Dauphiné Stage 5 Preview

Many riders have marked today as the obvious day for a breakaway. With over 100 riders now over 10 minutes down on GC  riders there are a lot of riders with a ticket to ride but only one winner awaits in La Mure.

Stage 4 Wrap
A breakaway win for Katusha’s Yuri Trofimov. Riding for Bouygues Télécom (now Europcar) he won a stage of the Dauphiné in a similar way in 2008, waiting for the final climb before going solo and then descending to the finish line but it was last summer’s Tour de France that was more instructive. He said he remembered the Col de Manse and the need to sit tight during the early part before using the steeper sections to distance his rivals. National stereotypes are risky things but Trofimov is the archetypal Russian racer: a stony-faced stoic. He crossed the line with his jersey unzipped – no matter, Katusha’s sponsors aren’t in for the publicity – and seemed underwhelmed by the media attention following his win.

The Route

  • Km 68.5 – Col de Manse, 6.6 kilometre-long climb at 6.2% – category 2
  • Km 100.0 – Côte du Motty, 2.3 kilometre-long climb at 8.1% – category 3
  • Km 125.5 – Côte du Pont-Haut, 2.7 kilometre-long climb at 7.4% – category 3
  • Km 135.0 – Col de Malissol, 2 kilometre-long climb at 8.8% – category 3
  • Km 149.5 – Col de la Morte, 3.1 kilometre-long climb at 8.4% – category 2
  • Km 169.0 – Côte de Laffrey, 6.3 kilometre-long climb at 6.2% – category 2

Beaucoup cols offer the chance to challenge Kévin Réza’s mountain points lead. The first is the Col de Manse and surely an ideal place for a cycling enthusiast to live. The Dauphiné came through yesterday and so did the Tour de France last year; and twice too. Today’s stage is similar to the first half of Stage 18 from the Tour last year. We start with the Manse and then the race crosses the Valbonnais, the heart of the French Alps. The Côte du Motty – better labelled as the Rampe du Motty last summer – is just one of several short climbs.

The race reaches the finish in La Mure after 128km but heads out for a 61.5km finishing loop. It’s here that the hard work begins with the Col de Malissol and Col de la Morte offering tough climbs. The official distances listed above underestimate the length of the climb, the Col de la Morte for example is really double the length but the steeper slopes are reserved for the top where the race approaches the modest ski station and a short flat section across the plateau. Then follows a long and fast descent under tree cover with a series of hairpins.

When the route was announced the deadly Laffrey stood out. But it’s not the Rampe, the infamous accident site. Instead the race doesn’t drop down to the valley floor, instead it hugs a tiny balcony road. 6km at 6% average doesn’t do it justice, the road is irregular, rough and narrow and steeper in places, the opposite of average. There are 20km to go over the top as the race picks up a larger road to the finish.

The Finish: the race heads across the small town of La Mure before doubling back. The final corner is at 250m to go and a tight turn, the winner will need to be near the front of the group in this bend.

The Scenario / Contenders: this is the day for a breakaway. There are now over 100 riders more than 10 minutes down on Chris Froome meaning they pose no threat to Chris Froome et al.

Thomas Voeckler tried an attack yesterday on the Col de Manse. With Yuri Trofimov 2m30s up the road it looked idiotic and Voeckler was quickly caught and dropped. But what if there was a point to it and he was pretending to be out of shape, putting on a show only to “explode” just in front of the peloton and TV?

As for the others today’s winner needs climbing legs so discount those without a mountain pedigree. With a scattergun let’s name Arthur Vichot, Winner Anacona and Ramunas Navardauskas but these are random picks. If you’re tempted to pick Simon Gerrans it’s a good call but tomorrow’s preview will explain why he’s a shoe-in for Stage 6. If Katusha are having a good time, why not Egor Silin? The Russian was a top U-23 rider and poached from under the nose of Katusha to ride for Astana but bombed for two years but now he’s looking back.

If the breakaway fails the default picks are Tony Gallopin and Adam Yates, both are able to follow the GC guys and win the sprint from the group.

Thomas Voeckler
Arthur Vichot, Giovanni Visconti, Winner Anacona, Ramunas Navardauskas
Gallopin, Yates, Silin, Westra

Weather: another hot and sunny day but a touch cooler with the altitude with a max of 3o°C (86°F).

TV: The finish is forecast for 2.45pm Euro time.

It’s live on French TV and Eurosport which means there should be a stream to watch, see cyclingfans.com and steephill.tv for a feed. The racebook says it’s around the world including NBC in the US and SBS in Australia. Subscribe properly rather than use a pirate feed and you’ll be treated to HD images.

