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Critérium Dauphiné Stage 3 Preview

A stage for the sprinters with the flat finish.

Country Festival: do know know what they call a breakaway with all the big cheese in France? A breakaway royale. 14 riders went clear including some GC hopefuls, among them Michał Kwiatkowski was called back by his Ineos team so he could chase down the break. The move didn’t work but at least Tom Dumoulin’s knee does, he was up the road for a long time and doesn’t seem to be nursing his way around. No sooner did the break get reeled back did another move jump clear containing Dylan Teuns and Guillaume Martin and the pair would stay away to the finish with Teuns taking a rare win for Bahrain-Merida.

There was plenty of action behind with Thibaut Pinot attacking over the top of the Saint-Victor climb and taking Michael Woods with him and then Chris Froome, Adam Yates, Nairo Quintana, Jacob Fuglsang and Wout Poels bridged across. It made for a nail-biter finish with Martin and Teuns in a frantic two-up TT to stay away and then Pinot attacking on the run in, a move that saw Chris Froome riding with his tongue hanging out – his tell – to close the gaps all while a chase group behind. Behind the likes of Dan Martin, Romain Bardet and Richie Porte just missed the move, like passengers running along platform as their train pulls out, unable to jump aboard. Still they managed to limit their deficit to 31 seconds, the time loss is a problem for their ambitions but being dropped could be the bigger problem suggesting it could happen again in the mountains.

The Route: 177km north from Puy-en-Velay, famous among gourmets for its lentils.

The Finish: a wide, flat road to the finish with a 5km long finishing straight.

The Contenders: normally a sprint but where are the sprinters? Nacer Bouhanni went home yesterday leaving Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) as the stand-out pick ahead of Alvaro Hodeg (Deceuninck-Quickstep) and Jens Debusschere (Katusha-Alpecin). André Greipel (Arkéa-Samsic) has not won since January but should be in the mix. It’s a crunch day for Vital Concept, for two days running they’ve finished last on the team classification as if to prove ASO right not to award them a wildcard but Lorrenzo Manzin can feature, a top-5 would raise their profile.

Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) can win bunch sprints, Wanty-Gobert’s Xandro Meurisse too. Ag2r La Mondiale’s Clément Venturini isn’t an obvious pick but kept running Dylan Groenewegen (too) close in the Four Days of Dunkerque last month and fellow cyclo-cross rider Joris Nieuwenhuis (Team Sunweb) can also sprint well. Altogether it’s enough to set up a sprint but still not the certainty as some of the teams listed above may fancy sending a rider or two up the road as well.

Sam Bennett, Alvaro Hodeg
Jens Debusschere, Clément Venturini, EBH
Greipel, Colbrelli, Nieuwenhuis, Manzin

Weather: rain and top temperature of 16°C.

TV: the finish is forecast for 4.30pm CEST / Euro time.

{ 36 comments… add one }
  • Michael Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 6:20 am

    that was one of the best days of racing this far this season. Pinot was a BEAST today! Very happy to see him so strong, hopefully he hasn’t come in too hot to the Dauphiné and still has room to boil for the big show!

    Alaphilippe continues to impress as well, after that lead out yesterday straight into the break today….i’ll be curious to know what his exact ambitions are for July.

    • cp Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 7:03 am

      Does Pinot have the support to really take a run at the GC in the TDF?

      • oldDAVE Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 11:10 am

        Despite Reichenbach’s aparant granny descending at last years Giro he was with Pinot deep into the Finestre stage suggesting that maybe Pinot does have some proper support in the big mountains…

        • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 11:13 am

          Molard just missed the split yesterday, ie he’s up there with Porte, Bardet, Kruijswijk and there’s Gaudu too. For me the team is ok, the challenge is Pinot’s consistency, can he stay healthy with all the pressure and expectation on him; plus how will he fare on the high altitude climbs? Especially as a good Dauphiné is going to ratchet up the pressure further, even yesterday morning he was being asked about the Tour and that was before his attacks yesterday.

