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Suisse vs Dauphine... By the Numbers!

Cycling's most intense startlist border war gets a definitive evaluation. By me. A fish lawyer who majored in English lit.

Kristof Van Accom/Getty Images

A lot of our world is defined by our rivalries. Good versus evil. Matter versus anti-matter. Bugs versus windshields. Cats versus dogs. Mice versus cats. Cats versus people who don't like cats. Who or what among any of these entities would exist without its opposite? The opposing force is what keeps the ... force being opposed going strong.

It's like that in cycling. in June. Yes, it's time to revisit the hottest border conflict the sporting world has right now... the Tour de Suisse startlist versus the Critérium du Dauphiné startlist. Nobody will rest until it's settled once and for all who is the preeminent pathway to the Paris Podium. Let's break it down!

For starters, I've taken podium placings from the last decade, on the theory that we're all really content with the results of the last ten years. We definitely are less content with what came before, as far as this little inquiry is concerned. Also, I used the results as riders crossed the line, without regard for what unplanned vacations came later. Close enough.

How Do Dauphiné Podium Placings Correlate to Tour de France Performances?

Not horribly. Out of the 30 riders on the CdD podium since 2005, seven went on to place on the podium of the Tour de France that same year. Five of those seven riders won the Tour. Fully half -- five of ten -- of the Dauphine winners turned around and won the Tour. As powerful as that statistic is, it also means that the other twenty Tour podium placings were occupied by a mere two Dauphiné podium finishers, a 10% hit rate. Nobody cares. Half!

As far as other placings at the Tour, three of the thirty Dauphiné podium placers did not start the Tour the following month, and another five failed to finish. Thanks to a couple warped numbers from 2005, the average Dauphiné podium placer's Tour performance was 16th. Without the help of Santi Botero and Inigo Landaluze, that figure would be more like 11th.

How do Tour de Suisse Podium Placings Correlate to Tour de France Performances?

Shockingly poorly. Like, this isn't really even a debate anymore. Like matter vs anti-matter, the battle of the Dauphiné versus the TdS as a Tour warmup is over.

Only one Tour de Suisse podium finisher placed on the podium of the Tour -- Jan Ullrich, in 2005, a result which has since been erased from the history books. So if you want to roll with official results, it's a big fat zero. The average TdF placement for a TdS podium finisher is 23rd. Eight of the thirty didn't take the start at the subsequent Tour de France. Four more crashed out of the Tour (Frank Schleck, Frank Schleck, Rui Costa and Frank Schleck).

Which Race do Tour de France Podium Finishers Come From?

The cat's out of the bag, but the numbers are still interesting enough. Twenty of the thirty TdF podium placings were occupied by riders who had completed the Dauphiné... including all ten winners. It's been a decade since the next maillot jaune could be found in Switzerland, even hiding in the pack somewhere. Four of the thirty -- most recently Nairo Quintana -- bade their time in June by doing neither race. That leaves a mere six riders in ten years who placed on the podium of the Tour after having come off the TdS -- four Schlecks and Thibaut Pinot last year. Grim numbers.

Interestingly, the Tour winner has been fairly easy to spot at the Dauphiné. Subtracting Floyd Landis (60th at the 2006 Dauphiné) and Carlos Sastre (20th at the '08 CdD), and your Tour winner has come from the top eight on Dauphiné GC. Of the Tour riders finishing second overall, they averaged 11th at the Critérium (if they were there). The rest of the TdS results are the Schleck brothers.


I suppose it remains more likely than not that a Podium finisher comes from the middle of the GC pack. Guys who may not be though of as Tour de France winners nonetheless are the ones mustering an important challenge to the top. And with Pinot's example of last year, you may still be surprised by a Tour de Suisse athlete. Nowadays we know all the Tour favorites pretty well, and when they are off at one of these race, we also tend to view them as holding back. By being an extra week closer to the Grand Départ, top riders in the Tour de Suisse may not want to dig super-deep. That's the challenge facing this year's crop, highlighted by such Tour fixtures as Robert Gesink and Sergio Henao. [And Simon Clark, and Tom Danielson...] Pinot is back again this year, lending some credence to the theory that some riders just iike Switzerland more.

Alright, the hands-down winner, by knockout, is the Dauphiné. Not sure how long this lasts, but I suspect it has a pretty good shelf life left.