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Critérium du Dauphiné Preview

Last year saw Geraint Thomas win en route to his Tour de France success. This time Chris Froome leads a long list of those hunting for a big win this season and looking to test their form ahead of the Tour de France.

Route summary:

  • Stages 1 and 2 are for sprinters if they can cope with a climb or two, Stage 3 is the sprint stage.
  • Stage 4 is a 26km time trial, almost long distance these days, and a chance for some to put a minute or more into the pure climbers on a course with a climb mid-way but a drag to suit those able to push a big gear.
  • Stage 6 an Alpine marathon of 228km to the climb of the “Col de Beaune”, 8km at 6.6% and then a fast descent into the finish. Stage 7 is a 130km dash with a long summit finish to Pipay, 20km at 7%. Finally Stage 8 sees the race head to Switzerland and just 113km with plenty of climbing
  • There are time bonuses of 10-6-4 seconds at the finish line and 3-2-1 seconds at the intermediate sprints.

Combined this makes for a course where the TT will create significant time gaps and then the three mountain stages should make for lively racing with the short distances.

Chris Froome (Team Ineos) is the obvious pick. We haven’t see him in action since he playing gregario to Pavel Sivakov and Tao Geohegan Hart in the Tour of the Alps and Chris Lawless in Yorkshire but his form should have improved. The time trial and the mountains suit him, the TT providing a hierarchy to the race and especially the long set-piece summit finish to Pipay. Winning another Dauphiné isn’t essential but with Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal likely to race the Tour de Suisse before joining Froome in the Tour de France here’s a chance to get a win and top dog status. We can overdo the office politics element, after a year without a win Froome would probably just want to win for its own sake and the course suits. Wout Poels and Michał Kwiatkowski come in support.

Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) needs a result too, normally his problem is converting success in shorter stage races into grand tour results but this year illness derailed plans this spring and it’s been a quiet season since his habitual triumph on Willunga Hill. But the course suits with the TT and the mountain stages and two years ago he won the TT stage en route to second overall and his risk is the same again, even if he has the form to win the TT he hasn’t got the team to lock down the race in the mountains.

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) should be of great interest. He had a surprise spring campaign, often a strong rider over the years, this time he was the strongest and started winning and placing. After a long break he’s back for the summer and we’ll see what he can do in the Alps instead of the Ardennes.

Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) took a stage last year and finished on the podium. More of the same would be ideal while Jack Haig is one to watch, a valuable helper who is emerging into a stage race contender too, he was fourth in the last Paris-Nice.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is a candidate for the podium but it’s hard to see him on the top step given the length of the time trial stage here. He’s said to be in advanced talks with the Arkéa-Samsic team about a move which, even just typing, feels bizarre for a rider capable of finishing on the podium of two grand tours a year and scoring in other stage races along the way.

Bora-Hansgrohe bring Emanuel Buchmann as they try to nurture German talent. Buchmann had a great Tour of the Basque Country, he was climbing with the best and we’ll see if he can continue this on the longer Alpine climbs. He’ll still suffer in the TT compared to others. Felix Großschartner will be good support.

Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) has had two career wins since turning pro at the start of the decade but he can place high and the upcoming Tour de France route suits him so the aim should be finish in the top-10 and healthy. Wout van Aert will be interesting to watch in the high mountains, he’s a big talent but bulky with it.

Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) is back racing after his Giro crash. A pause in training to recover probably means this week is a test rather than a target, a chance to bank a week of racing before spending the rest of the month refocusing for the Tour de France. But if he’s in good shape the course suits, he can do a strong TT and then sit in Team Ineos’s slipstream for as long as possible.

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) has won time trials before but his challenge is the high mountains. He can cope with a 20 minute climb and won a stage last year in the Dauphiné in the Vercors but holding on for a longer climb like Stage 7 is a tough ask. Instead a stage win is more likely.

Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First) has potentially got what it takes as he can place with the best in a TT and the mountains only he’s often good for a top-10 but rarely a win. Michael Woods can offer support or aim for a stage.

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) are the local hopes as they build up for the Tour de France. Bardet especially will be on the back foot in the TT so this is more a test of how he can cope with the climbing speeds set by Ineos. Pinot won the Tour de l’Ain two weeks ago, soaring away solo on the Grand Colombier but against a light field, and his team mate David Gaudu is slowly improving and had an excellent Tour de Romandie.