          • STS Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 11:30 am

            It’s just my impression of course but I figure that Pinot has now understood to make the most of his chances, talent and his shape instead of hunting that elusive TdF GC success at all cost.
            Maybe Ala’s success last year at the TdF showed him that you can be very successful and loved and therefore earn a well-paid contract if you prominently contribute to the show by winning stages spectacularly instead of trying to hang on to the Sky train for as long as you can and then reach a Top Ten GC placing.
            He’s riding for a 100% French team after all and his compatriots have always honoured that attitude, right?

          • Road furniture Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 9:35 pm

            I draw a similar conclusion, but I think the inspiration comes less from Alaphilippe’s Tour and maybe more from Pinot’s own Lombardia win last year. He proved to himself and others that he can ride the best off his wheel and win with style. That must do wonders for his confidence and I feel I can detect a kind of fearlessness in his riding since then.

          • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 11:32 pm

            Likewise, Road furniture, but as in Lombardia, he can do this on some climbs but not them all and in certain conditions. Pinot can cope ok with altitude despite hardly training at altitude, but prefers a slightly lower gradient for the long climbs and cooler conditions. In other words he can win the biggest of races on the right day in the right conditions, but not all the time.

    • Jacob Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 11:16 am

      Could it be that Alaphilippe led out Gilbert because he didn’t have the legs to sprint himself? And that his failed breakaway and following drop straight through the peloton was another sign of bads legs?

      That’s another way to interprete it.

      • KevinK Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 1:15 pm

        I had similar thoughts myself. Maybe after his sizzling early 2019, he’s on a slower ramp-up to the TdF?

    • Michael B Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 11:21 am

      Agreed, great stage and Pinot looked strong. Fuglsang looked really good to me as well, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him defend his title. When he rolled off the front I think it was Froome who lost the wheel as well, with Poels coming to his rescue.

    • Paul Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 9:41 pm

      Mountains Jersey again I am guessing

  • Ecky Thump Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 6:47 am

    I unfortunately did not see the racing yesterday but judging from the summary any possible thoughts of a Kwiatkowski tilt at GC were well and truly squashed, looks to be the Chris Froome show?

    And it will be interesting to see how Pinot’s TT goes, it would surely feel quite demoralising for him if someone like Bernal matches / betters his own effort, never mind Froome?

    Two frantic and unpredictable days of racing so far though.

  • jc Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 7:42 am

    Given he is the only “big” sprinter left in the race it should be Sam Bennett today. Unless there is a big crash or similar cant see a break managing to stay away.

    From what bits and piece I saw from yesterday it was pretty breathless stuff. Thibaut Pinot seems to be pretty motivated. Chris Froome is clearly at the race to win, not just to give his legs a run out. Perhaps just as relevant to the Tour is that Wout Poels seems to be back on form, the Ineos team could be even stronger than any of the previous Sky ones, something bound to cause a lot of comment. Nairo Quintana appears to be in good nick too, I guess he has no intention of letting Mikel Landa be No. 1 come July.

    • Davesta Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 11:43 am

      Yesterday was a great stage! And certainly there’s a few contenders in very good shape here – Pinot looked exceptionally good, Woods also clearly in good shape as I think it was he that sparked the action following his leadout from Bettiol (you could see a pink EF helmet closing in on Lutsenko & company through the mist before Pinot appeared on the front)…Froome clearly has good legs and is motivated and Poels looks back to near his best like you say.
      Fulgsang and Quintana also looking solid, though Quintana continues his aversion to the wind (his 1 second pull and panicked elbow flick was hilarious!)
      I can’t wait for the mountain stages to come!

    • Somers Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 12:13 pm

      Looks like it’ll be a super strong team; Froome, Thomas, Bernal, Kwiatkowski, poels, Moscon and then a couple for the flats. Wouldn’t be surprised to see 3 skineos riders together at the end of a summit finish

  • RQS Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 8:15 am

    An extremely enjoyable stage with lots of action. Pinot looks in good form. It seems pretty predictable that Ritchie Porte winds up on the losing end of a GC break. There may be changes in the top ten yet, but that break very much felt like a case of the cream rising to the top and major race selection.

  • IanP Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 8:21 am

    Tarantino reference, INRNG nice one. Can we imagine the soundtrack that he would put together for a days racing, or yesterday Pinot as the hitman.

