Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 5 Preview

Friday, 8 June 2018

The race rides into the Alps and a summit finish at Valmorel, a long and gruelling climb that should help hone the hierarchy ahead of this weekend’s decisive stages.

Liège-en-Vercors: a wild start to the stage with over 50km covered in the first hour and when a breakaway finally went clear the only likely rider to stay away on the Col du Mont Noir was Astana’s Dario Cataldo, the Vuelta stage winner on the Cuitu Negru as if he likes mountains with black themes. He tried but got swept up in the end with a finish out of the Ardennes with Dan Martin, Romain Bardet, Geraint Thomas and Julian Alaphilippe detaching themselves from what was left of the peloton and Alaphilippe showed the finishing skills he used to win the Flèche Wallonne earlier this year. Sky’s Gianni Moscon – still the subject of a UCI disciplinary review – is the new race leader but faces his greatest test on today’s summit finish.

The Route: 130km across the Grésivaudan. The start is hard, it’s tempting to look at the profile and just see the final climb but the road via Neysord to the Col des Mouilles is bound to have many a rider breaking out into a sweat with 8-10% gradients. After the pass it still rises and falls until Theys where it drops down to the valley floor. Here it’s 65km up the Isère valley, past Albertville and round to the final climb.

The Finish: 12km at 7%. One way to spot people who don’t know the roads of a race is when they start referring to climbs first by their category rather than their nature, today’s climb has the hors catégorie label but it’s not really so difficult as to be beyond all attempts to categorise it. It’s a 30-something minute climb rather than 40 minutes or an hour’s effort. Used in 2013 – when Chris Froome got the better of Alberto Contador while the pair overhauled breakaway survivor Matthew Busche in the final metres – the road is 12.7km long at 7%. It’s a big wide regular road, the classic kind you find in the Alps to ferry coachloads of skiers to a resort. The route twists and turns with a series of wide hairpin bends near the finish, an ideal point for attacks where riders can exploit the gradient. It’s uphill all the way to the line but, despite the profile above, looks to level off a bit before the line.

The Contenders: this is a longer climb and so we should get a reduced group at the finish. Yesterday’s stage saw a quartet but among them Julian Alaphilippe might find this finish harder to so it’s advantage Dan Martin and Romain Bardet over Geraint Thomas to use a tennis term. Talking of which did you know Roland Garros was more cyclist than tennis player? He dabbled with a racket for fun and played football too but was French school and university champion on a bike in 1906. Anyway the Paris tennis stadium is named after him but more for his exploits as an aviator and WW1 fighter ace.

What chance the breakaway? Again climbers or powerful riders down on GC have a chance like Thomas De Gendt or Dylan Teuns but to get in the day’s move is a tall order, then to have it build up a good lead on the valley roads so they can solo away is even harder.

Romain Bardet, Dan Martin
Thomas, Yates, De Gendt, Teuns, Zakarin, Alaphilippe

Weather: sunny and 25°C but with the threat of a thunderstorm later on.

TV: coverage of the final hour and the finish is forecast for 4.30pm CEST.

Leadbellies June 8, 2018 at 6:41 am

What an absolutley perfect, feelgood piece. Smiling from ear to ear on way to work after reading this.

AP June 8, 2018 at 12:34 pm

…but Inrng seems to be struggling to hide his disdain for the bourgeois skiing community.

Foley June 8, 2018 at 4:40 pm

It’s not the skiers, it’s roads fit for motorcoaches that inrng been known to deprecate.

Anonymous June 8, 2018 at 6:42 am

If Ed Theuns gets in the mix, well… 😉

The Inner Ring June 8, 2018 at 10:20 am

I took a wrong Theuns, fixed now.

jim June 8, 2018 at 12:18 pm

Wow – planting a deliberate error, waiting for someone to point it out, purely to unleash that masterful pun. That’s playing the long game. I can just picture Dave Brailsford standing, arms folded, smirk barely surpressed, explaining how you planned it all along, nutritionalists were consulted, you had people handing you drinks and gels as you were writing it…

RQS June 8, 2018 at 8:11 am

Felt so sorry for Cataldo. He ecked over the line and could be seen holding the barrier not more than 5 metres past the finish line reflecting on what might of been as Kwiatokowski as finished. He cut quite a contrasting figure to the normal post-race camera shots of victors.

