very open day, with no doubt. It could come down to a sprint however. Jumbo, INEOS and Bahrain have reasons to try and keep the race together, they all have GC aspirations so it's unlikely they'll take big risks here, and they have firepower to control it. Why? The presence of Christophe Laporte, Fred Wright and Ethan Hayter respectively. It's quite a strong trio which can climb very well and then sprint at the end of the day.

How many fast men reach the finish line depends on how the race is taken. In case the pace is not so hard the likes of Ethan Vernon and Hugo Page could be interesting cards here, whilst if the pace is harder others could benefit such as Greg van Avermaet, Matteo Trentin and Axel Zingle.

But riders who can benefit from a different outcome other than a sprint will be aplenty. It's difficult terrain to control the race. The rain will help, breakaways won't be easy to chase, and the finale is definitely well suited to attacks. Since it is the first day of the race there won't be a specific team trying to control things, and a yellow jersey is on offer which will further motivate moves.

Some riders will certainly not be allowed out front but could succeed from late attacks such as Julian Alaphilippe, Valentin Madouas or Matteo Jorgenson. The GC riders could come in too, but that's more unlikely. Some have a fast finish and could benefit from a finale for the puncheurs or small group such as Andrea Bagioli, Felix Grossschartner or Andrea Piccolo.

Others could do well both from late attack or breakaway. Ben Turner, Nils Politt, Rémi Cavagna, Sean Quinn, Rune Herregodts, Georg Zimmermann, Mikkel Bjerg, Benjamin Thomas, Victor Campenaerts, Maxim van Gils, Mathieu Burgaudeau, Oscar Onley and Nicola Conci will all be outsiders.

Prediction Criterium du Dauphiné 2023 stage 1:

*** Christophe Laporte, Ethan Hayter
** Fred Wright, Axel Zingle, Rémi Cavagna, Julian Alaphilippe
* Ethan Vernon, Axel Zingle, Matteo Trentin, Andrea Bagioli, Rune Herregodts, Mateo Jorgenson, Valentin Madouas

Pick: Christophe Laporte

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