Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 5 Preview

The race heads for the mountains and a hard ski station summit finish. Vaujany isn’t famous in cycling now a swank ski resort but it is a hard, selective climb and all this on an intense 140km stage.

Stage 4 Wrap: the headwind made for a slow ride and the TV images were spiced up by some live on-board camera footage from Cofidis’s Kenneth Van Bilsen, novel but it didn’t add much, what’s probably needed is 50 or 100 cams so that something interesting can be filmed. As predicted Maxime Bouet was part of the day’s breakaway and he tried but it came down to a sprint and the uphill dash suited Edvald Boasson Hagen the most with a mixed top-10 of sprinters and puncheurs. The slope split the peloton and Alberto Contador and Richie Porte lost a few seconds with Chris Froome now just four seconds behind Contador.

The Route: some roads to ride today, a scenic trip across the Alps but there won’t be any time to look around for the riders. The short 140km course means things should be active from the start and the mixed terrain makes it very hard to control.

Things get serious with the Col du Barioz, a road that leads the race up to a scenic balcony road along the Belledone mountain range and getting up there is hard work, 7.8km at 6.5% but with some steeper sections along the way and all on a small secondary road. A similar story with the Col des Ayes, 3.8km at 8.1% and more hard work. Then comes the rewarding ride along the balcony and then the drop to Vizille.

The ride up the valley from Vizille is hard work, a steady gradient but often with a headwind in the afternoons but it’s familiar to many as the road leads to Alpe d’Huez. This time the take the turning to the Col du Glandon and just at the start of the Glandon is the turn off to Vaujany.

The Finish: the ski station summit finish of 6.4km at 6.5% sounds reasonable but it’s got a steady gradient of 8-10% for most of the way and then a flatter section as they approach the village of Vaujany. The early steep part is hard work, it twists with a few hairpins and if the road is wide it’s irregular with a constantly changing gradient, this might be a ski station road but it feels like an old path rather than a route engineered to take buses and trucks up to the top. The road flattens out as they enter the village but then there’s a hairpin bend and it rises at 7% for the final 300 metres.

The Contenders: Chris Froome has been sprinting in the finishes to avoid losing time, a sign that every second counts rather than someone sitting back and waiting to do a few controlled hill efforts. Now he’s just four seconds off the race lead and if he takes the 10 second time bonus and Contador gets the six seconds for second place Froome still takes the yellow jersey because his prologue time was 380 milliseconds shorter. Sky could try and do their mountain train routine and Froome launches late on the climb. Alternatively they can fire riders up the road and who better than Mikel Landa and Sergio Henao?

Alberto Contador knows all of the above so he only need sit tight and hold on and try to respond to anything Froome can do. His team are weaker but all the more reason to ride on Sky’s coat tails and respond when required rather than waste energy trying to shape the race, especially given he’s already won a stage and enjoyed a spell in yellow.

What about Richie Porte? Amid the duel he’s still a contender here, better than Froome in the prologue in part because his build suited the punchy course. So here again is a finish to suit and he can finish quickly.

Etixx-Quickstep’s combo of Julian Alaphilippe and Dan Martin are an interesting prospect. How high Alaphilippe can climb is the question everyone wants to know and this spiky finish is a real test, his trainer Franck Alaphilippe (his uncle) says he’s the high mountains are unknown in racing, even in training which seems a small exaggeration given he won a mountain stage of the Tour de l’Avenir and rode the 2014 Dauphiné and other mountainous stage races. Dan Martin brings less bluff and a fast finish.

Romain Bardet has a little more room for manoeuvre and a point to prove after his crash two days ago which cancelled out his excellent prologue. No more motivation is needed but the stage starts from Chambéry, the HQ of the Ag2r La Mondiale team. Next comes a list of decent riders who might be given the chance to slip way in the final moments as the big names mark each other. Adam Yates sprints well, Daniel Moreno is riding well and Diego Rosa is having a strong season. Can Thibaut Pinot win? He’s a little short on form and better suited to the next two stages.

A random trio for the breakaway: IAM’s Clement Chèvrier is a climber who lives near the start, Dimenson Data’s Omar Fraile is a good bet for the mountains and Lotto-Jumbo’s George Bennett is a great climber who can take his own chances.

