Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 4 Preview

A stage promised for the sprinters and an uphill finish to test them and maybe invite some extra names into the contest.

Stage 3 Wrap: sprinters sometimes get a bad label as shirkers who only emerge in the final metres of a race. In fact they’re often the ones able to put down 1600W after five hours of racing when others cannot because they’re cooked. Yesterday showed them clearing the climb and trying to contest the stage win only if Kristoff, Bennett and Bouhanni among others were up there, their team mates were not and so the peloton could not bring back Fabio Aru who took the win. It was an odd move by Aru, he joined a breakaway over the top of the final climb where everyone must have got sore necks for the way they all kept looking over their shoulders waiting for someone else to do the work. Nobody would so when Aru jumped L-L Sanchez marked the others and Aru took a slender lead. It looked like it would never work but if the chase was on behind it lacked power and the Sardinian stayed clear for the win. Well done to him but it was not the result he wanted from this race and we’ll see what he delivers in the mountains. As it’s Astana team politics matter but it’s hard to see Nibali holding sway given he’s leaving the team.

The Route: a flat run past rich agricultural terrain. There’s not much more to add to say about most of the route as it has few obstacles. The 176km route takes the riders to a finishing circuit and when they cross the line there’s 32km to go.

The Finish: an uphill drag to the line, the final kilometre rises at 2.5% on a regular road.

The Contenders: everything says this is for the sprinters given the flat route and because many teams are in with a chance so they’ll work to to ensure it happens.

Nacer Bouhanni and Alexander Kristoff are the two premier picks. The uphill finish need not be a problem for either of them, Bouhanni has the lighter build and Kristoff the raw power.

Next come two more picks. Sam Bennett had crashed hard in the Tour of Belgium but seems to be over the injuries given his sixth place yesterday. If this was a flat finish he’d be rated even higher but the slight rise to the line could be problematic. Edvald Boasson Hagen has been trying hard, so much that he too was tangling in the Stage 1 sprint. The uphill run suits him but whereas once he could win on all sorts of terrain nowadays he seems unable to find something that suits.

Greg Van Avermaet is going well and trying to hunt a stage. Samuel Dumoulin likes uphill sprints and is almost a local but surely the opposition is too much. A similar story for Sondre Holst Enger even if he’s not a local. Trek-Segafredo’s Niccolò Bonifazio can pick off hilly sprints but tends to win a sprint from a reduced group after the hills. Julian Alaphilippe might try to contest the sprint but this may not be selective enough for him.

Finally Etixx-Quickstep’s Maxime Bouet is the local, or at least he was born in the finish town of Belley but has since moved away. A strong rider he rarely gets to play his own card because as good as he is he doesn’t have a speciality, he can’t climb or sprint with the best so he could show in the breakaway.

Nacer Bouhnanni, Alexander Kristoff
Edvald Boasson Hagen, Sam Bennett, Greg Van Avermaet
Bonifazio, Dumoulin, Debusschere, Holst Enger

Weather: warm, sunny and a top temperature of 27°C.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.10pm Euro time. 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.

30 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 4 Preview”

  1. Kristof’s reaction at the end told us that the peloton should have had Aru.
    But credit to him, and particularly his team; they are probably the most tactically dynamic of the main teams, certainly in stage races anyway.
    Astana come with well-thought out plans and are flexible on the move.
    They get a lot of bad press, but their DS’ are very good.

    • +1 For once(?) I agree with you Ecky.
      I’m puzzled by this in the recap from yesterday “Sardinian stayed clear for the win. Well done to him but it was not the result he wanted from this race and we’ll see what he delivers in the mountains. As it’s Astana team politics matter but it’s hard to see Nibali holding sway given he’s leaving the team.”
      I watched the stage on RAI Sport 1, including the post-race interview with Aru, but must have missed the part where he said it wasn’t the result he wanted and the bits about Nibali. Where does this come from? Can someone point me to a source for these claims?

          • Opportunistic is right, and Astana are adept at making things happen.
            But Aru’s GC went up in smoke after the prologue.
            He looked far from smooth yesterday but I suppose he doesn’t have that languid style.
            It will be interesting to see how he goes in the mountains.

          • But I guess you don’t want to wait until there’s a real mountain or two? The pure watts/kg test the first day was enough? With all the security issues in France these days, maybe it’s time to set up a scale and ergometer in Paris and just declare the Tour de France winner the one with the best watts/kg then?

          • I think that was the point the other day Larry, putting that prologue at the start of a week-long race could have effectively decided the podium there and then.
            Do you see Aru taking 1’15” off Contador, Porte and Froome in the three mountain stages?

      • I think that if this wasn’t the result he wanted, he wouldn’t have gone for it 😛

        Jokes apart, I don’t think he had the slightest intention to fight for GC. I think he’ll just race on and see what comes, but the race GC was no goal.
        As it was stated pretty clearly to the media…
        …and as this Dauphiné always tends to work when you don’t have a victory-bulimic Contador around, or the new-way of Sky, having Froome winning it when no serious contender was around only to build up his self-esteem and to tune up team dynamics.

