Dauphiné Stage 5 Preview

The stage we’ve all been waiting for. The race heads for the mountains and the Col d’Allos before the Pra Loup summit finish, a copy of Stage 17 of next month’s Tour de France. A hard day but an introduction to the mountains as Saturday stage is harder.

Stage 4 Wrap: some days there’s a race on and some days there’s a ride. Lotto-Soudal’s Tosh van der Sande and Lotto-Jumbo’s Martijn Keizer went clear early on and led a procession for the best part of 200 kilometres across the landscape. But the pair kept their minds and with this, kept some energy so they could accelerate in late in the stage just when the bunch thought it had the better of them. This caused panic in the peloton and the chase picked up. It made for a lively final 20km as a series of attacks provided suspense. Tim Wellens had the longest move but Tony Martin, Wilco Kelderman, Romain Bardet and Vincenzo Nibali were all on manoeuvres. But the flat run-in and work by MTN-Qhubeka meant a bunch sprint and Nacer Bouhanni won.

Nacer Bouhanni

Two stage wins in three days, is Bouhanni set for the Tour de France? He’s the fastest in the race but there’s not much opposition, Jonas van Genechten is a very infrequent winner and Luka Mezgec has the Giro in his legs. Mark Cavendish, Alexander Kristoff, Marcel Kittel and many more, including Arnaud Démare, are a bigger threat. But Bouhanni says he’s only resumed racing in the Tour of Bavaria and is riding the Dauphiné to get used to the mountains so if he’s winning now he’s got plans to be better by July.

The Route: 161km, a saw-tooth profile with the 2,250m Col d’Allos before a ski-station summit finish. Sure it’s a mountain stage but the early climbs are steady and there’s “only” 3,700 vertical metres, it’s not the 5,000m you can get on a savage day. But the route is stunning as it crosses the southern Alps

  • Km 40.0 – Col des Lèques, 6 kilometre-long climb at 5.3% – category 3
  • Km 67.0 – Col de Toutes Aures, 6.1 kilometre-long climb at 3.1% – category 3
  • Km 96.0 – Col de la Colle-Saint-Michel, 11 kilometre-long climb at 5.2% – category 2
  • Km 139.0 – Col d’Allos, 14 kilometre-long climb at 5.5% – category 1
  • Km 161.0 – Pra Loup, 6.2 kilometre-long climb at 6.5% – category 2

The Col d’Allos is a long climb, 14km at 5.5% doesn’t sound like much but the last 5km are 7-8% and 10% in places at over 1,800m above sea level. The descent is very difficult. Much is made of the Allos-Pra Loup combo because in 1975 it was here that Bernard Thévenet cracked Eddy Merckx. But on the descent of the Allos the Bianchi team car flew off the road into a ravine. It’s 15km downhill and if it’s not steep there are plenty of bends.

The Finish: 6.2km at 6.5%. The road kicks up from the start so riders had better spin their legs on the descent. It’s not a hard finish at all, a wide regular road with even slopes for the most part and wide hairpin bends, a classic ski station access road. That said the graphic above from ASO misses out a sustained 10% ramp on the way up.

The Contenders: Alejandro Valverde is the prime pick for three reasons. First, he was driving his team in the time trial stage which suggests he’s in form. Second, he’s a wily rider with a handy sprint which is why he wins so often. Third, he’s also got a strong team riding in his service. Many are looking to see what Chris Froome will do. He too was visibly raring to go in the team time trial and he’s obviously known for his climbing. This is a good chance to go for the win with a late attack.

Nibali 2015

What can Vincenzo Nibali do? He’s famous for his descending skills and the Col d’Allos is the perfect place for an attack because there’s no valley road to ruin a solo rider’s chances before the final climb. Astana are serious about this race with a big team and they’ve even got Nibali’s coach Paolo Slongo riding shotgun in the team car this week.

