The Spin: Dauphiné Stage 2

Dauphiné Stage 2

The start and finish are only 25km apart but instead today’s stage does a big loop to borrow the route of one of France’s most popular cyclosport rides, the L’Ardéchoise with over 10,000 riders taking part each year. But there’s nothing amateur about today’s stage.

A series of cols, the profile above shows there’s little flat road in between the climbs and descents. But these diagrams don’t always tell the full story and today is not as mountainous as you might think. Instead here are the numbers:

  • Km 45.0 – Col de Montivernoux – 16.1 km, average 4.2 %
  • Km 95.0 – Col de Clavière – 12.1 km, average 3.7 %
  • Km 108.0 – Col de Rochepaule – 3.6 km, average 4.8 %
  • Km 121.0 – Col de Lalouvesc – 8.7 km, average 5.1 %
  • Km 138.0 – Col de Fontaille – 2.2 km, average 4.9 %
  • Km 160.0 – Saint Félicien – 2.5 km, average 4.4 %

Remember an Alpine climb is typically 7% so these climbs roll faster. To borrow from Greg LeMond, “it doesn’t get any easier, you just go faster“. Climbs like this tend to see the bunch shrink by a process of elimination with riders blown out of the back rather than the leaders attacking each other. Plus the descents today will be technical in places but will also require riders to pedal fast downhill.

The finish: an uphill climb at 4.4% is enough to deter many sprinters. But in addition to this the climb has two tight hairpin bends, one with 1500m to go, the next at the kilometre. Both make perfect places for a late attack.

Likely scenario: a breakaway goes away but we’ll see if it is filled with heavy hitters, riders like Luis Leon Sanchez, Rein Taaramae or Sylvain Chavanel and, or if it’s full of lower tier French riders trying to get TV airtime and impress ahead of Tour de France selection. Today’s finish is less suited to a sprint finish so we’ll see who chases. Will Sky defend the yellow jersey? The answer isn’t yes or no, it depends who is up the road and the gap they have. It is possible there’s a bunch sprint too but this kind of uphill finish will suit a different type of rider. There’s even a chance Cadel Evans strikes again.

Just what is Andy Schleck up to? There’s a piece on titled “Andy Schleck left behind in Saint Vallier” but this suggests passivity. Instead it appeared to me that he actively sat up, that he wasn’t left behind, rather he decided to leave the bunch. Nobody seems to have got a word from him so this can’t be confirmed. Either way he’s said he’s not here for a week of racing but instead wants to test himself on the Col de Joux Plane on Saturday so in some ways he’s asked to be judged by this day rather than yesterday.

If you thought Schleck had a bad day: spare a thought for Lieuwe Westra who finished over four minutes down. He was rivalling Brad Wiggins in Paris-Nice last March, now he’s well off the pace, finishing 157th.

Which translates as “Done my first race. Wasn’t super. No panic, things are under construction”. Time is running out for the building work. Plus of course Samuel Sanchez, Pierrick Fédrigo and Dan Martin all crashed yesterday and sustained injuries. They made it to the finish and are expected to start.

Weather: a pleasant day with sunshine and mild temperatures, the forecast looks unlikely to influence the tactics.

TV: the stage finish is expected for 4.00-4.30pm but don’t tune in for the sprint, aim to track the racing before so you can see the cols and the scenery in one of France’s least populated regions.

Food: chestnuts. Until the arrival of the potato five centuries ago and more organised agriculture, the humble chestnut was a big part of the diet in France. This edible nut was an annual crop but could be saved and even turned into flour for year-round uses, providing vital carbohydrates. Today it is still harvested in this region, indeed on an industrial scale. But it’s no longer a staple but instead a treat used to sweeten cakes or sold as a spread.

23 thoughts on “The Spin: Dauphiné Stage 2”

  1. whether Andy performs well at the Tour or not, he will surely make some cool bucks by writing a book about his stint with JB. When you sit up deliberately in a race, you’re not a racer which is even more troubling than getting dropped. Andy should learn a thing or two about panache from Mr. Cadel Evans. France 3 reporter was almost drooling over Cuddles while interviewing him after the stage win.