  2. Hi to all Aussies watching, this race seems so laconic after the Giro and they definitely need to put a second person in the commentary box.

  3. Sondre Holst Enger to Norwegian TV2 after yesterday’s stage: -I’m really disappointed. I should have been able to stay with the group over the top. Kristoff did, and I’m normally at least as strong as him on the hills. I just didn’t have the legs.

    Hope he finds his legs today.

    • Who is this guy? He seems to have a lot of fans, at least on this site. I can only find a stage win in Tour of Croatia and another one in Austria last year. He’s from Norway too, so why not root for the very impressive Kristoff? Is it a preference for the underdog or there some thing else to it, like regional frictions?

      • I was thinking that. There’s a comment about him every day but I don’t think I’ve even heard of him. Is he the lanky guy that got in a breakaway at the Giro?

        • He’s been hailed as a great talent in Norway, as he was 3rd in the U23-worlds in Florence and 5th in Ponferrada. The talent is definitely there, but he’s been very inconsistent so far in his pro career. If he stays healthy he could be one of the worlds best puncheurs

          • His U23 Worlds 3rd was in 2013. He just has a fan who post his name everyday so he got 877 visits this week on PCS. Guess mission accomplished 😉

      • In fact, preference for the underdog was probably invented by Norwegians! It is probably a national character trait 🙂
        Plus there is intense regional rivalries in Norway, the Hushovd crowd from southern Norway are more likely to cheer for an ex TSS / Plusbank rider (Conti team part owned by Hushovd). Of course we’d love to see him up there with the best – and in the 2.1 and 2.HC races here he has been up there and then not and then up there again, but definetly a high-profile rider for years. These races may not have the same level of competition as the Dauphine, but thousands of spectators more on every stage – roadside, not on TV. This year, Sondre Holst Enger was here and put on a show, racing well in Tour of Norway, while Kristoff prioritized his American business relations. So, our underdog in this case gets some love cause he gives some back. Simple!
        Kristoff has a little bit off the Messi problem, he wins big (2 more monuments than the rest of Norway combined) with his pro team – but not wearing the national team’s jersey yet. He might be one of the biggest stars in the world but in Norway he is only the best of perhaps our finest generation of cyclists ever. However, he can’t be the subject of our underdog appreciation anymore, so we need Holst Enger, Bystrøm, Eiking and others to fill that gap!

  4. Disappointed by INRNG’s assessment of Aru’s stage win. Maybe the peloton wasn’t the fastest on the day and maybe Aru should be better placed in the GC but for a CG rider (and current Vuelta champion) to hold off the charging bulls like that is something we don’t see too often. Holding a 10-15 sec advantage for 10K?!! Frankly I found it quite exciting and I would bet it might be the most exciting finish of the Dauphine. Aru is not quite in the category of Froome or Contador but for me that was a classy win. Like his teammate and compatriot, Nibali, he races with heart and class. The main GC guys these days are boring as hell and could learn a thing or two about valuing wins other than the yellow jersey from folks like Aru and Nibbles.

  5. Great picks, IR. Had EBH in your sights, and you were on the money regarding today’s breakaway hero.

    Think you should switch to calling horse races. There’s a lot more money in that.

  6. Any hint about why the 3km rules wasn’t applied? (I didn’t see the race, just read a summary). Did they consider this an *uphill finish*?

      • Yeah, I seem to recall some Tour stage where there were some crashes in the last 2-3 km. It must’ve been a slight uphill finish because the pack split, and those who crashed ended up getting a better time than those who finished on two wheels but were gapped.

        • I think I more or less remember it, and the polemics because it was way more convenient to look like you’d had a problem, then taking it easy to the line, than having been gapped *after* the accident and then trying to rush your way to the finish line. Some of the guys who fell received a time they probably wouldn’t have been able to achieve with their own legs…
          However, that was a bit different to today’s stage.

      • I thought it included those who remained behind “because of” a crash, and I think I saw it applied like that in the Giro and other races, sometime, but I’m really not so sure.

      • UCI rule 2.6.027: “In the case of a duly noted fall, puncture or mechanical incident in the last three kilometers of a road race stage, the rider or riders involved shall be credited with the time of the rider or riders in whose company they were riding at the moment of the accident.”
        I think that “involved” includes anyone affected or concerned by the end result of what happened, not only those who suffered the event in itself.

        In French, indeed, it says: “les coureur(s) accidenté(s)”, and “accidenter” in French doesn’t mean that *an accident strikes you*, since it means “causer un dommage à quelqu’un” and “dommage” is “préjudice porté à quelqu’un (corporellement ou moralement), à ses biens par le fait d’un tiers”, thus it should be “the riders who received a damage because of what happened”.

        But I’m no native in either French or English, hence I’m not perfectly sure; I just think I saw the juries working out this rule otherwise in other races.

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