Alberto Contador, Chris Froome
Richie Porte, Romain Bardet, Dan Martin, Julian Alaphilippe
Yates, Moreno, Landa, Henao, Mollema, Rosa

Weather: warn and sunny with a top temperature of 27°C and a 10-15km/h tailwind for the first 100km to make things even more frantic.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.10pm Euro time and they start the final climb around 4.50pm. 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.

73 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 5 Preview”

  1. I can’t see Sky being too adventurous here.
    Whilst it would be great to see Landa and / or Henao go away they’re only a minute or so down on GC and it very much looks like that Froome is top dog for this race. Perhaps they’ll try a dig on the final climb but it looks more like a ‘defend what we have’ situation and then Froome launches at the end.
    So it’s either countdown to lift-off, or Bertie breaks the whole rhythm up and surges.
    I suspect the latter.

    Should we look out for Aru too, who’s still got a point to prove?

      • +1 too… sometimes the peleton looks like it’s pottering along from the front, and then you go in the middle and it’s pretty claustrophobic and you get a sense of the speed up/slow down/speed up elastic effect when they sweep round corners, how close they get to the road edge at speed, the constant concentration it must take – no wonder they crash all the time… I agree that some backwards facing footage would mix it up nicely, and don’t get me started on the whole rider identification thing (so so easy to fix, just a total no brainer, so cheap, would make the viewing experience so much better etc etc grrrrr…)

    • I think we need lots more otherwise it just seems to be little to see, just people pedalling. The problem is that if they have 50-100 cameras streaming live then it’ll require a big production effort to track and edit.

      • Those “butt-cam” shots are far too frequent for me! I’m getting way more information on individual riders chamois-placement than I want. The camera’s too low to see race numbers, so unless the guy’s off to the side of the peloton, all you see is the north-end of southbound horses, pretty worthless compared to a similar shot from the TV moto where you can see a lot more since the camera’s higher up. Sadly, “butt-cam” will get overused just as the on-board stuff in F1 or MOTOGP is chosen by the TV directors way-too-often.

      • It’s not the final solution, I agree. But it adds to the production value, giving an impression of the speed and general mayhem inside the peloton, which is not something you perceive from helicopter shots. That said, the possibilities of incorporating riders’ data into TV productions are countless, just a matter of trial and error to find out how to best do it.

        • Just out of interest what benefits do you foresee in being able to see rider data? If someone’s HR is through the roof you’ll be able to tell they’re going to crack, but what else? Power will go down after they have cracked, will go up when they are sprinting etc.

          • In the overhead shots of the peloton i’d like a few select riders picked out, In the classics I’d like to see how long each member of a group is working on the fron,t on hill climbs and in the classics I’d like to see power for the man on the front vs those behind and those trying to catch/bridge over. I think combining the data with a graphic on a climb to see the challangers relative place on the mountain would be useful. I also think overlays of their (time lapsed) gps positions during a time trial so you can see their relative postion would make it sooooo much more interesting!

          • In my mind, the rider data include postitional data, so I’d start with the simple benefit of knowing where the riders are. I, for one, do not find it charmingly old-fashioned and quirky to listen to commentator trying to guess who’s in the breakaway, chasing group, peloton, gruppetto, etc. This information, does not have to flood everybody’s TV screen either, it can be made availeble for instance on an app to aid said commentators or for geeks like me who would like to track their favourite riders (where they are, are they losing/gaining on leaders, etc).

            As for more “physiological” rider data, it could be educational to show snippets on for example watts produced by riders dragging the peloton versus hiding in it versus chasing back to it, comparing watts per kilo for a climber versus a sprinter on a climb, average speed on descent by Nibali vs Pinot, etc. Some live, but even more potential for post-race (or mid-race) analysis, perhaps?

            That said, none of the above is suggested as a main, or even side, dish. It’s spice! All I’m saying, is that as long as data is there, why not look for opportunities to use them to improve on the presentation of the sport?