Do: read the piece by Paul Kimmage that mentions the Côte de Laffrey as he describes former RMO team mate Thierry Claveyrolat, the “Eagle of Vizille”. I’ve linked to it before and will link to it again as it’s a powerful story.

Don’t: bring back a rider from a team imposed rest/suspension with little accompanying information. Nobody knew exactly why Sergio Henao was stopped from racing and now, having been shrouded in doubt, nobody knows what’s convinced the scientists and the team that he’s ok to return to the Tour de Suisse. Sharing the data with the UCI and WADA’s laudable but as well as science there’s a PR battle and with it the team needs to convince those who don’t wear lab coats, especially the French public.

Team Sky have probably missed a pedagogic trick to inform and even bore fans with scientific lectures on values, both haematological and educational. The team said in a press release they hope that in due course a paper will be released but in today’s world of social media judgement and with the Tour de France just weeks away, hoping an academic paper might appear in due course is asking fans and sceptics alike to trust the team. Currently much of the news about Team Sky comes from the outside, Wiggins told L’Equipe he was unlikely to ride the Tour de France and the same newspaper got the scoop Henao could lead in the Tour de Suisse.

38 thoughts on “Dauphiné Stage 5 Preview”

  1. I read the piece by Kimmage. Sad stuff indeed. I’ve come to perhaps a similar conclusion that sport is what it is, no more than that. We try to imbue it with more meaning but the essential qualities you possess determine your life, not what transpires on the road or field of dreams.

    • It’s an interesting story, would Claveyrolat’s life have turned out any different if he’d not been a professional cyclist? Or did the experience change his perception of things? But maybe we should not speculate too much, he might have had problems, say, depression, for years.

  2. Really powerful and tragic piece about Thierry. Likely that many retired pro athletes–not only in cycling– face similar hardships but their stories aren’t written up by journalists like Kimmage.

    Would like to see more action from the top GC contenders but I know this won’t likely happen. This chess-like stalemate is the boring reality of modern day team racing.

  3. For an academic paper to have any credibility it needs to be published in a reputable, peer-reviewed journal. Even with advance online publication, the review and response process means it usually takes anywhere from 6-18 months for it to be published.

    • Was about to make the same point but you said it better. Unless it’s published its not a paper so this will happen at the speed of academia not the media.

    • I suppose a rushed preview could go up on somthing like arXive, but can’t see that being in the interest of the scientists involved. Does anybody know which team or PI from Sheffield led the study, or indeed who funded it?

    • Well spotted. I’ll trump that perhaps and say the Mavic gruppo RMO used was innovative, well engineered and the crankset was very aesthetically pleasing. My 305 headset sadly gave up the ghost just few years ago but I still have some LMS pedals.

  4. I think it is far too simple and easy to criticize SKY for their action over the Heneo case. The team took precautions after internal vetting showed some kind of unexplained anomaly. Remember they have already become victim of the potential actions taken by JTL. As AJW correctly points out, a peer reviewed publication, in a reputable journal takes time. It would not help the process if SKY gave their own PR related slant. I suggest patience is required, as in all these cases. The real question this should raise is, if the problem does turn out to be altitude related, and we don’t yet know the answer to that, why have other teams not taken similar action.

  5. Surely only the detail needs to be in the academic paper. Sky could easily issue a statement giving a ballpark justification for the reinstatement, with suitable caveats. Or is that the problem? The caveats would just give rise to more suspicion and innuendo, so their PR think it’s just easier to say nothing.

    • I suppose from their perspective, the PR thought that whatever they say in a statement will give rise to questions for more details, and so on. At some point, they’ll end up replicating what’s in the paper before it’s been properly reviewed. So they’ll end up with a load of detail that might not be supported in the long-run. In those circumstances, better just wait for the paper to be properly reviewed?

      Don’t agree that it’s the way to go myself; they should give at least some detail now.

      • Well, they should already be in possession of some conclusive details, if they claim to have been able to make an informed decision. The question is why they don’t share everything they know so far.

        • Why didnt they just say he had a knee injury which is why he wasnt racing…that’s the perennial favourite excuse for teams as to why riders are out of action…

          No questions asked, then…

  6. I consider that SKY have acted in totally correct and open manner, given the circumstances in their dealing with the Heneo issue, and should be applauded. It would make little sense to publish or make public information which has still to go through an academic peer review. The reviewers could well ask for additional data, disagree with the data interpretation, recommend the paper is not published or change or modify the conclusion. I know because I have suffered the indignity of all these circumstances at different times !

