Tough Dauphiné in prospect for Tour hopefuls

June's Dauphiné Libéré looks certain to attract some of the major Tour de France contenders after th

June's Dauphiné Libéré looks certain to attract some of the major Tour de France contenders after th

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The organisers of the Dauphin Libr have announced an extremely tough week of racing for what is generally seen as a mini-Tour de France. The eight-day event (June 4-11) features a number of the climbs from July's Tour, as well as a 42km time trial and a summit finish on Mont Ventoux.

The race starts with a flat 4km prologue in Annecy on the first Sunday, and continues with two stages that will suit the sprinters. They are unlikely to be in evidence on stage three, a 42km time trial at Bourg de Page, nor on stage four, which finishes on Mont Ventoux, which is climbed from the Bedoin road.

The Ventoux finish begins a series of tricky days in the mountains which will give what is certain to be a strong field a good insight into the Tour's Alpine stages. Friday takes the race to Briancon via the Izoard, while Saturday provides a chance to experience the Mollard and Toussuire climbs that are appearing at the Tour for the first time this year. They are preceded by the Galibier (via the Lauteret) and the Croix de Fer. Sunday's final stage at Grenoble is constantly up and down.

The French Agritubel team have been invited to race alongside the 20 ProTour teams. Among the major names currently set to ride are Floyd Landis (Phonak), George Hincapie (Discovery Channel), Andreas Klden (T-Mobile), Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), Francisco Mancebo (Ag2r), Denis Menchov and Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Alexandre Vinokourov (Liberty Seguros) and defending champion I¤igo Landaluze (Euskaltel).

Stages:

Prologue, June 4: Annecy, 4.1km
Stage 1, June 5: Annecy-Bourgoin Jallieu, 207km
Stage 2, June 6: Bourgoin Jallieu-Saint Galmier, 203km
Stage 3, June 7: Bourg de Page time trial, 42km
Stage 4, June 8: Tain L'Hermitage-Mont Ventoux, 186km
Stage 5, June 9: Sisteron-Briancon, 155km
Stage 6, June 10: Briancon-La Toussuire, 169km
Stage 7, June 11: Saint Jean de Maurienne-Grenoble, 131km

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