Tovarishch June 8, 2018 at 8:45 am

Just looking at the profile it looks like an ideal stage for Thomas. Guess he would have been quite pleased with yesterday’s performance compared with the Ardennes’ specialists.

Ecky Thump June 8, 2018 at 9:07 am

Yes, this was my immediate impression as well.
The final climb looks like it’s at the albeit tougher end of the scale of the archetypal ‘power climb’ that a good TT’er with climbing ability such as Thomas will manage well.
You’d expect him to be wearing the leader’s jersey by the end of today, put it that way.

Tovarishch June 8, 2018 at 9:58 am

David Hunter has tipped Thomas, so that’s him jinxed 😉

Kavan June 8, 2018 at 9:02 am

Now this is the one for Geraint Thomas of Ghent.

jc June 8, 2018 at 9:07 am

I too thought Geraint Thomas looked good yesterday, he picked up a few bonus seconds and finished in front of Romain Bardet without seeming to expend any great effort. If he can pick up more bonus seconds today it will go a long way towards winning the race as there will only be two stages left for his challengers to pull back time.

J Evans June 8, 2018 at 9:31 am

Thomas needs this win – maybe that’s why he’s going for it so much: no Monuments and nothing in grand tours.
For Thomas to win at the TdF, Froome would have to fade totally (or be banned), as would Quintana, Landa, Porte, Nibali, Bardet and a number of others: Thomas hasn’t done it over very high mountains in a GT and I can’t see that changing. There are just too many superior climbers – at the very least he’d need a Wiggins-like parcours (and maybe some other helping hands that Wiggins had).
If Froome isn’t cooked, he looks nailed on for the Tour: he has an advantage over all of his rivals in some of these instances: climbing, descending, TTT, cobbles and he has probably the strongest team.

Tom June 8, 2018 at 12:42 pm

“(and maybe some other helping hands that Wiggins had)”

[citation needed]

Anonymous June 8, 2018 at 1:37 pm

Really?
Triamcinolone is a helping hand – no matter why you take it.

Anand June 8, 2018 at 9:39 am

Well, no matter what Roland Garros did in his day, that tournament is surely $€£@’n with the Dauphine coverage at ES.

Thx for your work, as always.

RonDe June 8, 2018 at 10:28 am

It seems that many commenters so far are obsessed with what Geraint Thomas “has to do today”. For me, the Welshman will do what he does and its a regular climb on a wide road so if he has the form we should expect him to do it. He only has to cross the line with, or near, the favourites. He doesn’t have to win.

The person who does have to win, in my view, is Romain Bardet. I feel like I’m becoming a bit of a stalker to the AG2R rider but I swear I’m not doing it on purpose. He just keeps presenting himself every day as the rider with most to prove. Yesterday I pointed out he needed 30 seconds gain, per stage, to win this race which, with his supposed credentials, he should be expected to win on a course with 4 back to back MTFs in it. He didn’t manage to do that yesterday and even managed to lose 4 seconds to Thomas. Now he needs 32 seconds a stage for 3 stages on average as Thomas was himself a few seconds back. I see this race as really being Bardet vs Thomas at this point, the latter in defensive, Wigginseque mode, the former having to attack and make the necessary gains. Its the TTer vs the climber. I hope, for Bardet’s sake, that he comes out on top because he is really racing the B contenders here. Froome, Dumoulin and Quintana (and a Nibali doing more than using the race for a run out) are a level or two above what’s here. Bardet needs to prove he is at least likely to be a fighting force next month.

“Will he come to the party?” as Carlton Kirby might ask.

Tovarishch June 8, 2018 at 11:30 am

I agree but if he can win, or place well, today, it is a pointer that his form is probably at the level it needs to be prior to the Tour. For Thomas it is a gradual process, like Wiggins, preparing for a GT. Bardet, on the other hand has another 4 weeks to fine tune his form.