Finally there’s a wave of climbers who could shape the race over the final weekend. The sheer number means the mountain stages ought to get lively. Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) won a stage last year and is probably the best of the bunch. Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) is a talent but a rare winner, especially at World Tour level. Darwin Atapuma (Cofidis) is a pure climber signed to spice things up. Pierre Rolland (Vital Concept-B&B Hotels) and Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) are back after missing a lot of racing this spring and both need to a result, especially Rolland his team who missed out on a Tour de France wildcard so this is their week to try and show something. Finally twenty year olds Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto-Soudal) and Mark Padun (Bahrain-Merida) are worth watching too, Lambrecht came to the fore in the Ardennes this year while Padun might not be so famous but had a great debut season last year but has only raced once this season.

Chris Froome
Richie Porte
Adam Yates, Jacob Fuglsang, Tom Dumoulin, Michał Kwiatkowski, Nairo Quintana
Dan Martin, Thibaut Pinot, David Gaudu, Jack Haig
Bardet, Alaphilippe, Buchmann

TV: it should be on the same channel you get the Tour de France and Eurosport has it too. The first stage on Sunday finishes early but otherwise the other stages will finish around 4.30-5.00pm CEST.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Richard S Friday, 7 June 2019, 4:27 pm

    I agree that Froome will probably want to win this, and therefore probably will seen as Dumoulin isn’t likely to be at his sharpest. It’ll be interesting to see how well Kwiatkowski does. He seems to want to focus on the Tour now and seemingly anyone who rides for Skyneos and puts their mind to it can win the Tour. I’d also be interested to see how Alaphilippe would do if he really concentrated on this kind of thing. If here and in the Tour he does well in TT’s and hangs with the best on all but the longest climbs the ASO might be tempted in to changing their recent policy on route designs.

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 8 June 2019, 12:08 am

      Kwiatkowski will be interesting to watch as you say. He’s enigmatic, another way of saying who knows what he’ll do as he could thrive in the TT and then try to defend in the mountains and this might be too much for three weeks but is more manageable for a couple of days.

    • Ecky Thump Saturday, 8 June 2019, 6:18 am

      You have to wonder whether his Paris-Nice experience earlier in the season was telling though?
      He got blown away in the mountains there and, at this point, matching the climbers looks beyond his very considerable talents.
      His versatility makes him a shoe-in for Ineos’ A team but, at the same time, he’s then too valuable to wrap up in cotton wool as a protected leader.
      We’ll see though, but he needs to start winning these prestigious one week races on a consistent basis before any grander ambitions are realised?

      • gabriele Sunday, 9 June 2019, 1:11 pm

        “We’ll see though, but he needs to start winning these prestigious one week races on a consistent basis before any grander ambitions are realised?”

        Well, if you look at Geraint Thomas’ history, Kwiatkwo doesn’t need anything else in order to go from versatile one-day racer to Tour de France winner: a couple of Algarve, *one* high-level short stage race victory early in the season (be it Paris-Nice or Tirreno), a lesser one later on (be it Trentino or Pologne), some prestigious runner-up spot here and there (be it Itzulia or Suisse), and here you are, Sky (or Ineos) launches you for the customary (for them) Dauphiné-TdF double, just as people tip you as a possible TdF winner – then, you make it, of course.

        …I am not saying that this is what you’d normally expect, but, hey, this is what they made happen, and more then once, so why bother with reasonable expectations?

  • Paul Friday, 7 June 2019, 6:35 pm

    I don’t think I can remember a time when I have seen so little of the main TDF challengers so anybody’s guess as to how well they are going!

    Is it a risk for them to race so little? Is training to power numbers so important that it trumps actual racing now?

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 8 June 2019, 12:04 am

      It’s a mix of both. Froome had a loaded season last year with the Giro-Tour last year but more before and after so he’s needed a rest. Others like Dumoulin and Porte among others have had periods of rest forced on them.

      One future blog post on here is to explore the idea of whether everyone is overtraining, in that tradition dictates you need to race in order to get ready for racing but often we see those who skip races by accident or illness can come back fresher than those following a normal schedule of race after race. But easier to mention in an oblique comment than explore in more depth, it’s not an easy topic to stand up.

    • Andrew Saturday, 8 June 2019, 12:23 am

      True. Race very little, show up at the Tour and smoke everyone… hey, Lance Armstrong did that!