Joaquim Rodriguez too has a fast finish or rather he used to. He’s not finding the wins so easy these days. Instead if there’s a sprint from a small group Simon and Adam Yates both pack a fast finish. Today will be a big test so it’ll be interesting to see what they can do. Romain Bardet too is a contender and if he was climbing with the best in the recent Tour de Romandie, he’s since done a mountain training camp, his problem is the tendency to attack too soon when he possesses a good sprint.

There’s a whole host of riders next who might not win the stage but it’ll be interesting to see their form. Bauke Mollema of Trek Factory Racing has been invisible so far while former team mate Wilco Kelderman has been a lot more obvious: today is when it counts. Andrew Talansky can climb very well but we don’t know much about his form. Compatriot Tejay van Garderen should ride well but he’s going to be very heavily marked given his position on GC; team mate Rohan Dennis will surely lose the jersey but it’ll be interesting to see if it’s by placing count-back, seconds… or minutes. Rui Costa should like the steady climb to the finish.

For three outsiders see Pierre Rolland, Mathias Frank and Louis Meintjes. Rolland and Europcar bombed as expected in the team time trial but their climber has room to attack now although I think he really wants Stage 7. IAM Cycling’s Frank is a good climber and reportedly one of the strongest in the time trial. Meintjes climbs well and will be given some space.

Otherwise it’s a hard day for a breakaway to stay away. The Col d’Allos is such a strategic point that teams will be setting the pace to this climb and most of the way up it. But perhaps yesterday’s collective refusal to attack with only two riders going clear meant more were thinking about today?

Alejandro Valverde
Chris Froome, Romain Bardet, Andrew Talansky, Yates x 2
Rui Costa, Nibali, Rodriguez, Frank, Mollema, Kelderman, Rolland, Vuillermoz, Scarponi

Weather: sunshine and clouds with a top temperature of 30°C in the valleys and cooler at altitude.

TV: we’re back to the early configuration with the Col d’Allos starting around 1.45 Euro time and the finish forecast for 2.45pm.

It’s an ASO race so you should find it on the same channel as you watch the Tour de France. It’s on Eurosport too and if all else fails you can rely on Cyclingfans and steephill.tv for links to feeds and streams.

50 thoughts on “Dauphiné Stage 5 Preview”

  1. I wonder if Meintjes will be going for the mountains jersey? He sneaked a few points the other day and something tells me that Daniel T. is a strategic early move to prevent others from gaining too many points.

  2. Always impressed by & enjoy watching riders such as Tosh Van der Sande, seemingly out for the count on the last Cat. climb but depleting all of his energy to help out teammate Tim Wellens.

      • Lotto-Soudal has shown very good tactics both in Pa-Ni and in the classics. One could say they didn’t achieve much – but maybe they achieved more than what would have been granted by a more conservative strategy, given the men they’ve got.
        It looks like they sent Wellens up the road today. Curious. Let’s see.

  3. Winning is maybe more important than anything else right now for Nacer Bouhanni. It probably doesn’t matter so much at this stage against whom he is winning, it is more about confidence and having finally some good times for the team. When you have a whole team working hard for you and you can’t finish the job, the pressure is high and gets higher with every loss. Going to smaller races to get back the feeling of a win was risky, because if you don’t win there, it can make things much, much worse. But it seems they got it working just in time. So I’d say these two wins are definitely a big step towards more wins in July for Nacer Bouhanni.

  4. It’ll be interesting to see the composition of today’s break. If there’s a strong Astana domestique in there, we might get treated to a Nibali attack on descent of the Allos to test Froome’s nerve. Likewise for Moviestar and Valverde.

    • I was looking forward to the same possibilities, but I’m wondering now if they maybe don’t want to spoil the “surprise” – really, not that big a a surprise – before the Tour.
      On one hand, it’s like anticipating what you mean to do, which is never good.
      On the other hand, as you suggest, a lot of mind games could be involved here: if Froome has troubles today, the pression will be even greater during the Tour (anyway, I think that Froome is not that bad a descender as many are lead to believe by his relatively poor bike handling in other circumstances; he sure isn’t great, for physical reasons, too, but he endured a good number of downhill attacks along time); but also if a middle-range attack shouldn’t prove itself dangerous today, it could result in a building-up of false confidence towards July among rivals. Like, let’s avoid taking risks and allow him some space, we’ve seen he’s not going anywhere.
      That said, remembering a significant number of Nibali’s downhill attacks when he ended up hitting the ground, I’m quite afraid that karma may be lingering over here…

      • You’re right, he’s not a bad descender, he’s worse in the bunch and in wet and/or wind. But I think some will be certainly interested to put a chink in his psyche, maybe Movistar more than Astana

        • I fancy Nibali today. He’s been keeping his powder very dry all season, had a bit of a dart in the Ardennes, but other than that everything seems to have been geared for July.

