Dauphiné Stage 8 Preview

Sunday, 14 June 2015

The last but not the least of the stages of the 2015 Critérium du Dauphiné. The scenic Lacets de Montvernier feature before the final climb to Valfréjus. The stage ends with a ski station summit finish but it’s a short climb, maybe still enough for Chris Froome to challenge Tejay van Garderen’s overall lead.

Stage 7 Wrap: another fine day’s racing. A big breakaway of 14 went clear from the start and the group swelled to 26 during the stage when Europcar missed the move and tried to place Pierre Rolland up the road. From this Cofidis’ Dani Navarro and Trek Factory Racing’s Riccardo Zoidl attacked and started the final climb together with almost three minutes’ lead. The Côte des Amerands was labelled as a first category climb, status inflation for 2.7km climb. A pig of a climb none the less and it blew the chasing peloton to pieces. Sky’s Peter Kennaugh set the pace and Vincenzo Nibali was ejected, off the pace but seemingly unprepared with his gearing for the steep slopes.

Onto the final climb to Le Bettex and Sky kept the pace up until Chris Froome and Tejay van Garderen rode away. The two took turns to share the work until Froome attacked and this time van Garderen could not pace himself back but managed to ride into the yellow jersey with Beñat Intxausti coming third. Among the others Louis Meintjes was the best resistant from the breakaway while Ag2r’s Alexis Vuillermoz helped pace Romain Bardet to 6th place on the stage. Alejandro Valverde was 17th, Vincenzo Nibali 24th, almost four minutes down.

Tejay van Garderen is in control but can he keep is 18 second lead? BMC Racing will be grateful it’s not a big mountain stage as he’s been isolated at in the summit finishes with Samuel Sanchez two minutes behind in Pra Loup and over eight minutes yesterday. Now Sanchez should be able to ride with him for much longer. It all sets up a tight finish especially with the time bonuses of 10-6-4 seconds for the first three.

tejay van garderen dauphine 2015

The Route: an air of déjà vu as the race rides back through Ugine and Albertville where things started last weekend. The climb to Héry-sur-Ugine is a sharp one with some steep hairpins and then the race makes its way to the Maurienne valley via the Côte de Saint-Georges-d’Hurtières, better known as the start of the Col de Cucheron.

Lacets Montvernier profile

The come the Lacets de Montvernier (for the full story, see Roads to Ride – Lacets to Montvernier) which translates as the Montvernier hairpins. As the name suggests it’s twisty and so the linear profile doesn’t do the climb justice. There are 18 hairpins in 3.5km. It’s fun but for the race just a climb to scale and as there’s still 50km to go it should be pretty on TV but probably not that tactical.

Valfréjus profile

The Finish: a mini-summit finish. There are no surprises here, it’s a large wide road with some early hairpins before arriving into the ski resort of Valfréjus.

The Contenders: Chris Froome is 18 seconds behind Tejay van Garderen overall so if he can put 12 or more seconds into the race leader on the final climb then thanks to the time bonus he can win the race overall. Sky’s leader skipped the post-race press conference yesterday, forfeiting his prize money but perhaps because he wants to get as much recovery as possible while van Garderen was being interrogated by the media. It’s easy to imagine Team Sky drilling the pace up the Maurienne valley with the hope of making the race as hard as possible so that the final climb, however short it may be, is decisive.

Only it’s all to obvious. Van Garderen just needs to track Froome and if the Sky rider takes a flyer, follow him as there’s even a chance of pipping him for the stage win. Many others will be sat on Sky’s coattails hoping for a free ride to the finish. On a relatively short climb – this is still an Alpine ascent – the likes of Simon Yates, Joaquim Rodriguez and Dan Martin come to mind. Martin was unlucky to puncture yesterday and has looked better as the race goes on.

As for a breakaway, it’ll need some heavy hitters to stay away given the open terrain, the small climbs followed by large valley roads which suit the peloton over a breakaway. Last year’s race saw things go wild from the start but this was helped by the hilly terrain of the final stage, today is not so obvious. Maybe the likes of Tony Martin, Wilco Kelderman, Rein Taaramäe or Stephen Cummings try something.

