Tour de France hopefuls Alberto Contador and Chris Froome will be the two star names at the Grand Boucle’s main warm-up event the Criterium de Dauphine in June, organizers said on Monday. The week-long event is often seen as a good marker for Tour form and Briton Bradley Wiggins won last year before going on to triumph in cycling’s biggest race.
The June 2-9 course will tackle the epic Alpe d’Huez on its penultimate stage. That stage will be seen as a particularly important gauge of form as the famous climb will feature twice during the Tour de France in July. Contador, returning to the Tour for the first time since serving a ban for a doping violation, and Froome, who took second behind Wiggins at the 2012 Tour de France, are seen as the contenders because of the hilly itinerary. The Spaniard won the Tour in 2007 and 2009 but was stripped of his 2010 win. Both have been in good form this year, with Froome winning the Tours of Oman and Corsica and coming second to Vincenzo Nibali at the Tirreno-Adriatico. Contador finished a place behind Froome in both Oman and the Tirreno.