    • Changed the world “also” to “third” to make it clearer. He’s got a good team around him which is an extra bonus for him. There’s a time bonus today and he’s got helpers to close gaps or reel in attacks if need be.

  5. Yep, I agree with Inrng that today should be a day for Valverde. Pra Loup is not really a test (relatively speaking) and the long, difficult descent beforehand plays into his hands. Plus he always has his kick at the end to rely on in a sprint. Those 10 bonus seconds will be calling out his name. If I were him I’d be aiming to get there some seconds ahead of Froome and make him have to drag it back.

  6. looking fwd to seeing whether Sky revert to the mountain train, or try their more recent ‘throw a rider up the road’ tactic (I hope they don’t do their Giro style ‘hang around in 20th spot while other teams make it happen’ thing…).

    • If the Secret Pro is right (see the Cycling Tips website), then Sky and many other teams were ‘hanging around’ in 20th spot because a ‘well-prepared’ Astana team were taking up the first nine places of many stages…

      • Secret Pro was writing pure rubbish, at least according to what has been reported here (“I haven’t seen some six of these guys that high on GC before”, for example); thus, quoting him isn’t a good service at all for cycling information.
        Besides, Team Sky got 3rd in final Team Classification, and without having on the road their official road captain & in-form man for a great deal of the race, hence you’d suspect that their preparation as such wasn’t that worse than Astana’s.
        Being able to manage a complex race like the Giro is another matter, maybe in years to come they’ll get a grasp on that.

        • There are lies, damned lies, etc etc, so it is true Gabriele that Sky were 3rd in the Giro teams classifaction but it’s also worth mentioning that they were over an hour and 13 minutes down. I know time gaps at the end of GT’s can be big but it hardly puts Sky in the same ball park as Astana.

          • What counts for team classification are the results of a team’s three best riders on each stage. The task of recalculating an alternative final team classification strikes me as tedious work, but I would assume that if we’d replace the result of Aru/Nieve/Kangert (take your pick) with the result of the fourth best Astana rider beginning from the stage in which Porte was effectively out of the race, we would be uch in the same ball park as Sky.

          • o__O
            Have you ever read a Team Classification? It’s not the fact of being at the end of a GT in itself, it’s about those classifications do suppose a different world in terms of time gaps. Total time is about 265h, 1h13′ is a 0,4% of that.
            If you’re surprised by that 1h13′, you should also observe that the 5th team in Team Classification is another 1h13’… behind Sky. 5th out of 22 teams.
            The 10th team is three and half an hour… behind Sky. The average time difference is 5h31′ behind Astana.
            Hence, to start with, we can say that *maybe* Astana was playing a game apart (mutiple factors to explain that besides doping), but it was quite a similar game when compared to BMC, Sky and Movistar, with an at least equally great jump to Cannodale, Lotto, Tinkoff or Katusha, and a *double step* over all the rest. The ball park is quite differently shaped, isn’t it?
            I suppose you imagine that Sky or BMC or Movistar can inflict *those same gaps* – or greater – to other teams without recurring to doping, whereas Astana has no chance to inflict them a comparable or smaller gap… without being overdoped. Quite logical.
            But, hey, do you know another big difference? Astana had two top GC contenders, which is obviously mirrored by their Team Classification. Movistar at least had Amador. But BMC and Sky best placed GC men were 8th and 6th, which says volume about their collective performance (uhmm, yes, Porte was useful… while he stayed in).
            All this without even starting to compare rosters.
            Because, you know, a better team will by definition inflict time gaps even in a clean world.
            To make this clear: I wouldn’t defend the fact that Astana *is clean*, but the kind of arguments that are being sorted out to accuse them, especially in comparison with others, is the flimsiest ever.