          • @rupert, I agree with you on the stats-info. Those would be interesting to have sometimes. It shouldn’t be that difficult to track, say, for a group of escapees (a limited number) what percentages of the time each of them are at the front. That could be interesting, I think.
            Also I think – as we don’t always hear about it – info on how many punctures a specifik rider has had or how many times down by his car etc.
            The producers need to rethink the stats to convey. There are too many all at the same time in american broadcasts (probably this has increased since the introduction of wide screen TVs) but I think something along those lines would be much more interesting that wattages as they are easily intepreted by everybody and could hint on strategies or other significant sub-plots. GPS info could also be part of this.
            But – interesting as they may be for some “nerds” – the direct wattages/HRs are basically arbitrary and add no value to the layman’s viewing.

      • The onboard camers are a nice gimmick to me, but nothing more. Yeah they look spectactular and dramatic, but because of the POV on saddle/bar height AND fisheye lens. Most things would look much different from a normal head perspective

    • +1 Adds to the spectacle, gives you a sense of the panic and blutser within the peloton and also just how close they ride. A rear mounted camera might give you a better view of who is who.

      • As gratuitous as this sounds, the cam shots are good for showing another view of crashes.
        Also descents, sprints, sweeping curves etc.
        There’s a place for their footage.

        I take Inner Ring’s point about the live production problems. The answer is probably that they’re best used edited in to a highlights show – TDU did this very well, with mixed footage shots, and use of data.
        Their highlights shows were excellent actually.

        • Actually don’t think it would be too difficult, you ignore it until you see the action/player you want, – so for example Nibali breaks away on the front of the group on a downhill – you switch to his Camara. Kruijswijk crashes, you see this from the moto and replay the image from his bike. you see the time gaps come down as Valverde catches and switch to his camera as he closes in.

    • yeah, i liked it too. I can’t wait till drones become the defacto way stuff is filmed – it will be much closer to the action than we have at the moment.

  2. Maybe not relevant to this post…but Orica has just announced its not wont be renewing its sponsorship beyond next year. Its in the financial newspapers but i haven’t found any cycling websites pick it up yet. Would be really sad if we lost our only Australian team.

    • I thought this was known already? But perhaps its confirmation now too and the team has issued a press release on this. There’s time to find a replacement but it’s always surprised me that they’ve never been able to get a co-sponsor to to replace the Greenedge label, effectively Orica-Your Name Here.

      • I suspect the reason is timing. All the main races take place in the middle of the night for Australian audiences, which rather reduces Australian sponsors’ exposure in their key market.

    • Agree with your regrets but hardly surprising. ORICA – a spin-off from UK’s former ICI – are in the mining industry. With mining conditions so currently so hard a saving of 10$million or so is impossible to ignore. Some good names there too: Chaves, Mathews, Ewan, Yates x 2… Good while it lasted

    • I didn’t know this….truly worrying. The team has done really well since its inception and is entering an exciting phase with up and coming GC riders and talented young Aussie sprinters. Cycling is still on the fringes of the mainstream in Australia where only the Tour gets attention from the big media. Hayman’s Roubaix win got a dissapointingly modest level of coverage.

      This is a worrying trend in cycling with Tinkov pulling out and his allegation that BMC and Katusha will do the same. Something must be broke with the current model.

      Anyhow I hope to forget these issues for a while and enjoy tonights stage!

        • Not at all. I have never seen negative popular press about Orica. In Aus (at least, in the west) most people actually really like our mining/mining services companies. They brought a lot of people a lot of prosperity through the booms years. One of the main reasons why the current government got voted in at the last election is because of a promise to remove a tax on mining companies. Even some of the mining CEO’s are very well liked ie Andrew Forrest (FMG).

          Banks on the other hand….

          • Well. they sure brought prosperity. To a few. and pain to thers. Like every capitalist company.
            But they also do have a record of environmental incidents, like mining companys do. Poisoning the environment with mercury or cynide isn’t any better than a torturing Khalifa family member from freaking Bahrain.

          • Please Vitus, perhaps not really the place for this. Plus, you are typing on a computer, or tablet, or mobile phone, all of which are components from mined minerals. If one were to follow you’re train of thought to the logical conclusion we should all blame each other.

          • Vitus – I only made the comment about banks as a statement about public perception. I.e. my experience is that public perception here is that mining = good. Banks = bad.

      • “Something must be broke with the current model.” Exactly – Heinie’s World/Pro Tour folly is being fully exposed now. $10-30 million is just too much loot to risk having things all come crashing down due to a doping scandal…even the rich chamois-sniffers whose business interests only vaguely benefit from pro team sponsorship are starting to look for the exits.