    Where would that leave SKY ?

    • Well, they could start by publishing what specific findings with regard to Henao were problematic in the first place. No one really knows what the problem’s been, you can hardly call that open.

      • Because you dont go ahead and publish an individual’s confidential data in that manner, especially as a ‘this is what worried us’…

        • …and leave it hanging there, for the world and his dog to then grab, run off with, and then opine on with all the associated ‘conclusions’ – which will only have one likely effect on the individual in question, and his name and reputation.

  7. As the editor of an academic journal, I can almost guarantee an authoritative, peer-reviewed paper will take 6-18 months to publish, will be full of details and technical jargon, and … boring for the average person to read. Details are necessary to document the conclusions. But, there are things Sky can do in the meantime.

    We have a rider who was not allowed to ride, but now is allowed. Why? A brief summary of Sky’s reasoning would put them on record as having made a reasoned decision based upon the best information at the time. If the subsequent paper supports this reasoning, fine. If not, Sky would still be blameless.

    • I tend to agree with this. The findings can be peerreviewed further in due course but a scientific study on one individual is always going to be a bit anecdotal. With this in mind, a “here’s what we noticed, so we did the following and have since seen X, Y and Z” would be useful.

  8. SKY? I’ll never trust these characters no matter what excuses or explanations they come up with. They were the ones who’d have us believe ALL those riders and staff they hired with the dodgy pasts somehow artfully concealed it all from them…until the clever mavens at SKY suddenly discovered it all …once the Yellow Jersey off Wiggo’s back was framed and hanging in the office. Then of course the dodgy characters were all sacked amid fanfare and back slapping about how “zero-tolerance” and clean the team was…the same team that doled out opiates in those so-called finishing bottles. I can’t help but smell a fishy odor around this team, no matter how many dope tests they pass and how loudly they proclaim their innocence.

  9. Larry. Although I agree with you on many issues, on this one you are simply wrong. I am no sky fanboy, but I believe Brailsford and his team are trying their best to do the correct thing in difficult circumstances. He has had to learn quickly about the inner workings and characters of road sport from scratch, and in the process loose his innocence. I just wish other teams tried as hard to clear up our messed up sport. Why are distractors so intent on accusing sky of misdeeds without a shred of evidence, and give a pass to other teams with a decidedly more questionable attitude and past.

    • …err, sorry, instead of the ever excellent Inring, did I somehow push the wrong button and find myself at cyclingnews coments again?….. I promised myself never to do that anymore, it undermines my faith in humanity and any proof of man´s “intelligence”…. 😉

    • Brailsford has been in the game for long enough. Riders dope at the track just as often as the road. Larry doesn’t like Sky, so he thinks they’re dopers. You’re a fan, so you defend them. It’s almost impossible to be objective.

      But, to both of you; I doubt that there is a single person working in the sport, or any sport, that doesn’t have a working knowledge of how to cheat. Who is and who isn’t a cheater is impossible to discern from press releases, rumour, and two bit reporting.

  10. BC, I agree the Sky seems to be doing what they can, but I find that you, like too many people in the English speaking world forget about the French teams and their battle against the sports’ doping traditions. I might be wrong here, but I seem to remember that the blood passport program was originally initiated by MPCC, an organization that initially consisted of mainly French teams (and of which Team Sky for some reason have yet to join). I’m not saying the Sky organization is as dirty as the trolls might believe, though neither do I believe they are the white shiny knights that many proclaim them to be. To conclude, anti-doping in cycling existed before Sky came along, and Sky have not necessarily contributed all that much. It’s not Sky vs the dirty dopers

    • I have a sceptical view re MPCC, but otherwise some fair comments there, Havard. Though not all French teams, remember – look at some of the shenanigans in Cofidis in Millar’s time…

      Garmin led the way on testing within teams. They were a founding member of MPCC, and led the movement to put pressure on the UCI to introduce the ‘no needles’ policy (though to be fair, British Cycling have had that policy in place for many years).

      The pressure on the UCI to be the guinea pig sports governing body to introduce the bio passport, came from WADA and the IOC, not the MPCC.

    • It wasn’t the MPCC but in the wake of the Festina scandal in 1998 the French Federation and some teams supported the idea of a primitive blood passport, screening riders with regular tests to look for anomalies. It was rejected by the UCI.

      • I guess you’re both right, like I said I don’t really know the details here.

        My point was simply that I don’t believe the english/american teams to be as morally superior as some make them out to be, though I guess they have an advantage in having less history in the sport from the get-go

        In the end it’s a pretty banal observation, I just get fired up sometimes

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