Chris Froome
Simon Yates, Dan Martin, Joaquim Rodriguez
van Garderen, Bardet, Intxausti

Weather: sunshine, clouds and the outside chance of a shower. 21°C in the valley.

TV: another late slot finish with the race scheduled to end around 4.50pm 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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Anonymous June 14, 2015 at 7:31 am

Typo in first sentence, last but not least stage.

Eddie Blossom June 14, 2015 at 7:55 am

This is a big mental test for Van Garderen. I’ve seen him ride his way into good GC finishes in the tour but it’s always through steady not explosive riding. He’ll have to be one of a select few by the end of today if he wants to keep yellow, and I’ve never seen him on that position.

The Inner Ring June 14, 2015 at 11:11 am

The final climb suits him as it’s not so steep, you can roll a big gear up. As you say we’ll see, he says he’s a lot calmer these days and that in the past he would not have slept last night out of anxiety.

sifter June 14, 2015 at 9:18 am

I hope the TV coverage includes the Lacets de Montvernier. I had the pleasure to ride them two years ago between the Glandon and Madeleine. Stunning but very hard – and somewhat dangerous – to photograph!

Foley June 14, 2015 at 4:03 pm
Tristan June 14, 2015 at 10:36 am

I believe that the highly impressive young South African Louis Mentjies was 3rd on the stage yesterday instead of Inxausti! Worth noting the maturity with which Mentjies rode with yesterday, never over exerting himself but setting a strong tempo up the climbs. He never looked the strongest in the break, but the end result shows he clearly was. Also, although he was in the break, he managed to stay maintain a good pace and didn’t loose to much time to Froome and TVG! Paring this with the 6th on Pra Loup, I believe he’ll be one to watch for a stage win in the tour!

The Inner Ring June 14, 2015 at 11:14 am

They’ve done very well with Meintjes and Teklehaimanot. Seen as a team of sprinters, MTN-Qhubeka has climbed very well this week.

Special Eyes June 14, 2015 at 2:21 pm

This could well be a foretaste of things to come ; fast forward say 10-15 years and it would be no surprise perhaps to see lots more top climbers out of East Africa, maybe even GC contenders.
If MTN Qhubeka are succesful and further investment is made into African cycling, there is surely lots of natural potential on tap out there – benefits of being born at altitude etc.
Much as in the way world athletics distance running came to be dominated by the Eastern Africans.

Will June 14, 2015 at 10:41 am

Great ride from Meintjies! He is only 23, mtn contract finishes this year. He did well in the u23 TT worlds last year – the sky machine must be eyeing him up as a possible successor to Froome.

Fatso Rosa June 14, 2015 at 12:11 pm

It’s been a great racing season so far. With none of the big names taking big time early and cruise until the end. Can’t wait for the tour.

A bit off topic, but I think IF(big if) Contador winds the tour, it should count as a GT triple. Maybe call it the “modern triple” or “best human effort triple”. Because let’s face it, no one is going to win all three in a year these days.

hoh June 14, 2015 at 1:29 pm

Had anybody actually done a true triple?

Ronin June 15, 2015 at 3:51 am

No one has ever won all three GTs in the same calender year. Merckx and Hinault are the only ones to have won all three consecutively. Contador has a chance to join this very exclusive club.

Ronin June 15, 2015 at 4:55 am

Hmm. Yes, a term for this accomplishment would be nice. Not sure I see any noteworthy options. “Triple Crown” is already used, confusingly in my mind, to refer to winning the Giro, Tour, and WC in the same year. We could follow golf and tennis and refer to winning all three GTs as the Grand Slam of Cycling. And, in golf, winning all the majors consecutively but not in the same year is now a “Tiger Slam”, since Tiger Woods is the only one to do this. Merckx was the first to win all three GTs consecutively. (In fact, he won four: 72 Giro, 72 Tour, 73 Vuelta, 73 Giro.) Ergo, we might call the title at issue, “The Cannibal Slam”. Well. Maybe not. 🙂

Andrew June 14, 2015 at 12:30 pm

I thought TVG made a mistake yesterday working with Froome. Froome had to commit to driving hard so just sit behind him, & Froome would be pretty certain to be strong enough to get the time back on GC on those ahead at that time. The day before Froome had shown unwilling to make any efforts at the front, TVG imo should have been steely enough to return the favour.

