Dauphiné Stage 7 Preview

Saturday, 13 June 2015

After yesterday’s tough stage in the rain now comes an Alpine festival with a difficult summit finish. There will be some sore legs after yesterday’s warfare and the likes of Chris Froome and Tejay van Garderen will want to test Vincenzo Nibali’s grip on the yellow jersey.

Vincenzo Nibali

Stage 6 Wrap: it was supposed to be a transition stage. These early climbs have featured before in the Tour de France and often been a battleground as riders fight to go clear, usually desperate riders and teams trying to salvage a late stage win. This time all the big names were in the mix with a series of attacks and counter-moves from the big names and all during a downpour that lasted for hours. It’s another exhibit for the case that medium mountain stages can provide better entertainment than high mountains where W/kg ratios trump surprise attacks.

After a maxi-breakaway packed with big names was reeled in by Team Sky Tony Martin and Vincenzo Nibali tried their luck, the Tour champion going solo for 20km. He was caught but tried again with Rui Costa, Tony Gallopin, Tony Martin and Alejandro Valverde. Behind it was too generous to talk of bunch, the group with Tejay van Garderen and Chris Froome and the other GC riders was a huddle of survivors. They chased but didn’t have the firepower to reel in the break and at one point Tinkoff-Saxo were roped into chase, presumably they weren’t defending Robert Kišerlovski’s 24th place overall but helping out BMC or maybe just chasing Vincenzo Nibali in their Astana rivalry.

Nibali had looked the strongest all day and attacked on the final climb but Rui Costa played it cool, rode across and ditched the Italian to win the stage. It was one of those days where the stage result was almost incidental. Rui Costa won but the race was turned upside down with Nibali assuming the race lead and the GC candidates coming in almost one by one.

The Route: 155km at 4,000m of vertical gain. The early flat section isn’t quite as flat as it looks as it rides through vineyards towards Albertville and the first climb of the day, the Col de Tamié. Just 900m high and a good way to start the climbing. The Col de la Forclaz next is a very irregular climb with a steep start, a steep middle section and a steep finish, all with some softer sections along the way and a downhill section before the summit. There’s a safe descent and then some main road riding to the next climb.

The Col de la Croix Fry is a quintessential Alpine climb with its meadows, chalets and some steep ramps. After a short descent there’s the Col des Aravis and then a long regular ride to Megève and Sallanches, the town where Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault won the worlds.

The Finish: the Côte des Amerands is the start of the final climb but a vertical shortcut rather than the main road. It’s tricky with 2.7km at 11.7% average but with a soft start and some flat sections meaning the rest of it is 14-15% in places and to make things worse it’s on a small and very rough road, a patchwork quilt with its mix of potholes and temporary repairs. As such this makes the climb to Le Bettex selective from the go before the main road to the ski resort begins. Then it’s 7km at 7.7%.

The Contenders:a difficult call because it’ll be hard to judge how riders feel after yesterday’s carnage. Racing in the rain and the effort of such a wild stage will have left its mark on many. An early break can use the Tamié and Forclaz combo to build up a lead but there are many open roads for the bunch to chase and Astana, Sky, BMC Racing and others will be keen to set up a set piece summit finish.

The summit finish is ideal for Chris Froome. He was aggressive on the final climb to Pra Loup and if he can replicate that again the stage win is there. He is 1.21 down on GC and making up time looks too much. We can expect Alejandro Valverde and Vincenzo Nibali to fight for GC now but their erratic performances don’t make them such a safe pick. Tejay van Garderen makes an interesting case now, just 42 seconds behind Nibali overall, will he be willing to attack from afar to make up time or pace himself for the stage win?

Otherwise Louis Meintjes, Simon Yates, Beñat Intxausti, Andrew Talansky were all close in Pra Loup. Romain Bardet won the other thanks to bravery but he can run the big names close on the final climb. Another name is Pierre Rolland wants to win this stage but how can he do it? He was 128th yesterday and no longer an overall threat so watch to see if he goes in the early breakaway and tries a long range raid. He is climbing well, he was ninth in Pra Loup.

Chris Froome
Tejay van Garderen, Pierre Rolland
Rui Costa, Nibali, S Yates, Inxausti, Talansky, Valverde

Weather: sunshine and clouds with the risk of a thunderstorm. A top temperature of 23°C in the valleys.

TV: the race is back to the later schedule with the finish forecast for 4.40pm Euro time.

It’s an ASO race so you should find it on the same channel as you watch the Tour de France. It’s on Eurosport too and if all else fails you can rely on Cyclingfans and steephill.tv for links to feeds and streams.

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The Key June 13, 2015 at 6:22 am

The photo above from stage 6 gives new meaning to ‘glowing’. Good performance otherwise from the break group.