Lanterne_Verte June 8, 2018 at 11:44 am

You do sound a bit obsessed RonDe, Bardet doesnt have anything to prove whatsoever, he could be totally anonymous here and still be a favourite at the Tour.

noel June 8, 2018 at 1:10 pm

+1… if Yates can be at 85%, Nibali building etc then why does Bardet have to be on top form this week?

Anonymous June 8, 2018 at 8:07 pm

His beloved Chris is not riding, and to fullfill his infamous role here, he has to pick another rider he can mock about everyday on INRG. The Drachenlord of cycling.

Steve June 8, 2018 at 10:47 pm

Even I know Bardet has as much chance of winning the Tour as Larry has of becoming Pope. Geraint Thomas will remain Welsh

Nick June 8, 2018 at 12:48 pm

Unless, like Signor Nibali*, Monsieur Bardet is using the race to tune up for the Tour, rather than going all out to win.

* – formal titles used to avoid giving offence

RonDe June 8, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Well if guys who have won just a single stage race 5 years ago (Tour de l’Ain 2013, not even a World Tour race) are now using the Dauphine as mere warm up then the words “delusions of grandeur” come to mind and the Dauphine has fallen from once great heights as a prestigious race worth winning in its own right. So forgive me if I don’t buy this particular story. I think that when Bardet looks back on his career, having won the Dauphine, should he ever, might turn out to be the highlight.

noel June 8, 2018 at 1:17 pm

having come 2nd and 3rd in the last 2 years, I think he’s earned the right to think he can win the Tour

Anonymous June 8, 2018 at 2:09 pm

There’s a host of riders throughout cycling history who have podiumed in Grand Tours but never won one or much of anything else. RonDe may be wrong about Bardet but merely pointing to minor placings when everybody knows there is at least one major flaw which needs to be addressed doesn’t really cut it.

Tovarishch June 8, 2018 at 2:31 pm

What major flaw is that?

Augie March June 8, 2018 at 3:35 pm

Bardet’s time trialling. It does finally seem to be sinking in that one cannot win a The Tour de France just by losing weight to improve one’s climbing, so we’ll see how he goes against the clock here and again come July. If he’s greatly improved his TT work then, and only then, can he be talked about a serious contender for yellow.

Digahole June 8, 2018 at 12:53 pm

If Bardet does pull back 2 mins in the next few days wont he just have proved he’s peaking too early?

RonDe June 8, 2018 at 1:02 pm

Imagine Bardet is Froome. Would it have meant HE was peaking too early? Actually, compare Bardet with actual Giro-winning Froome right now. Where should Bardet’s form be, comparatively speaking?

Larry T June 8, 2018 at 3:11 pm

“He just keeps presenting himself every day as the rider with most to prove.” Should there be an IMHO in front or behind that or am I missing something? I’m watching RAI ‘s coverage so I’m not getting all the British experts comments on Bardet and what he “needs to prove” and to whom.

Anonymous June 8, 2018 at 3:23 pm

This isn’t all the british experts, it’s one person.

Richard S June 8, 2018 at 8:27 pm

What have we done to offend you so Larry? You accuse us (Brits) of being anti Nibali and now anti Bardet. I think you’ve got a definite anti-Brit agenda going on. Still you keep coming back so you can’t hate us too much!

Larry T June 8, 2018 at 8:32 pm

I think I understand it now having just heard the comments from Bardet about how Froome shouldn’t be racing with the doping cloud hanging over him. This would explain the hard-on RonDe has for Bardet I guess? Sadly the sporting gods failed to strike down the SKY star at the Giro so I’m losing hope that anything can prevent him from sh–ing on the Tour as well. 2011 all over again?

RQS June 8, 2018 at 9:58 pm

You could probably analyse this down to the continuing love/hate relationship between the French and English with waxes and wanes anon, but Bardet has the reputation of being a skilled bike handler, an excellent climber and a shrewd brain. Basically he has the foundations of a really great rider, and standing on the podium of the TdF means he’s a step or two away from claiming a grand tour. It’d be really great if he won a GT so that we had another deadly rival to face off against (and imagine how fantastic it would be that France had a true champion of its race, the greatest race in the world!!!) Bardet is close to this, but as yet, the dedication and focus does not seem to be there in a tangible sense.
There’s still time, and actually, especially after Froome’s non-performance last year (followed by a TdF win) maybe the trend has moved away from showing strong form here.