Andrew June 14, 2015 at 12:33 pm

To add, there’s no way Sky were going to do all that work for Froome then to play games over the workload on the final climb.

Anonymous June 14, 2015 at 1:09 pm

Agreed, I think TVG would regret it a bit in hindsight.

W. June 14, 2015 at 12:33 pm

Just one note regarding TV broadcasts. Regardless of the fact that it’s an ASO race, there’s a very “special” flavour of Eurosport 1 and 2 which is distributed in certain countries (Croatia is my example), or maybe certain local distribution companies, which has the live broadcasts of the Dauphine race listed on the schedule, but which actually never happen. They rather occur later in some unexpected times as delayed recorded last hour of racing, or so… which is again quite contrary to Eurosport’s published schedule, or at times like 3 or 4 a.m… while at normal prime-time they show the Watts crap. So that’s Eurosport for some of the Europe… FYI… probably some TV broadcast rights crap or something… whatever the reason is, it’s quite annoying.

Andrew Cowley June 14, 2015 at 4:58 pm

This exact same this happens in Australia, so it’s not just you. Very annoying when you set a timer to record a race and you get only part of it due to the scheduled timing being way off.

Megi June 14, 2015 at 5:55 pm

The problem is that individual sports don’t consider other sports taking place on the same day and happily over-run – tennis is particularly good at doing this. Eurosport shows a lot of tennis. Once one sport over-runs, the knock-on effect on other scheduled broadcasts is like a line of dominoes falling. The best approach I find is to assume the programme will over-run by at least an hour and set the timer accordingly. That also allows for pauses under bridges in hot weather/peloton taking the day off etc.

Shawn June 14, 2015 at 1:53 pm

I truly dislike when time bonuses play a key role in deciding the final GC. I hope that will not be the case today. I understand how bonuses ‘liven up’ early stages of a GT that is going through relatively flat terrain by increasing the chances of the lead changing hands but mountainous stages provide their own separation without the bonuses. Why does ASO include time bonuses throughout the Dauphine but only in the 1st nine stages of the Tour?

JEB June 14, 2015 at 2:02 pm

Might we see a Froom-TVG alliance in the tour, taking on Nibali and Contador, especially on the long constant gradient ski station summits?

Augie March June 14, 2015 at 3:41 pm

Doesn’t it sort of defeat the purpose of choosing a road like the Lacets de Montvernier when the TV pictures turn on just as the peloton crests the top? Massive fail and condemnation to everyone involve.

danielrpalmer June 14, 2015 at 4:05 pm

I totally agree, yet builds the anticipation for stage 18 when it is 10km from the finish line. I doubt it will be missed from the live coverage in July and will hopefully see attacks rather than tempo

Shawn June 14, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Also, press photographers and general spectators banned from roadside on the Lacets. Grrrr!

Augie March June 14, 2015 at 4:13 pm

Given the road I can kinda see the argument for that (especially at the Tour given the infinitely larger number of spectators) but surely that puts even MORE emphasis on getting it on TV? It’s becoming increasingly common to hear commentators remark in continual amazement “We seem to be well ahead of the fastest anticipated schedule….” Race organisers should pay attention to this sort of thing and add an extra 10% time buffer, (especially when Astana is in the race).

Vitus June 14, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Take a look at the road and you know why.
When I read thsi Podium Cafe article yesterday, my first question was: “how the hell this small path should be ridden with spectators. I just can’t work
http://www.podiumcafe.com/2014/10/27/7070227/les-lacets-de-montvernier-and-surroundings

Kjetil June 15, 2015 at 9:19 am

I’ve ridden it. It’s just too narrow for the normal amount of TdF spectators. Better watch on the Glandon.