    With Wiggo, Nibali, Cuddles, Hesjedal in the Tour, Andy wouldn’t even finish on the podium this time.

    • I was just reading what JB had to say about Andy’s “performance” yesterday on Surprisingly, he wasn’t too upset, basically saying that it’s obvious Andy lacks competition in his legs, but that they are more concerned with him improving as the week goes into the mountains. Winning the Dauphine is not a goal for JB or Andy, but preparation for the Tour is, finding his form in the mountains.

      JB was misinterpreted (he said) with what he meant about possibly leaving Andy at home. Andy will ride the Tour “of course,” he now says. Kim Andersen IS being left at home, though Andy says they’ll talk on the phone everyday. So, who will Andy listen to? Don’t think he has a choice at this point.

      Unless AS becomes an uber-aggressive attacker who looks ahead and not behind and attacks when he’s told to attack, he has no chance to save what’s left of this season and his declining reputation. With Wiggo, Evans and Hesjedal being outstanding TTists and great climbers, Andy’s facing the uphill battle of his career with [realistically] no chance of yellow. To save face he must attack early and often and ride away like on the Galibier. Am I dreaming?

      Vincenzo Nibali has been quietly finding his form and I expect big things from him in a few weeks.
      Knowing he has a big contract with Astana for 2013 will be another motivator…this quiet Italian seems ready to win his first GT! He’ll need to take time in the mountains as a buffer for his TT skills versus the aforementioned riders. Liquigas can surely drive a good pace, we’ll see what they bring to France.

      As for today’s Stage 2: fast, technical and beautiful, all squeezed into 160 km with numerous riders who could take the stage, I see Evans in the mix again, Gilbert possibly finding his uphill punch or EBH showing his diverse prowess like he did last year!

        • @Ronan, Dublin: Nibali has had the TdF #1 priority since the beginning of the season.
          Yes, he has the Vuelta win of 2010, but what does that have to do with contending for yellow in France?

          One problem now, though. Nibali is leaving Liquigas for Astana next season and the sponsor might just want to support Peter Sagan as a sprinter/stage hunter. Sagan has likely the best shot at beating Cavendish in head-to-head sprints, so how much support is given Nibali versus Sagan is a question. Additionally, Sagan can take stage wins in all but the high mountains, so loyalty to Liquigas will count. Relations between Nibali and Liquigas aren’t as rosy as they used to be.

          Team SKY has the same situation, Wiggins and Cav. Who do they throw most of their support behind? It’s got to be be Wiggins, but Cav does have over 20 stage wins and doesn’t disappoint in the TdF.

          It’s almost impossible to aim for both the yellow and green jersey, experts say.

          • @Roadie61 I think Ronan,Dublin mentions the Veulta win because you wrote;

            “…this quiet Italian seems ready to win his first GT!”

  2. Interesting comment from Bradley Wiggins yesterday, when he said it was the least wanted yellow jersey he had ever worn, as he wanted to wear his full skin suit for the time trial. So maybe Sky will not defend it at all costs.
    There has been a comment from Andy Schleck that “he had no power in his legs and no idea what happened on the climb” so maybe everyone should wait before they jump on the all too easy knock the Schlecks bandwagon.
    What are the chances of a break going all the way today?

      • Inrng, maybe it’s Brailford’s marginal gains things for Wiggo. Don’t the skinsuits get given to the Yellow and Blue jersey holder and therefore frequently are not that well fitted?

        PS I’d love a piece in the TdF (if you have the time etc) on what it takes to make the leader the ‘leader’ regarding all the special colour bikes, kit etc and how the teams/suppliers prepare for it

      • It goes from bad to worse with Andy Schleck. Yesterday in the department of Drôme was his dream to win the Tour 2012, perhaps for good punctured.He was 3’10 “in later than Cadel Evans, the man he will soon be battling uphill on the Road Tour.
        It was extremely quiet on the Place du Champ de Mars in Saint-Vallier when Andy Schleck are white Trek Madone bike against the bus and put the fly in the doorway jump. What further stepped Johan Bruyneel from the follow-Nissan car from RadioShack Trek. Equipped with dark glasses, behind which the succesman hid his emotions behind Lance Armstrong. Inside boiled Bruyneel.De two had not spoken to each other about what had occurred on the Côte de Sizeranne, a molehill of 344 meters. Or 2.9 km uphill with an average slope of 6.6 percent. Sizeranne a real giant killer.