      • JeroenK Saturday, 8 June 2019, 10:25 am

        Well, we tend to forget that besides his unnatural help, he and his team did a lot of things right that was legal. We know now that doping was widespread in that era, so they had to do something extra right, besides raw talent (I assume he did not dope as a 15 year old triathlete…) to dominate the way they did.

        • Fourlegs Saturday, 8 June 2019, 1:04 pm

          I thought it was well established that he did as a 16 year old

        • gabriele Saturday, 8 June 2019, 4:43 pm

          What wasn’t widespread was the tight connection with institutions within and around cycling which helped granting him and his team unprecedented immunity, thanks to a very unbalanced situations in terms of power and money, underlined by several conflicts of interest which nobody seemed to notice or be interested in.
          Superior doping was just a consequence, not the first cause. And that’s actually the sort of context in which doping can make a serious difference, normally you’ll easily see that athletes don’t get that better or get soon caught (with Aderlass providing good examples of both).

          • KevinK Sunday, 9 June 2019, 12:18 pm

            The story you’re alluding to (about the power and money games by LA et al.) still hasn’t been fully told, and it is frustrating to me that LA and many others still largely refuse to acknowledge it. I listen the some of LA’s podcasts, and he seems to be evolving into a relatively unrepentant position of “I did indeed dope, but everyone did, too.” And as far as he’s concerned, that’s the end of the story. Sometimes there’s a glancing acknowledgment of the way he bullied and threatened people, but he also still holds a lot of grudges. But I have yet to hear him acknowledge that he literally bribed people, and engaged in behavior that gave him the unprecedented immunity you refer to. It’s frustrating.

  • Michael B Friday, 7 June 2019, 9:03 pm

    It’s an intriguing race this year, with so many riders in unknown form. In cycling it seems to me like dominant riders can go from seemingly being unbeatable to finished within a day – Indurain and LeMond spring to mind. Could Froome have that moment or is it a long lost era in the age of W/Kg tests?

    Last year no one really believed Thomas was leader but he did it, so Sky did stick to the “strongest rider wins” policy. If that rider is Bernal this year would Brailsford go with that? Would Froome accept it? It was one thing his loyal super domestique taking his crown, but a young rider?

    Maybe our best hope for a great TdF is Inneos adopting Movistar’s trident strategy! I’d love to see Dumoulin firing on all cylinders as well. And I still think sometime Porte will put three weeks together (I know, I know…)

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 8 June 2019, 12:00 am

      To put three weeks together it’ll be interesting to see if Porte can manage this week, especially to see how his team fares because it’s conceivable he’s in a good place after the TT stage but how to build on this is the big test. This and many questions make the Dauphiné an interesting test.

      • Michael B Saturday, 8 June 2019, 10:03 am

        Yeah, let’s see, he’s been invisible post-TdU. Trek look very light on climbing support too, especially with Pantano’s suspension. Porte must hope Mollema commits to a super domestique role at the Tour.

        • JeroenK Saturday, 8 June 2019, 10:30 am

          Mollema will, as he has allready told journalists he will. Does Ciccone go to the Tour? He was amazing in the Giro. Brambilla? Also solid in the Giro.

          • Michael B Saturday, 8 June 2019, 10:46 am

            Good news on Mollema. I’d assumed Ciccone wouldn’t be going after his Giro efforts but, again, it’s good for the race if he is available.

  • jc Friday, 7 June 2019, 10:18 pm

    By the sounds of it Tom Dumoulin is struggling to be able to finish this race let alone start the Tour, it seems very unlikely he will do much here beyond testing out his injuries. It would not be sensible to risk long term damage to his knee.

    If Chris Froome has the fitness and inclination it is difficult to see anyone else challenging assuming he stays on his bike. Ineos have strongest team in the race by far (though Michelton Scott have a reasonable line up) and the race would seem set up for the traditional “mow em down in the chrono , strangle the race in the mountains” routine.

    Perhaps Adam Yates might surprise, though he is likely to have to go on the attack after the TT if he is to have any chance.

    Maybe Nairo Quintana will rediscover past form but I suspect Mikel Landa could well be the main man come July, that must be causing stress in the camp perhaps not conducive to getting the best from NQ.

  • Kasper Ankjærgaard Friday, 7 June 2019, 11:06 pm

    How come you always spell Jakob Fuglsang with a “c” instead of a “k”?

    Otherwise, you consistently and eagerly spell everything correctly; and you even use the correct “ł” in Michał (Kwiatkowski) and the correct “ž” and “č” in Primož Roglič. To my knowledge, you are the only one to do so.