The Inner Ring June 15, 2015 at 9:31 am
The Inner Ring June 15, 2015 at 9:30 am

It was a test for the Tour de France, we’ll see it all in July.

Special Eyes June 14, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Great day for the Brits. Sky train very strong, Cummings having a go, Yates 2nd and gets the White Jersey and of course Froome.
Saying that, I wonder if the Brits in the race had a word amongst themselves beforehand ?

Matt June 14, 2015 at 5:44 pm

Well Yates gave no help to TJVG in chasing Froome down, which shows awareness of Froome’s situation, but I think Cummings’ move, and the consequences of it, would be too well thought out for Sky.

Special Eyes June 14, 2015 at 5:37 pm

What does everyone make of Nibali too ?
One day on off, one on, a nibble here and there.
Is he so undercooked as he makes out / is it possible to fine tune your preparation to improve to the degree that has been suggested ?
Or he is just playing it very wily, having a blast here and there but keeping it largely under wraps for Teh Tour ?

michael June 14, 2015 at 5:47 pm

While the Giro was an outstanding race this year with lots of action and intrigue, this edition of the Dauphinée is by far the best race of 2015 thus far. You can rail about time bonuses affecting the final outcome, but the table was set for everyone and they were all invited to the same dinner party.

Outstanding racing the last 3 days, again proving that it is the racers who make the race.

Petar Dundjerski June 14, 2015 at 6:16 pm

how far are we from an Inrng article expounding on the virtues of recent renaissance of exciting racing? Post Vuelta 2014?

Peter June 14, 2015 at 6:21 pm

What, no highlights on itv4? Some crap western instead!

Anonymous June 14, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Try 10pm, after the live football match between two teams with huge British support, Belarus and Spain.

Anonymous June 14, 2015 at 6:39 pm

Try Itv player.

Anonymous June 14, 2015 at 7:23 pm

Thanks to both Anonymi?

hoh June 15, 2015 at 2:05 am

Just Watched the ITV highlight. Bloody hell, I will suffer all the ITV ads to have Millar commentating the Tour.

O L June 15, 2015 at 9:25 am

+1 to hoh (I don’t seem to be able to reply to that comment…)

The Millar/Boulting combination this year has made the pain of ITV’s low-quality stream and interminable ads worth it… It’s also nice that they bother to have the studio with Imlach/Boardman to chat after the finish.
(OK, it’s not that bad, but I had been watching with Eurosport open and muted alongside…)

Cracking finish to another good edition of the Dauphine, maybe not quite the carnage of last year’s final stage but overall just as good!

BenW June 15, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Millar was so refreshing. I’m slowly warming to him, knowing his past and disliking the tone of his book a little, but I’m liking him more and more as he neared retirement then in retirement. Panache on and off the bike. I hope they keep him on for Le Tour. Ned Boulting too – sure, he got into a flap at times but I wouldn’t say he was any worse than anyone else for that.

TourDeUtah June 15, 2015 at 5:59 am

Bummer for TJ. I was rooting for him to win his first Big Stage race.

p.s. INRNG, will you be providing preview for the Tour De Suisse ?

The Inner Ring June 15, 2015 at 8:54 am

No. Stage previews are by far the most time-consuming pieces to produce on here. Even without riding the route there’s a lot of info to gather and check and having done the Giro and Dauphiné, it’s time to rest ahead of the Tour.

Joe K. June 15, 2015 at 6:36 am

INRNG was right on the money for the final stage preview–even down to Froome winning by the time bonus for first place! Bravo, monsieur.

sifter June 15, 2015 at 12:18 pm

All your efforts are greatly appreciated, inrng. I’ve maintained a blog for several years now, and am lucky to manage one per week at the height of my riding season. That you publish such quality, day after day, is quite remarkable. I hope you’re proud of it, and that it remains a passion rather than a chore.

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