          • Firstly, yes, I do understand the team classification. I was only implying that the gaps are always large by the end of a GT. That was the point about statistics. 3rd makes it seem like they were close, 1 hour 13 makes it seem like they weren’t. The truth is often somewhere inbetween.

            Secondly, I was making no comment about the performance of either Astana or Sky and whether they were ‘legal’ or not. A comment had been made and you’d said it was pure rubbish and backed it up by the coming 3rd stat. What Sky had to do with the initial comment is beyond me but there you go.

            Can I say that I’m not sure if your initial way of questioning my knowledge of the team prize was meant to be facetious/condescending but I can say that’s the way it comes across.

          • @Larrick
            I can’t know how familiar you are with a not-so-immediate classification as the one for teams. Neither could I say if your comment was ingenuous or intended to take advantage of others’ ignorance to make some point.
            Since my comment was replying about = Sky’s supposed bad performance being due to ‘well-prepared’ Astana =, it’s equally ingenuous or manipulative to imagine that any reference to ‘putting Sky in the same ball park’ wouldn’t be inserted in that context.
            Besides, I wasn’t “backing up” my definition of the Secret Pro’s sentence as rubbish with the 3rd place fact, as you could note by that “Besides” – it was just a side note.
            I thought that the results achieved in GC by Astana riders had been reported enough times not to require any further axplication about why that sentence was pure misinformation. Apparently, I was wrong, and I’ll insist on it again below.

            What I wanted to underline is that team classification is way different from the individual one, not only from a quantitative point of view. You need to analyse it in order to understand it. And, in that sense “3rd (out of 22)”, at least in this case, is a better synthetic index than “1h13′ down”.
            Citing 1h13′ “makes it seem like” (as you say) huge, but if you read the whole classification, it isn’t at all. Using that data means you’re implying all readers are confident with all the numbers implied. Whereas if you compare the “global situation” (which I had to analyse lengthy in my answer, because of your post) and the generic concept of “third place” we may commonly have, I think it’s someway less of a distortion.

            But this is all opinion, anyway.

            The true problem is that you can’t put in the same boat my observation about placing – nor yours about time gaps – with the Secret Pro’s, which is indeed, rubbish, if it has been reported correctly (I’m making an exception here and not checking the primary source – not to give clicks to that kind of product).

            It’s somewhere between laughable and shameful to say outright that you haven’t seen a lot of Astana’s guys that high on GC ever before when the likes of Cataldo, Rosa, Kangert were *mimicking* nearly the same exact GC positions (!) they achieved not further than a couple of years ago, some of them with different teams. Tiralongo and Sánchez (also with different teams) were able to do even better, top-tens in Vuelta and top-15 in Giro or Tour. Didn’t the Secret Pro notice or is he just spreading lies?
            Out of curiosity, both Zeits and Malacarne (the latter with different teams) have previously achieved better GC placings than this year in all three the GTs, Giro, Vuelta and Tour. So, we’re left with Aru, who indeed never made second before (yeah, he was just third as far as last year) and Landa, about whom I agree he made a *big jump*, albeit long-expected.

          • Gabriel

            I’m not sure what to say to all of that, especially on the basis that you seem to be responding to things I haven’t said. I think you need to check the names of the postings as the only thing I’d mentioned was about stats and their ease of manipulation. I think you’ll find you brought up Sky as well. A gentle poke I know but maybe if you wrote less it would be easier to keep track 🙂

            Fwiw, I agree that the Team Classification is not a good indicator of anything much. For starters any domestique who’s completed their role will coast in unless the team is actually trying to win that competition.

            On another point, you seem to be saying that you didn’t read The Secret Pro piece but are saying it’s rubbish anyway. It might be worth a click to Cycling Tips to put what was said into perspective. You’ll see that though there’s an obvious implication riders are ‘performing’ above expectations, it also reads that the Giro is just really hard and Astana putting in so much pace during the first week didn’t help.