      • Tinkov has spent millions, he can’t keep bankrolling a team for ever, especially as he’s been paying some if not the highest salaries in the peloton. If Orica leave it’s normal, many companies come in for a few years of exposure and then withdraw, the trick is to find a good replacement now for Greenedge. Given their success rate this should not be a problem.

        • I agree, “this should not be a problem,” but the precedence of finding a replacement sponsor tells otherwise; e.g. HTC-Highroad.

          • Fair point especially as they’ve wanted a co-sponsor for years but not found it easy. Noel’s point above is valid that not everyone wants their brand linked next to a mining/explosives company.

  3. Comment about Froome taking yellow if he beats Contador into 2nd due to 380ms in hand due to prologue takes a bit of head scratching to figure out 🙂

    The waiting to see what Alaphilippe is capable of is the most interesting part of the day for me. Froome and Contador trying to push each other is a known quantity even if the result isn’t.

    • It’s easier to figure it out by countback. Froome has finished ahead of Contador every stage (apart from the prologue), albeit on the same time (apart from Stage 4).

      • They use countback when times are equal but the prologue was timed to the 100th of a second and so these are used to work out exactly who is ahead.

        • I suppose you have to break a tie somehow, and in a single stage (e.g. Dumoulin’s Giro TT win) then adding decimal places is probably the best you can do.
          That said, things totally outside the riders’ control (e.g. how promptly the guy in the TT start house lets you go…) will affect the results by more than 0.01s…just because the timings are that precise doesn’t mean they’re that accurate. Countback is at least based on something the riders have more influence over (i.e. how much they sprint for minor places).

          • A question I keep meaning to ask. Does timing start when the second hand reaches the minute (like in rallying) or when the riders wheel crosses a timing pad (like downhill skiing, I think)?

          • @Tovarisch
            Timing is “automatic” for some races; the timer chip is located at the same section of the bike for every rider.
            If necessary – or if no chip is used – the time is at the front wheel crossing the blick line in between the 2 white parts of the finish line.
            The practical part is more less:
            At the finish line, the timing responsible, surveyed by the finish judge, manually scrolls the high-speed film of the finish across the screen.
            Whenever a rider or a group of riders shws up, he will click and drag a thin line to place it one by one at the front wheel of the riders.
            For every placing, he clicks and the corresponding time as everything is synched to the timing system, shows up.
            He then adds the number of the rider, clicks OK and the riders time and placing is registered.
            For bonus seconds, points, KOM etc. most is automatic, provided the correct numbers are fed to the system, and the final lists are generated.
            Sounds overly complicated when writing it but it really is quite a fast working operation for these experienced guys.

          • Thanks, @UHJ. Do they also use that automatic click&drag timing to calculate whether there is a gap in the bunch, or is that still done by eye?

          • @Tovarishch,
            The time starts when the second hand reaches the minute. We count down “for show” as you probably have seen many times. Note we have our hand – showing seconds with fingers – in front of the rider like a band to be lifted as in speedway.
            When electronic timing was introduced, we some elaborate and complicated regulations about when a rider would pass and the time started; the holder was sometimes instructed to hold the rider back – I did that my self a couple of times during the WC TTs in Madrid some years ago.

            Nowadays the system is fully synchronised so video, timer, the works, correspond. Any gaps will also show when the line is dragged. Even if the video is stopped for a prolonged time and restarted, the timing is kept.
            The video is “hand-recorded” meaning one official is responsible for starting and stopping the video capture when riders pass. Back in the old days, the photo finish film would be composed of several strips and you had to manually time the positions of groups and riders

          • Thanks again. I wonder then how they managed to have the situation on Stage 2, when a “gap” in the peloton was first deemed to have existed (I think between Martin and Rolland), and then deemed not to be big enough to count.

          • @Nick, I can’t say for sure why they changed their decision. Could because a complaint could be substantiated (crash/defect or other). Perhaps someone even got fined for something leading to the gap, I don’t know.
            Speaking of the gaps, it was at one point – prior to electronic timing – suggested to draw a red line across the road a distance from the finish line corresponding to 1 sec at an estimated sprint velocity (app. 65 kmt). This was intended to make it easier to distinguish when a gap occured. I believe the suggestion surfaced back when Bjarne Riis took over the yellow from team colleague Berzin because he stayed on the right side of the gap. It never came about as part of the regulations, though.