    Apparently, you must read an awful lot of cycling articles and analyses; you must have wondered why everybody else spells Jakob with a k?

    This is not meant as a criticism; I love your previews and your analyses

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 7 June 2019, 11:58 pm

      Good point. It’s unconscious, perhaps Slavic influences – I can speak Russian and Polish so it makes me think Jakub rather than Jakob. Fixed now… and hopefully noted for July. As ever all corrections, criticism and feedback welcome, think of it as a help for the next reader.

      • Anonymous Saturday, 8 June 2019, 5:48 am

        This is why it’s better to be monolingual and ignorant like me. Too much knowledge can be a harmful thing.

        • Phil Saturday, 8 June 2019, 11:11 am

          Anonymous, you have given yourself away. I now realise that your real name is Karlton Cirby.

          • Anonymous Saturday, 8 June 2019, 11:34 am

            Nailed it!

  • Matt Saturday, 8 June 2019, 7:59 am

    Also highlights show on ITV4 in UK each evening. Cheers

  • RQS Saturday, 8 June 2019, 8:07 am

    Any idea why it’s the Col de Beaune? It’s miles away from the town of the same name.

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 8 June 2019, 12:15 pm

      Beaune is the name of the village near the top… but the real name is the Col de Beau Plan.

  • RQS Saturday, 8 June 2019, 8:16 am

    I can’t help but wonder what Geraint Thomas thinks about this. He won this race and the Tour de France last year, and now he is relegated to the Tour de Suisse. Was he kicked off the roster entirely? Or did he choose to take the Suisse because he could be the outright leader?
    I read his Q&A in Rouleur, and he seemed fully committed to being Froome’s support rider, but deep down he must be gutted. And, to this extent I can only see one outcome to this race, with Froome winning, otherwise the TdF is going to get messy for Ineos.

    • JeroenK Saturday, 8 June 2019, 10:34 am

      Since when is someone ‘relegated’ to the TdS? That race has always been used by some TdF favorites as an alternative to the Dauphiné.

    • Noel Saturday, 8 June 2019, 10:44 am

      I wonder if Froome and Thomas have a ‘I’ll help you get a 5th, then you help me get a 2nd’ pact…..

    • jc Saturday, 8 June 2019, 10:45 am

      The TdS route this year is “harder” than the Dauphine, there are a number of high passes and a finish at the Gotthard.

    • Richard S Saturday, 8 June 2019, 10:52 am

      If Gerraint Thomas was an animal he would be a black Labrador. He’ll do as he’s told and do it gladly as long as he gets a nice bowl of food at the end of the day.

      • Digahole Saturday, 8 June 2019, 11:30 am

        To win the big race I think you have to have a little more mongrel in you than your giving Gerraint credit for there.

        As for the Ineos leadership drama, think it’s more wishful thinking than reality. They’ll go in as co-leaders again, one will: be weaker/crash/get sick/puncture/generally rise to the top, then the other will support. Worked seamlessly last time.
        Sky basically came along and did everything better… and that includes managing egos

        • gabriele Sunday, 9 June 2019, 1:19 pm

          USPostal came first at this, too.
          I suspect that it proves a bit easier when people know how much they depend on the team in order to perform and, even more so, not to incur other sort of troubles.

  • Simmers Saturday, 8 June 2019, 6:04 pm

    This Dauphine (and the Tour itself) has such an outstanding roster of contenders – should be great fun. I’m most interested in seeing what Fuglsang (already discussed above) can do, what shape Bardet and Pinot are in, and hopefully Dumoulin can prove his fitness and build some form.

    Slightly unrelated, and he’ll probably not be at his best next week after altitude training, but I really think Kruijswijk is going to surprise a lot of people this Summer. He’s quietly been very good throughout the Spring and he seems better prepared than ever for a serious GC challenge in the Tour. Wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him up there in the top 5.

  • Kimmer Saturday, 8 June 2019, 9:49 pm

    Hi INRNG,
    Will you have also stage by stage daily coverage?

  • KevinR Saturday, 8 June 2019, 11:06 pm

    Geraint Thomas is no match for Chris Froome in a Grand Tour if both are fully fit and in form. But the question is has Froome reached the age where his powers wane? I think not just yet. So Ineos will no doubt go into the Tour with two leaders with the road, circumstances, health making the final call on gets the full support of the team. Of course, both could have problems and then it’s all in for Bernal!