          • Larrick,

            nonsense going on, but I’d just observe that a thread is formed by comments and replies. You named Sky, indeed, because I named them because GeoffBumble named them because noel named them. A certain shift notably happened in GeoffBumble’s post.
            Hence, what I write and what you answer (“it hardly puts Sky in the same ball park as Astana”) lies in that context. I’m keeping track of the thread, are you?
            There are two problems with the Secret Pro: one is general and has been described elsewhere by other readers, besides me; the other is specific and relative to a single sentence which is simply false. Just as the fact that they were ‘overperforming’ as a team, no matter the perspective.
            PS Try and apply what you wrote about Team Classification to a team with two GC top riders 😉 (also worth remembering that only the three best placed riders in every stage count for TC, or something like that)

  7. Just in case Nibali puts in one of his Rollandesque (relatively) out-of-form attacks, I’d be curious to see how Movistar would react.
    They could be the best allies for Froome in July, if they go on fancying about Valverde’s stage wins as a priority (remember the isolated 2013 Froome?).
    That is, Valverde could be a trouble for Quintana’s Tour bid not only as a second GC captain whose necessities may be taken into account even in case of partial conflict with Quintana’s (let’s suppose, for example, that they decide not to rise the rhythm on a climb to keep Valverde around…), but he could also represent a problem as a stage hunter if Movistar decided to shut down long/medium range attacks in complicated stages, instead of leaving the work to others, or even participating in those same attacks (it has always been quite a good weapon in Quintana’s arsenal).
    On the other hand, Valverde could be a good reason to foster that kind of medium range offensive, ’cause he could be sitting on the wheels of the chasers.
    I guess it’s a matter of *attitude* (Basso and CSC working for Lance anyone?), and that’s why I’m curious about their tactics here, even if Quintana is not racing, which obviously changes a lot. However, although Pra Loup is short and really not that hard, it has got a couple of steep enough stretches where Froome could get away with a whirl of pedals if he’s in winning form; and Sky usually prefers to settle things about the GC ASAP (albeit Andalusía hints at a different strategy). I don’t know if Movistar should be that confident.
    Valverde is a good descender, hence if someone else makes the first move, I’d be happier to see him in Roma Maxima / Strade Bianche / Mallorca / San Sebastián mode than in his usual sticky tracker style.

    • “Love-in” is a matter of perspective, there are your own opinions, and of course if you read most English language cycling journalism you’re going to see an unsurprising focus on Anglo riders. As for expectations, that’s a little harder to dispute, both Yates brothers have ridden to solid top 10s in hard, climb-heavy stage races like this one, so it’s not uncontroversial to suggest that this will continue. Plus they’re both only 22 and half way through their second year as WT pros, so lots of people are interested in what they can accomplish.

      I think INRNG, unlike many other cycling websites, does an excellent job of covering riders from all nationalities so this isn’t like the US media backing He Who Shall Not Be Named for all those years or the UK’s obsession with anything Team Sky related or British.

      • I’ll second that last para: most of the British media seems to be a newsletter for Sky. Mind you the sponsor does own a large chunk of it so what do you expect?

          • i hadn’t noticed it being that bad in France but then I only read l’ equipe anyway. Yes they do talk about how the top French guys are doing but not to the exclusion of all else – but again maybe l’equipe is atypical.

      • inrng is very neutral in that aspect, he anyway seems to be very multilingual in german you would say a “weltbürger”. its just the comment section that sometimes is a bit lopsided towards the anglos

    • The author of this blog normally does an impressively fine job with the picks (more so than many paid professional commentators), and Simon Yates performance in this stage and even more so the day after shows the picks were on the money once again.

  8. it does seem like the team have chosen this race to give the brothers a shot at a hilly stage so I think it’s fair they get a mention as possibles (not probables)

  9. Looking forward to Froome asking Nibali to slow down on the descent….

    Another reason for Valverde – what other races is he targeting this year?

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