  4. Hairpin climbs are generally where Froome struggles.

    Also anything above 10% ala Vuelta style.

    He’ll flourish on the flat part of thr climb, but this looks like Porte v Contador v Aru..

  5. Probably a couple of stupid questions, but I feel I need to ask them.

    Would Froome and to a lesser extent Sky let one of his team mate win the Dauphine and also the Tour later on? And also, if we take the Dauphine, would it be necessary for Contador and Tinkoff to follow all the attacks from Sky riders?
    Sky have by far the strongest squad in this race and with the addition of Thomas for the Tour will be even stronger but Froome is the main man at Sky, he has based his entire season on the Tour, racing much less than his previous years, so if Landa or Henao or Thomas attack to destabilise the other GC contenders, would Froome be happy to let them take minutes, get a decent margin in the GC and potentially win it? I understand Sky don’t really mind who in the team wins it but then why pay Froome millions if he’s not going to be the main man and win the most prestigious races.

    Let’s imagine a normal mountain stage in the Tour, Sky’s mountain train is at the front as usual, then Henao would attack so the other GC teams would chase, then Landa can attack then Thomas or Poels or any other riders you can think at Sky who have the ability to win a Tour. Wouldn’t it be worth Tinkoff, BMC, Movistar, Astana etc… call Sky’s bluff and let one of them go and take minutes. What would Froome reaction be if Landa takes 3 or 4mns because no one chased and he becomes the protected rider because he has a very good chance of winning? It could be a tactic that is repeated for all major races so why would Sky pay Froome millions to just be a decoy?

    • At present it looks like whatever Froome wants to win the team will let him, or rather if he’s in the team he’s no1. So if you want to win a stage race you need to do a la Thomas and go for the Suisse this time.

      However Froome does look like a “team player”, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in a support role in a minor race to thank a team mate for support in the Tour, but it would need to fit in with Froome’s training goals.

    • not sure anyone with a shot at winning the Tour is going to let Landa or Poels take minutes and walk off with the spoils. It can happen in a 1-day race (eg Devolder at Flanders) but the Tour is too important.
      Froome get’s paid the bucks because that was his market price if they wanted to keep him (altho it looks like we may be in for a period of deflation with Tinkoff/Orica/Iam etc etc dropping). If one of the others got a defendable lead, Brailsford would defend it whether Froome liked it or not.

      • That would be a change for them, as historically Sky have been keen to stick to their original plan. So if the plan was for Wiggins to win, then Froome had to support that even at the cost of his own GC ambitions (’11 Vuelta) or chances of taking a stage (’12 Tour). I’d suspect they’re still pretty rigid about this.

        • I was just answering Gargatouf’s hypothetical question really, but even so I do think Sky’s tactics differ now to the 2011-13 vintage and they seem more prepared to fire riders up the road. In the 2011 Vuelta Froome was just announcing himself and Sky wouldn’t risk the surer bet of Wiggins for a relative unknown. In the ’12 Tour you are quite correct, it was all about getting to Paris intact and stage wins were secondary to that (even for Cav). It was pretty clear that Wiggins had enough in the tank in the TTs and could just about match Nibali etc in the hills, so Froome was just going to have to bide his time whatever his (and his wife’s) personal frustrations.

        • I think they must have softened by now. They look more in favour of strength in numbers as we’ve seen in the classics, and the stage 2 finish a few days ago.

  6. I think froome is fighting for each second in this race while Kontador isn’t (he probably considers it is not a big deal for him to loose some seconds in a sprint finish if he avoids problems and crashes).
    It is quite sure Froome is to try and attack on the climb when you see how he is racing so far. However, if he feels well, I think Kontador may try as well.

    • Yet, Contador was rather angry with the missed application of the 3 kms rule (watching the footage, I think the jury may have had a proper point, it’s not absolutely clear that the crash determined any unrecoverable gap… still, I hold my point that according to the rule “a damage” was received because of the crash; all in all, a situation open to both decisions).