        “This scenario we did not expect,” said Bruyneel. “I think it’s a lack of competition rhythm. Kan dat volstaan als uitleg? Will that suffice as an explanation? This is not disaster, but it is better that such things do not happen. Andy has a bit of time to the Tour Start but mircales do not exist in this sport. This is worrying. ”

        “Later we will only wiser ‘
        In the prologue about 5,700 meters Sunday in Grenoble lost Andy Schleck also Wiggins for 28 seconds and 23 seconds on Evans. Thursday in the trial to Bourg-en-Bresse about 53.5 kilometers minutes to throw his opponents with his head.

        “I refuse to draw conclusions from such a prologue,” said Bruyneel. “His position on the bike was good. From this result, I learned nothing here but what happened on that last climb, is something entirely different. At the end of this week we will be much wiser. Then we know exactly whether it is a lack of competition rhythm. ”

        Bruyneel went into the coach where Andy Schleck is in hiding for the journalists. At spokesman Philippe Maertens, he stated that the lack of competition is the reason for this swansong. ‘ “Andy is not looking for any excuses. I did not feel he paniced. Though he of course is not having fun. ”

        The default of the past two days is in addition to statements back and forth between Bruyneel and the Schlecks showing that the marriage but continues to crack. “I do not know what I must now tell Andy,” said Bruyneel. “If you as a climber lose uphill , you have enough food for thought.”

  3. I like the fact he speaks his mind and has no interest in playing the PR game. If I was his DS, I’d be wincing every time he opens his mouth, but as a viewer, I like it.
    In the interview I just heard, it definitely sounded like it was the fit/aerodynamics/sweat management he was worried about. Maybe he’ll come out in an Adidas-made lo coq branded skin suit?!

  4. So what would Wiggo wear if he was in Yellow during the tour TT?
    Might be a good chance to get some practice in the Le Coq Sportif Skinsuit.

  5. I think Andy Schleck and Frank look as if they’ve been simply going through the motions this year. Clearly Johan Bruyneel is not their cup of tea and the changes over the summer were not in their favour. I would suggest that a dissapointing season will be followed by significant changes during the winter i.e. maybe a change of teams perhaps. It will probably come to a head around the time of the tour.
    It was good to see Cadel have a good go yesterday. I think it might well have been tactically planned to put Sky under pressure early on. With Wiggo, Porte, Rogers, Froome etc it remains to be seen if BMC can perform in the high mountains against such a strong team.

    • You summarize the Schleck-Bruyneel disaster very well. I think that most has been said already about this, and nothing short of a team change can fix things. Now we just wait and see how all plays out in the next few weeks. It can’t end pretty, that’s for sure.

      Cadel is in the driver’s seat as is Wiggins. Both in excellent form with strong team support. As far as BMC performing in the high mountains, Hincapie will ride himself into the ground for Cadel; and their other domestiques should be strong as well.

      We also know that Evans rides quite well on the wheels of other team’s riders. He’s not a chronic
      wheel-sucker, but if he loses teammates in the high mountains he sometimes has no other choice. And if he has the legs to ride away, he will, but he tends to match accelerations/attacks by other riders. If there’s anything left in the tank for the line, we know he’ll give 150%.

  6. We saw yesterday the importance of downhill bike-handling and gusto. Evans gave a warning for the Tour. Maybe Nibali will show something today?
    Anyway, this stage would have been better in reverse mode, finishing in Lamastre.

  7. As an aside, Matt Keenan (commentator on Australia’s coverage of SBS) is a reader of inrng…he mentioned one of the jokes from here last night about Schleck and Vino riding together

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