22 jaw-dropping images from the Criterium du Dauphine to whet your appetite for the Tour de France - Road Cycling UK

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22 jaw-dropping images from the Criterium du Dauphine to whet your appetite for the Tour de France

Stunning photos that prove cycling is simply the world's most beautiful sport

With the Tour de France just over two weeks away, if you needed a little something to whet your appetite for the world’s biggest bike race, then look no further.

These jaw-dropping images tell the story of the Tour’s traditional warm-up race, the Criterium du Dauphine, won this year by Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang after a dramatic week of racing in the Alps.

Denmark’s Jakob Fuglsang won the 2017 Criterium du Dauphine after a dramatic week of racing in the Alps (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)

The yellow jersey changed hands three times during the race, with Thomas De Gendt (LottoNL-Jumbo) leading until stage five, before Richie Porte (BMC Racing) made his move on the title. It was to be Fuglsang who took the honours, however, with the Dane striking on the final stage to top the podium.

The Dauphine may be a prestigious race in its own right but it’s also an important test of form before the Tour, not least before it takes place in and around the Alps. Fast forward a month and we’ll see the Tour de France being decided on the same roads.

It’s time for Tour fever to begin and, if nothing else, these photos prove why cycling is simply the most beautiful sport in the world.

The Criterium du Dauphine is the traditional form-finder ahead of the Tour de France, taking place in and around the Alps, and often using similar roads and climbs to the upcoming edition of the Tour (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
Stage one of the Dauphine took the peloton on a loop from Saint-Étienne, with France in full bloom (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
The peloton covered 1,155km over the course of eight stages (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
Breakaway specialist Thomas De Gendt won the opening stage from the break to earn the first yellow jersey, which the Belgian held until stage five (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
Stage three from Chambon-sur-Lignon to Tullins took the race into the foothills of the Alps (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
Two onlookers watch Phil Bauhaus of Team Sunweb stage four's 23.5km individual time trial (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
The Dauphine was a family affair for Trek-Segafredo's Fumiyuki Beppu for the sign-on of stage six (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
The peloton rides through the French countryside on stage six, the first of three days in the mountains to conclude the 69th edition of the Dauphine (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
Stage six covered a 147.5km route from Villars-les-Dombes to La Motte-Servolex (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
Mont du Chat will make its first appearance in the Tour de France in July and the Dauphine offered the opportunity to recce the climb. With an average gradient of 10.3% over 8.7km, it's one of the toughest climbs in France (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
Stage six concluded in a dramatic four-way sprint between Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Chris Froome (Team Sky), Richie Porte (BMC Racing) and Fabio Aru (Astana), with Fuglsang winning on the day and Porte taking over the yellow jersey (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
Former team-mates Richie Porte (BMC Racing) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) are good friends off the bike but fierce rivals on it. Here they roll up to the start of stage seven, all smiles before the day's hostilities begin (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
The breakaway climbs the Côte de Berland, a 1.2 kilometre-long climb at 8.1%, on stage six (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
BMC launched the new Teammachine SLR01 at the start of June and Richie Porte was riding the bike at the Dauphine (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
The sheer beauty and drama of cycling in one image. Stage seven saw the peloton take a novel route to Alpe d'Huez, swapping the 21 hairpins for the ascent of the Col de Sarenne (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
Pete Kennaugh (Team Sky) and Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates) duke it out on the approach to Alpe d'Huez having been part of the stage seven break (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
Kennaugh dropped his compatriot in the stages to take the stage but, with the two Brits long-time friends, it was all smiles at the end of the day (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
The final stage covered just 115km from Albertville to Plateau de Solaison. Here the peloton descends the first climb of the day, the Col des Saisies (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
The breakaway climbs the category two Col des Aravis (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
Chris Froome (Team Sky) started the day second overall put in an attacking display in an attempt to claim the yellow jersey but eventually faded to finish fourth overall (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)
Instead the spoils went to Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), who attacked on the final climb to not only win the stage, but also claim the Criterium du Dauphine title (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)

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