      Today will be an interesting test because the climb and the stage theoretically suit Froome’s skills: hugely similar to Cumbre del Sol in last Vuelta, where Froome performed above what can be expected from his results on La Alpujarra or Sierra de Cazorla just 48 or 72 hours before.
      The prologue was more favourable to Contador since it obviously limited heavier riders’ options: the steep parts were to continuous to allow a “burst of power” approach and the hairpins implied inertia related problems.
      Besides, today the stage offers a perfect terrain to arrive to the last climb with controlled rhythm: despite the showing of lots of GPMs, the only minimally serious one are 90-100kms away from the finish.

      They’ll probably try their “multiple shots” attacks before Froome’s decisive accelerations. Maybe we’ll even see his typical apparent slight delay in the beginning of the climb, to surge stronger later 🙂

      If the two athletes are on par in terms of form and relative effort, on paper Froome should be able to take this.

      If one of them is in better form than the other, the result can logically differ. Same if one of them *decides* to perform a stronger effort, or conversely not to go full-full gas, be it for TdF training reasons or with the following stages in mind.

      • I think the 3km rule should be respected even if there are gaps opening up. What is the purpose of this rule? To keep the GC contenders from messing around up front so the sprinters can go about their business witn less risc of crashing, with a lesser number of cyclists around (who don’t stand a chance in the sprint anyway)

  7. On bike cameras, rear cameras, ass cams, jersey pocket cams, this cam, that cam any cam. Fair enough, but give me an option to view where I can choose NOT to have any of these additional shots. Their just gimmicks in the peloton because everyone is camera crazy these days. For proper on bike camera action watch The Isle of Man TT races this week, now that is what you call action!

    • The Isle of Man TT is what made me realize that I could not do anything and that I did not want to. The death rate in return for very little monetary reward is sobering.

  8. Could Mr Inrng please explain how a deficit of 13 seconds on the day in the Prologue turns into an advantage of 380 milliseconds when dealing with who gets the yellow jersey some days later?

    • The thirteen seconds is the rounded time, so say Froome gains thirteen seconds on Contador, then the tiebreaker is the time with decimals, and in this case Contador beat Froome by 13.380 milliseconds in the prologue. Take away the thirteen and Contador still leads by 380 ms.

    • I’m guessing that the 13 second time difference was really 12.62 rounded up, but when they are on the ‘same time’ – as in the scenario Inrng paints – then the 380 milliseconds makes the difference between 1st and 2nd.

      • Exactly, Froome was 12.620 seconds behind on the prologue, so if he gained 13 seconds he would be 0.380 ahead. As it happens, he seems to have skipped straight past that scenario as is now presumably 27.380 seconds ahead.

  9. I agree with Noel and some of the other posts, Sky’s tactics appear to have altered since their earlier seasons. They no longer are able to just sit on the front grinding away. Probably because other teams have been forced to adapt. I am not sure if Froome struggles on hairpins though. Sky, like many teams, seem to be heavily reliant on Powermeters. In my opinion, Froome will be conscious of riding to a particular average wattage at certain stages in the race and may just be trying to avoid the need to surge in power too often. This can be seen in a similar way when Sky respond to attacks in the mountains by slowly reeling in the rider, no burning vital “matches” that maybe required later. Hairpins would require surges of power to be avoided over an average gradient.

    • You called that one! BRAVO! As much as I dislike SKY, I must say they raced like a $30 million team today. Froome even seemed less of the “frullatore” on this climb. Do I note a bit more muscle on those skeletal legs these days? Now, they just need to get his elbows in and for him to look where-the-hell he’s going instead of swiveling his head around in circles all the time and he just might look like a proper bike rider. He goes like one, maybe someday he can look like one too? He’s certainly set himself up as the man-to-beat at this race…and perhaps at Le Grand Boucle as well?

  10. I first was annoyed by him with his and his wag’s disrespect of Wiggo and his job. Then, he annoyed me more when he couldn’t contain himself and had to show everyone, every time, his superiority. Now, I am beyond annoyed that he pretends that his condition might not be there, until he reminds us that it is always there. Like some genetic freak of something. If the truth were told, I don’t think he can lose unless he wants to.

  11. I can’t bring myself to like Chris Froome either but no argument with his talent.

    Should Porte have done so much work? Old habits die hard I guess.

    The race isn’t over yet, but hard to see a Giro like reversal in 2 days…

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