Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 2 Preview

A ski station summit finish? Yes… but… we’ll see. Today’s stage does have an uphill run to a finish in a ski station but it’s more of a medium mountain stage and one of those days where it’s up to the teams to decide on the finish and whether they want a sprint among 60 riders or a shoot-out between the GC names.

Stage 1 Wrap: an inevitable sprint and if the breakaway was doomed it was good to see Mitchell Docker in the lead after his horrific crash in the Arenberg Forest, he was joined by Frederik Backaert of Wanty-Groupe Gobert whose manager said he wanted to hear the team’s name “on race radio every day, presumably “on the attack” rather than “in difficulty”. Nacer Bouhanni won after plenty of elbows and headbutts between Cofidis and Katusha in the run-in including a brief tangle between Bouhanni and Katusha and others were spotted trading blows. Once the actual sprint started Bouhanni surged and seemed be positioned as low on the bike as Caleb Ewan and held off his rivals in a straight sprint.

Contact happens in sprints but a line is crossed when elbows shove and heads butt and it was surprising the commissaires let this stand without even a fine or a relegation. Some readers emailed to ask if this was bias towards a local French rider but remember the same rider was relegated for risky riding in Paris-Nice and note the commissaire jury is presided by a Belgian precisely to avoid these home decisions. Perhaps instead it was a combo of two things, first nobody from Katusha complained given their riders were part of the aggro and, second, there’s no official tasked with watching TV to pick up everything.

The Route: cycling is a rural sport most of the time and today’s route goes right into the sparsely-populated middle of France, past emptying villages and uncultivated land. There’s a scenic start as the race crosses the Monts du Beaujolais, a series of gentle climbs in rolling hills and passing very close to the point where Paris-Nice was stopped because of snow back in March but no worries today. The Col de la Croix Nicelle is 5.6 km long at 6.5% and on a wide steady road.

There’s then a long collection of rolling roads until 25km to go. The road starts climbing as the profile above shows. The climb from Sail to St-Georges is 7.5km at 5.6% but includes a good kilometre of 9% and on a big regular wide road. It’s enough to eject plenty of sprinters if the teams drive the pace and we could even see the GC teams join in to reduce the pack further.

The Finish: the ski resort is just below the “other” side of the Col du Béal, site of Alberto Contador and Chris Froome’s 2014 Dauphiné duel but now a more gentle approach. This is a ski station road and wide enough to fit two team buses. The final kilometre is six percent and on a big road.

Julian Alaphilippe

The Contenders: can any sprinters survive the climbing to the finish? Several teams will work hard to make sure they can’t. Etixx-Quickstep have two options today in Julian Alaphilippe and Dan Martin and Alaphilippe is the prime pick because the slope suits a powerful rider more than a wiry climber. The team will have to work at this though, setting the pace to ditch the sprinters while tasking others to shelter their lead duo.

Michał Kwiatkowski could be good on a stage like this and it’d be good to see him race for the win as opposed to being just another of Team Sky’s seven-figure salary domestiques all summer.

In a similar mould Simon Gerrans is suited for today but his form is unknown, will he pop up sniper-style to take the win? If not Daryl Impey and Adam Yates can cover with Yates the safer pick for the climbs.

Which Edvald Boasson Hagen is here? It’s said he’d put on weight for the sprint classics but before he joined Dimension Data, and certainly in his earlier years at Team Sky and before this would be a great finish given he could sit tight while all the other sprinters got blown away by gravity.

Romain Bardet is the most local rider in the bunch and can sprint better than those spindly legs suggest.

Cannondale’s Tom-Jelte Slagter is another candidate for uphill finishes but a rare winner while Wanty-Groupe Gobert’s Enrico Gasparotto is in form with 14th place in the uphill prologue and thrives in uphill sprints.

Finally the GC riders could be in the mix too, they can’t afford to lose any time and may set their teams to work. Richie Porte is probably the fastest from a group of the big names. Two outsiders are Bauke Mollema who could be given space to attack and Movistar’s strong but little-known rider Jesus Herrada.

Julian Alaphilippe
Dan Martin, Richie Porte, Michał Kwiatkowski
Bardet, Gerrans, Herrada, Gallopin, Boasson Hagen, Slagter, Gasparotto, Valgren

Weather: sunny and a top temperature of 23°C and a chance of shower or even a thunderstorm near the finish.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.10pm Euro time and they’ll start climbing soon after 4.30pm. It should be available on the same channel you watch the Tour de France and/or Eurosport. If not then cyclingfans, cyclinghub and have schedules and streams.

49 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 2 Preview”

  1. I wonder just how popular Bouhanni is in the peloton with his punches and antics plus his attitude…. In an interview yesterday Porte seemed to suggest this could be a GC day, guess we’ll have to wait and see.