Anon June 9, 2018 at 1:34 am

Does it make me a bit naughty that I would love Bardet to win the TdF… but do it in Team Sky colours (or any other Frenchman, to be fair).

I have no real reason for it, other than that the aftermath would be hilarious to watch in whichever direction it goes.

That said, if Sky had a French contender, then the ASO might just consult with Sky’s meticulous planning department to catalogue every turn, climb, and pothole so as to turn it to their advantage. Not to mention where the extra gels and drinks should be scheduled up potential race altering climbs!

Anonymous June 8, 2018 at 11:58 pm

As a “Frenchie” I can assure you Bardet is under pressure to prove his Grand Tour credentials to the French cycling public. When he is seen being “cracked” by a Welsh ex-Classics rider on a 7% gradient after 500m effort the pressure can only increase. The cobbled aspect of this years Tour may not be the death of him if 2014 is any prediction but we can expect a minimum 2 minute deficit after the TTT and from what we saw today, Le Nouveau Professeur stands no chance of redemption in the mountains. If Thomas can crack you, imagine how Froome will scramble you. (désolé Romain.)

RQS June 8, 2018 at 7:52 pm

Your calculation needs work. It’s about 38 secs per stage now. It’s achieveable, but unlikely, especially since Thomas dispatched him today.

The Dauphine is a taster, but not the definer in respect of the TdF.

Dylan June 8, 2018 at 10:36 am

He was born – according to Wikipedia – in Cardiff, otherwise he could actually be Geraint Thomas of (Blaenau) Gwent.

Ecky Thump June 8, 2018 at 10:46 am

Ha, one to exercise the chuckle muscle, many thanks. 🙂

Cilmeri June 8, 2018 at 1:42 pm

Does “Geraint Thomas Tu Mas o Gwent” work? (It’s a stretch even for Welsh speakers….but factually correct. Translation being Geraint Thomas from outside of Gwent).

Regards the stage, looking forward to it less after the description of wide regular roads unfortunately, but hopefully it will deliver more than my expectations.

Nick June 8, 2018 at 4:55 pm

You need to mutate the Gwent to Went, but “Geraint Tu Mas o Went” sort of works.

Digahole June 8, 2018 at 1:38 pm

Well, they’re different riders, at different stages in their development so I’m not sure a comparison is that useful. I’m no cyclo-pedia type, but in being a serious contender for 4 back to back grand tours, Froome must be entering into waters unchartered since the days of Merckx in being a serious contender for 4 back to back grand tours. So how do you compare against that and who knows what’s going to happen to him in the Tour.

BUT… If we compare Bardet to Froome’s Dauphine form last year, they’re probably quite comparable in that Froome was a bit off the pace in the early part of the race – By that reasoning Bardet is about to win 3 back to back GTs! 😉

Digahole June 8, 2018 at 1:39 pm

The above was @RonDe… don’t know how it ended up down here

RonDe June 8, 2018 at 2:02 pm

And if you think that then I’ll have a glass of what you’re drinking!

Whale Oil Beef Hooked June 8, 2018 at 6:14 pm

Bardet is never going to win 3 back to back 1 week stage races, never mind GTs. I can see why he wouldnt want to be peaking here if TdF is the main objective but coaches and advisers need to get real. Sponsors otoh get their value at the Tour regardless. Plus ça change…

Digahole June 8, 2018 at 4:45 pm

When Bardet was second in 2016 he beat Quintana, A.Yates and Porte… all better TTers than him

RQS June 8, 2018 at 8:02 pm

They used to say the same about Pantani

Augie March June 9, 2018 at 7:11 am

What stage was that again? The prologue uphill TT actually featured Porte beating Bardet by 23 seconds. If you’re referring to stage 18 of the Tour de France that year, a glance at the results sheet shows that while Bardet did indeed come in ahead of Quintana and Yates, he still came in behind Porte. So some clarification would be appreciated.

Digahole June 9, 2018 at 8:17 am

I meant he beat them all on GC that year despite his poorer TT

Anonymous June 9, 2018 at 4:49 pm

Digahole is talking about GC, not a single TT stage…

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