  • Gelato4bahamontes Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 9:13 am

    Le puy in the freezing fog of a march morning but the lentils and sausage for lunch was fantastic

    • Ecky Thump Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 8:29 pm

      That sounds like a World War II secret code message issued over the BBC World Service for the Resistance.

      • Andy W Wednesday, 12 June 2019, 11:19 am

        Indeed :o)

        Les sanglots longs des violons de l’automne blessent mon cœur d’une langueur monotone

  • Anonymous Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 10:25 am

    Quintana looks really comfortable, tagging along behind Ineos and the other GC guys like an upgraded version of Adam Yates. The weather is perfect for Quintana though, so probably unwise to extrapolate to July too much.
    Bardet, Martin et al. situation is ‘not great, not terrible’. They already need an ambush though I feel.

    • oldDAVE Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 11:13 am

      Quintana has looked like a different rider this season, more comfortable and willing to throw caution to the wind.

      But at the same time he’s never looked on a different level to other riders, his attacks have been in the most part easily marked by younger riders and maybe this new found comfort has come out of an acceptance he is now rarely the favourite for an out right win.

      • plurien Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 12:30 pm

        Anyone else think Quintana has made big changes to his set-up and riding position? He seems further forward on the saddle, like his frame is now slightly longer/ taller and his hips don’t rock so much. First noticed because I didn’t recognise him instantly when seen in a break.

        • Allegedly Anthony Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 1:59 pm

          I recognised him when he sat on, sat on, came to the front, pulled for 20 metres and then immediately started waggling his elbow…

          • Anonymous Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 5:43 pm

            The rider you described was Chris Froome.

  • STS Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 11:17 am

    Teuns and Martin were very, very impressive holding off that elite group who were really racing as the group with Bardet, Porte et al. couldn’t close the gap.

    Made me wonder how much longer Martin will race for Wanty – wearing that terrible helmet 😉 – and why Dylan Teuns doesn’t win more often. Both are obviously class acts.

    If Frome wasn’t bluffing – it didn’t look like that – he has still some way to go to reach that TdF dominator shape although he already appears very lean which made Pinot almost look like a body builder in comparison.

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 11:30 am

      Martin’s extended his contract with the team and so will be there until the end of next year at least, he’s also hired a coach away from Ag2r (their altitude training specialist) and is central to Wanty Gobert’s position as a team able to get wildcard invites, both because of his points but also as he catches the eye of ASO. Teuns just seems to have been unlucky, a string of second places when he could have converted this into a win in the last two years at least once with a break here or there.

  • Cascarinho Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 12:18 pm

    “A breakaway with all the big cheese” in Auvergne, near Salers, Cantal, Bleu d’Auvergne and Fourme d’Ambert… Good one, Inrng.
    Very good stage yesterday indeed. We often have great stages in the Dauphiné.
    Meurisse for the sprint ? He seems to me he’s a puncheur, not a sprinter, and I can’t really see in his palmarès a placette in a real sprint…

    • plurien Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 12:32 pm

      …how can you not mention St Nectaire??!!

      • Cascarinho Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 6:57 pm

        I knew I forgot one, and it’s my favourite. Unforgivable.

  • Noel Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 12:21 pm

    I really felt for the front two – that sprint seemed to last forever, after about 15k of lung busting effort to stay away…

    • John Irvine Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 5:08 pm

      Something about the parcours, the weather, the racing itself, and maybe the way it was filmed. That just came across as the most viscerally brutal last 30 km of racing I’ve watched in quite a while.

  • escarabajo Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 12:27 pm

    Oh, Nacer …🤦‍♂️

  • Paddy Dunne Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 7:25 pm

    Sam’s win today at thé Dauphine, does that make him the most successful sprinter this year?

    • Anonymous Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 10:11 pm

      No, Groenewegen has more wins and Turkey is “only a shitty race” according to Cavendish.

  • Matt Johnson Wednesday, 12 June 2019, 3:59 am

    Hello! Though I’d let you know that I’m very much enjoying these previews, so keep up the good work. On another note: have you had any chance to check out the field for the Tour of Belgium, and if so, what are your thoughts? I see the bookies have Wellens and Evenepoel as joint favorites, but would be great to learn your take on that race as well.
    Kind regards,
    Matt

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