        • Augie, I don’t know about you but I reckon the Velonews quotes do not exactly support its headline. None mention Bouhanni but instead they refer to fair practice in general. In the context of this particular sprint it seems to me Katusha were the aggressors in muscling the Cofidis train out of the way before the sprint proper and Bouhanni was not the first or only Cofidis man to use his head in butting to try and fail to keep Katusha out. After Bouhanni was bested by the heavier Kristoff in his part of that jockeying and sat off from that, when the sprint proper opened up in the last couple of hundred Bouhanni actually executed a very clean sprint, straight as an arrow once he was through. But the guy is a tosser nonetheless.

    • I’d be calling out Bouhanni as sketchy so and so if I was racing against him (like that’s ever going to happen), but as a spectator I enjoy his pugnacious style and emotional outpourings.

      And yes, it was really good seeing Mitch Docker and his 70s cop ‘tache back racing. His endearing podcast is good value:

    • There are; 10,6,4.
      I think that the GC will have a go too. They stayed with the sprint for a long time yesterday and, if it is a wide road, they could be encouraged to do the same today.

  2. Let me add one more one chainring name, partly out of a chauvinist reflex of course: Jan Bakelants. I think the Dauphiné’s one of his favourite races and the medium mountains are his favourite terrain. Of course it depends on Bardet as well.

  3. Maybe the Belgian commissaire has a Scottish wife, or Scots ancestry, or plays the bagpipes in his spare time, because how he can fail to be impressed by several examples of the good old ‘Glasgow Kiss’ I shall never know!

  4. I find it interesting that despite all the arguments about safety, whether it’s vehicles on the course, road furniture or whatever, certain guys butt heads at 60-70 kph but nobody cries foul and the race jury does nothing. Do the rest of the riders not care since most of this risky business occurs AFTER the 3 km zone begins? The overhead shots in this finale were pretty clear, should be easy to ID the offenders and take some sort of action before there’s a massive crash.

    • +1. Action should be taken against the perpetrators, and demanded by the rest of the peloton, instead of whining about unpleasant weather in the name of “safety” (thus ruining the credibility of their safety demands).

    • Fully agree. L’enfer, c’est les autres, as Sartre said. It’s always the other riders that make it dangerous. Don’t quite see why the 3k zone would influence complaints. A bone does not magically heal if it is broken inside the 3k zone. I think the riders, like everyone else in the world, prefer to lay the blame outside their own circle and ignore the part that they are responsible for themselves.
      Part of the reason no official complaint was filed is maybe because both Katusha and Cofidis were victims and perpetrators at the same time. Bouhanni won, he’s not going to complain. Kristoff almost fell because he touched his teammates’ wheel a while after pushing Bouhanni off that same wheel. It would be a bit pathetic to complain in that case. And the others were not directly hindered by head-butting. Some riders, like Degenkolb and Greipel, did condemn the whole thing on Twitter but I think nobody felt the need to fill in paperwork.
      But surely the commissaires could have acted on their own?

    • Couldn’t agree more, I thought rider safety was to be top priority by everyone in 2016. I wonder if, at least subconsciously, the effect of a French winner from a French team had anything to do with no punishments over yesterday’s head-butts.

      • Yes, quite, indeed, it was the same subconscious effect that made the officials relegate a French winner from a French team in a French race for irregular sprinting in stage 2 of this year’s Paris-Nice.

  5. Wheres the data?? Thought we were going to be treated to data from the riders, the Velon released video package is pretty rubbish (how many zoom out and up shots can you get!)

    Its not like we want rocket science…. rider location, cadence, gear and speed in the sprint – nothing personal (I get that some teams don’t want riders HR and Power broadcast).

    Same from the uphill TT on day one. (When they had no excuse for not collecting data as 4km static is not 200km rolling)

    Rant over….. back to the race! Rouleur for today’s win.

    • You might be thinking of the Tour de Suisse where they promise some data telemetry?

      The Dauphiné has data location tracking on test and it looks like ASO and Velon and have done a deal as the Velon teams are using the French tracking sticks on their bikes.

      • Ah… must sleep more… TdS it could be, but i’ve not seen anything here on the Dauphine from Velon? Do you know if the test will produce anything visible to the outside world?

        On the plus side…the sticks will serve as good ass-savers should it rain.

        • Yep – where is that integrated ass-saver/telemetry stick? The punters will all want their own. Don’t laugh, I’m old enough to remember when Spinaci-bars were all-the-rage. 🙂

          • Ahh, spinaci bars! I can recall those days, where you’d be in a break and it looked like a TTT with all those guys using them.

            Though they were kind of useful in Holland trying to cheat all that wind…

          • I don’t remember too many USING them, they were far more popular as a place to stash your helmet – as if while flying over the handlebars you could retrieve it and strap it on before your head hit the ground. But as soon as they were banned by the UCI all that usefulness seemed unimportant – as the punters who wanted to “look just like their hero” ditched them forever once their hero no longer used them.