ZigaK June 13, 2015 at 6:33 am

What a great stage, it’s a shame they showed only the last hour of racing.
Nibali will probably take it easy today, but then again he is in the lead. We’ll see what happens. This year’s racing get’s crazier with every race. Tour de France even more exciting? 🙂

Augie March June 13, 2015 at 7:40 am

Tempting, but possibly ill-advised to expect this to continue. After all, the 2012 Giro was a tense and gripping battle all the way to the final stage, whereas the 2012 Tour was a technical exercise in watts/kg with a dominant Sky team not so much controlling the peloton as crushing it into submission. Still, we can always hope.

Ferdi June 13, 2015 at 9:30 am

Yesterday showed that when they really try, they turn everything upside down. It’s good that we make riders feel that we expect them to race like yesterday quite often, otherwise harder routes will be demanded. Reading people like the Secret Pro, one gets the feeling that a number of riders don’t like cycling like yesterday, and would prefer a safer, more predictable, less demanding sport. We have to keep our expectations high.

rockkk June 13, 2015 at 9:36 am

the secret pro is a troll

The Inner Ring June 13, 2015 at 9:47 am

Plenty in the bunch liked yesterday’s racing, it’s kind of day many want as it creates opportunities.

SirDave June 13, 2015 at 11:22 am

What yesterday’s racing showed is how you beat Chris Froome. You make it a race every day. Sky were decimated and Froome trundled in down the field. Sky really are completely tactically naive for a team who are supposed to look for “marginal gains” in every aspect of the sport. Every aspect except tactics, it seems.

Divad June 14, 2015 at 12:51 pm

I don’t know if anyone in the UK saw itv4’s highlights package of this stage, but there was a hilarious moment during Matt Rendall’s interview with Chris Froome when Rendall basically called Froome out for not being a ‘racer’, only he realised at the very last moment that this might be considered insulting, and so stumbled and chewed on his words for an uncanny amount of time beforfinally managing to spit them out. Far from looking unprofessional, it was really nice journalism I thought, but I must say I did rewind it a few times as it has me in stitches.

Thanks for the wonderblog as ever, Inrng!

The Inner Ring June 13, 2015 at 9:58 am

The 2012 Tour route was particularly suited to that kind of riding with few mountains and when they came, some steady climbing. This year’s route looks wilder, if anything the opening week looks too much and the fear is some big names crash out from the crosswinds/cobbles/street furniture before the race reaches the first mountain.

Augie March June 13, 2015 at 5:29 pm

True, but as they always say, it’s the riders who make the race. Nonetheless, as this year has a couple of stages very reminiscent of 2011 (a direct copy in one instance) which was an excellent route, hopefully it should be a cracker.

Anonymous June 13, 2015 at 7:44 am

Wasn’t Van Garderen faster than Froome up Pra Loup?

The Inner Ring June 13, 2015 at 10:29 am

You’re quite right. Both Froome and TvG were above the others on that climb, be interesting to see if they link up for today’s stage finish.

Special Eyes June 13, 2015 at 12:23 pm

After Bardet’s breakaway, if one is analysing whether Froome may be attacked, it may be as well Inrng to display graphics of the descent !
If it rains heavily today, may get one of the GC contenders having a go at Froome on a wet descent.

M June 13, 2015 at 6:38 pm

For some reason it still needs to be said: Froome is fine at descending. He is likely to be cautious is warmup races, much as he was for the Romandie final stage TT, but he is not bad at descending when he actually needs it.

terry mcdermott June 13, 2015 at 7:48 am

another suspicious astana performance. sad. bad day one day blow the race apart the next. cycling needs the removal of astana .

The Inner Ring June 13, 2015 at 9:49 am

Collectively Astana didn’t look that good, Nibali had a great day but the rest of the team vanished with Grivko and Taaramäe the next to arrive, 8/9 minutes down despite not having to chase.

For some Astana can’t win, if they were putting everyone to the sword every day they’re guilty, if they have a bad day then any improvement the next day is suspicious.

On the same basis Gallopin should be convicted because he was hanging with riders of a much higher calibre, a “suspicious” improvement. I am teasing here of course, by all means keep your eyes open but I’m not sure what was suspicious yesterday. I just hope people who judge cycling this way are not in the jury when I’m falsely accused of stealing some bread, eggs and cheese one day 😉

T-72 June 13, 2015 at 12:54 pm

This comment (” I just hope people who judge cycling this way are not in the jury when….” ) is now on the list of reasons why I absolutely love reading this blog. Thank you!

Anonymous June 13, 2015 at 2:14 pm

You took the words right out of Cookson’s mouth. Now, what are you going to do with his foot?..

Anonymous June 13, 2015 at 4:55 pm

Surely you now feel the same way about “Team Sky’s” performance today as you felt about “Astana’s” ride yesterday.

