Pro Team Astana will be in the south-west of France from Sunday 3rd to Sunday 10th June for the 64th Critérium du Dauphiné – the race usually seen as the dress rehearsal for the Tour de France. This year's Dauphiné features a time trial prologue in Grenoble followed by seven stages, with highlights including Thursday’s 53.5 km individual time trial and two Alpine stages to Morzine and Châtel over the weekend.
Pro Team Astana and its riders have enjoyed huge success over the roads of the Dauphiné in the past. Vinokourov boasts an overall win in 1999 and a third-place finish last year, while Jani Brajkovic won in 2010 and Andrey Kashechkin came third overall in 2007.
“The Dauphiné has always been a very tough competition,” said Astana DS Guido Bontempi. “Indeed it has two mountain stages with routes that are very similar to those of the next Tour de France, as well as a 50 km-plus time trial – just like the penultimate stage of La Grande Boucle.”
“Many of our riders are returning to the group after a long break from racing and they are here in preparation for the Tour, so that we can assess their condition and make any final changes to their training,” Bontempi continued.
“Going into further detail, I think that Brajkovic could have a major role in Saturday and Sunday’s stages, when we will be facing two high-mountain days. The long individual time trial, meanwhile, will be a test for Vinokourov, after which we will have a clear idea about his form in terms of the Tour de France.”
Bontempi will be joined by fellow DS Gorazd Stangelj for the Dauphiné, and they will have the following riders at their disposal: Alexandr Vinokourov, Jani Brajkovic, Borut Bozic, Dmitry Fofonov, Andriy Grivko, Maxim Iglinskiy, Andrey Kashechkin and Egor Silin.