2006 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré Quick Preview

The 58th Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré starts this weekend, on June 4, and runs through June 11.  This race, long favored by Lance Armstrong, is an important tune-up race for the Tour de France.  There is an impressive start list this year of riders seeking to succeed Armstrong as Tour champion.  And the race once again visits the mythic Mont Ventoux.

2004 winner Iban Mayo is back after skipping this race in 2005, seemingly traumatized by the media attention he got for the 2004 win, which was followed by a disappointing Tour.

Discovery Channel is sending the heart of its Tour team lead by George Hincapie and Yaroslav Popovych as the team prepares to attack its first Tour without Lance Armstrong since 1998.  Hincapie was particularly strong in the 2005 Dauphine, winning the prologue and final stage in a two-man breakaway with Popovych.

Floyd Landis and especially Levi Leipheimer have been quiet lately.  They'll be joined in the Dauphiné peloton by Alejandro Valverde, Santiago Botero, Thor Hushovd, Christophe Moreau, David Moncoutié, Oscar Sevilla, Scott Davis, Denis Menchov, Erik Dekker, Thomas Dekker, Philippe Gilbert, Stuart O'Grady, Filippo Pozzato, Alessandro Ballan, Anthony Geslin, Francisco Mancebo, Dave Zabriskie and Chris Horner, among others.  If the team formerly known as Liberty Seguros is permitted to enter this race, Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin should be on the start line.

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