Larry T. June 13, 2015 at 7:54 am

Thanks for the review and preview! I tuned in yesterday with 20 kms or so to go and once I saw who was in the break and the lead they had thought, “How the hell did THAT happen?” I was just about to comment on how the TdF focus has seemed to turn Nibali into a rather dull character, a guy who is interesting only for 3 weeks in July. I still don’t count what happens now as all that indicative of what Le Beeg Shew will like next month, but at least this race got a bit more interesting.

Anonymous June 13, 2015 at 8:08 am

I love the picture. The difference between the riders-Alejandro Valverde looks as if he takes a deep and long look down the tunnel of pain and doesn’t like what he sees there, Vincenco Nibali seems to ask someone: “Ey, ey, can you tell me what time it is?”, Ruy Costa looks either exhausted or like a model posing for a picture, while Tony Gallopin is just desperately trying to hold on.

HWSB June 13, 2015 at 10:18 am

So it’s only June and Froome is only a minute back, but days like yesterday are clearly the way to beat him and SKY. I have no doubt Nibali and Contador will be looking at the Tour route for “ambush days” in which to take time and deal a psychological blow.

Mats June 13, 2015 at 10:44 am

So far I’ve seen two top level cyclists noticing that yesterday was the toughest day of their entire cycling career. I’m expecting to see some tired legs today.

Mats June 13, 2015 at 10:47 am

I may add that both guys were in top ten yesterday. I’m not talking of tired sprinters or Mollema who has health problems.

Cragomatic June 13, 2015 at 10:44 am

I’ll be sending telepathic support to Simon Yates (a fellow Lancastrian) and Tiesj Benoot (who’s from my adopted home town in Belgium). I was expecting Syates to be there or thereabouts, but he could end up on the podium which would be a massive result. As for Tiesj, it’ll be interesting to see how long he can hang on to the main contenders today. He could be a Belgian Kwiato.

Grammar June 13, 2015 at 11:56 am

Won in 2nd sentence last paragraph of recap ought to be ‘one’ of those days

JEB June 13, 2015 at 1:24 pm

It looked like Team Sky left it to BMC to chase as it was TVG in yellow, but BMC didnt have the fire power, and once this became clear it was too late and no sky guys left around. How will the BMC team differ in the tour? Looks llike TVG wont get the support expected from a team with a budget as big as BMC’s. I think if this was the tour teamsky wouldnt have left it to others to chase, or were they already blown from pulling back the large early break that they missed?

B-Green June 13, 2015 at 1:31 pm

You call the descent of the Forclaz ‘safe’ ? I don’t think so, it’s just as steep down the other side and very very fast and narrow in places. There aren’t too many bends, so I guess that might make it safer than some, but they’re tricky bends, not all regular hairpins…

The Inner Ring June 13, 2015 at 3:14 pm

The lack of bends, the visibility on most corners and the upper section had been tarmacked in time for the race. Even the tunnels are short.

hoh June 13, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Thanks for the great Review, Mr Ring.

One question, would yesterday’s stage be as exciting if it was not in shower? Or if Nibali & Valverde didn’t lose the tone of time the previous day?

Would the route itself (tough climb mid stage + difficult chase after) ensure an existing stage or other things (weather, rider motivation) needs to be there and come July it’s more likely to be a dull affair on the same route?

The Inner Ring June 13, 2015 at 3:17 pm

We’ve seen the climbs from yesterday’s stage start in the Tour and they’re usually good for a battle but yesterday the difference was the attacks from the big riders. It wasn’t just a fight to get in the breakaway, it was to break the race apart and seeing the big names doing this is rare.

But we’ve seen it in the Tour and in the dry. You might remember the 2013 and the stage in the Pyrenees won by Dan Martin. It started with a wild pace where Froome and Porte were quickly isolated and under pressure from Movistar. A great day’s racing although it calmed down right at the end to reduce the drama for the final hour.

hoh June 13, 2015 at 8:24 pm

That was an epic stage. Though the difference between that day and yesterday was that all the favourites were together most of the stage and whilst Garmin got a good win, they weren’t exactly GC threats that Tour. Some may even joke that Froome had a pretty comfortable ride on board the Movistar train.

That said, I shouldn’t judge how eventful that stage was by the result as the process was quite exciting. Even looking at the result, Froome was a thread away from getting dropped and cough up tones of time on that day. The other classic example might be how Contador won his 2012 Vuelta. If memory served me right, it was a median hilly stage on a dry day.

ZigaK June 13, 2015 at 3:16 pm

Did Nibali’s mechanic got a fine for hanging out of a team car?

The Inner Ring June 13, 2015 at 3:18 pm

No, just a sticky bottle for George Bennett and Lotto-Jumbo DS Eric Dekker.

Special Eyes June 13, 2015 at 8:25 pm

Very impressive today from Sky and Froome.
What gear does he spin that very high cadence in, it’s quite amazing watching him do that whilst TJ was trying to grind it out ?

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