  6. Watch out for Sondre Holst Enger. He rides incredibly well on semi-steep hills and has a powerful sprint. Ref. Tour of Norway stage 3.

  7. EBH was quite heavy last year (particularly in the start of the season), but he isn’t really anymore. He’s aiming for the olympics this year so he’s lost some weight.

  8. No love for Vuillermoz?

    I would think this stage would suit him quite nicely. He is strong in an uphill sprint and although just back from injury, 2nd at GP Plumelec last week showed that the form is there. I would put him a 1 chain ring minimum.

  9. Given how manic Froome was yesterday and also that both Contador and Porte seem very keen to win I suspect we shall see the GC folk fighting for bonus seconds. Perhaps the likes of Alaphilippe may get a look in but it may well come down to the strongest team effort pulling their leader to the line, bit like an uphill sprint train 🙂

    Hopefully no more stupid fighting between the sprinters, as has been said Mark Renshaw got kicked out of the TdF for less

    • EXACTLY! Renshaw got booted for a head-butt, but yesterday was ridiculous. Cofidis’ repeated head-butting was ridiculous. I wonder if the coincidence that half the perpetrators were from a french team had anything to do with it, and that a french rider won the stage. Even if it wasn’t on purpose, the optics of this look pretty bad. At the very least, both bouhanni and kristoff should be relegated.

      • Renshaw got booted for a series of head-butts (and IIRC blocking Tyler Farrar), one of which happened to unfortunately to look like it was directly aimed at his adversary’s head. He was also the only rider who was so blatantly transgressing the rules (and gulity of looking bad on television).

        BTW it was pretty much the general opinion at the time that the sentence was way too harsh.

        In Monday’s stage there were several riders giving head-butts, but none as badly as Renshaw, And if you were capable of seeing the difference between the Katusha red and the Cofidis red, you would have seen that Katusha riders gave as much as they took and that the Cofidis riders did not start it.

        FWIW I would have letthe results stand but issued warnings to half a dozen riders. I do not know whether the rules would have allowed for such a decision, though.

  10. Apropos of nothing:

    There are a LOT of good riders in this race.
    Bouhani is pure comedy. The Borat of the peloton
    Mitch Docker’s return with mo’ is all class. Did I also detect a mullet beneath his helmet? I hope so.

  11. I quite enjoy the physicality of the sprints, there was an excellent overhead for (I think) the Tour de Yorkshire, heads and elbows everywhere. But I think it has maybe gone too far, you’ll get the amateurs copying with the enthusiasm but maybe not the technique of the pros. Getting new teeth fitted is no way to enjoy a hobby.

  12. I felt really embarrassed for the sport by the finish yesterday. The non-reaction from the commissaires will just encourage a repeat performance and likely a serious crash next time…There is a conflict of interest here with Katusha, Cofidis (especially Bouhanni) and the race itself getting a lot of media traction on the back of this. Controversy is all well and good but innocents may suffer career-ending injuries…I don’t understand why the commissaires do not view race footage unless there is an appeal. I appreciate that tv coverage can only show part of the truth but that doesn’t seem to be a problem when they do refer to it so why not view it as standard? Can’t they afford to pay someone to do this? A blatant headbutt or barge as we saw yesterday should be an automatic penalty, relegation to last place on the stage and a fine. Second offence in the same stage race should be an expulsion. Why not have a season long penalty system, eg if you do something like this in MSR and RVV then you are barred from PR. The idea that nothing happens because two teams are involved and neither want to make a mess on their own doorstep by calling out the other is absurd, it makes professional sport look like a game in the playground, not a good example to set to young people.

    • You’re completely right, especially with all of the focus on rider safety this year (eg. extreme weather protocol and motorcycle-related injuries/deaths in races).

    • And few seem to have the cojones to do anything other than feckless tweeting. Was The Badger the last one without any real fear of confrontation? They co-opted him into management, where is his replacement to speak for the peloton?

  13. Standards within the peloton reflect the lack of respect/standards that many people now accept as normal behaviour with scant regard for others persons safety. Sad.

  14. So funny in cycling how different riders thrive on different terrain. Yesterday Bouhanni wins, today he’s 168th. The two finalists in last year’s Tour of Flanders, Kristoff and Terpstra, finish side by side, 171st and 172nd.

  15. I noticed Bardet lost about 45″ on GC today because of his crash with about 1.5k to go.
    However, I was under the impression that, in the case of punctures or crashes in the last three kilometers, you are given the same time as the group you were in. Does this not apply when it is not a flat stage?

    • Exactly, otherwise on a summit finish a weaker ride could treat the 3km to go sign as their finish line and try their best to hang on to the leaders until this point, only to ride into the ditch with 2.99km to go and claim they should never have lost time. On the flat with drafting etc it’s a different matter. The race rules should inform riders/teams which stages the 3km rule applies or not.

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