Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 6 Preview

Another short stage, just 141km and crammed with 4,570 metres of vertical gain. Yesterday’s saw Chris Froome win the stage and yellow jersey meaning Team Sky will have to control the race today.


Stage 5 Wrap: no sooner did the flag drop at KM0 did the attacks fly. A hectic start made the race hard to control. The race slowly took shape as the route became more steady and by then Daniel Teklahaimanot had done enough to take the polka-dot mountains jersey. Despite a tailwind up the Romanche valley, a breakaway of five riders struggled to stay clear as Tinkoff, BMC and briefly FDJ and Orica-Greendge led the peloton to the foot of the final climb. Mikel Landa attacked, a lure dangling in front of the yellow jersey group: too dangerous to let ride away, to dangerous to reel in and get countered by Sergio Henao or Chris Froome. Froome was biding his time as usual, not reacting to early accelerations but trying to ride in the most linear fashion possible so at first he looked to be dropped. Sure enough he attacked within the last three kilometres and Alberto Contador and Richie Porte followed but Contador was displaying that rictus grin, his tell that he was giving it everything and moments later he cracked. Porte and Froome linked up like the old days and in the finish Froome seemed to pour on the power to pull away from Porte. It looked decisive but leaves all the GC contenders within seconds of each other.

Vaujany Dauphine Chris Froome

Behind Fabio Aru and Thibaut Pinot were the main losers of the day; Pinot seems relaxed, saying he’s simply not in form but adding he can’t work out why while Aru is the greater concern because he hasn’t shown any climbing ability all season.

The Route: another short stage. Just six kilometres on the flat and then it’s uphill. A shock to the system awaits with the Col de Champ Laurent, a steep climb on a narrow road – and an even more narrow approach to the foot of the climb – and a series of twisting hairpin bends in woodland which line out the peloton and allow attackers to quickly get out of sight if the peloton lets it. There’s a brief descent before the route picks up the Col du Grand Cucheron, a much wider road and if the gradient picks up it feels more steady. A high speed descent follows.

The Col de la Madeleine won’t on TV but you’re bound to see its effects. 19km at 7.9% makes this a giant and if the profile looks level it often goes up in steps. It’s unlikely to be decisive – even if Alberto Contador wanted to go wild on the climb the roads after don’t suit a raider – but it will drain many riders. A reciprocal descent follows and then a series of balcony roads on the side of the valley via the first category climb to Les Frasses, 8km at 6.5% and then

The Finish: 12km at 6.6% and a wide ski station access road. As the profile shows the slope varies along the way. After the early hairpins it’s got some long straight sections before arriving in the swank ski resort of Méribel and it’s uphill all the way to the line.

Chris Froome Vaujany

The Contenders: Chris Froome again? He only leads Richie Porte by seven seconds now so he needs to get away rather than come into the finish with any of his rivals and if he can’t drop them then he needs to take the time bonus so either way he’ll want the stage win again. The long steady climb to the finish suits Team Sky’s mountain train.

Alberto Contador has promised to remedy yesterday’s disappointment. How? He was bettered by Chris Froome and Team Sky have a strong team here and given he’s so close on GC a consolatory stage win seems hard but if things didn’t click yesterday he’s still in good shape as his prologue shows.

Richie Porte could do everything Froome could yesterday. He lost a little ground in the finishing straight but that might be because he was working so hard just prior to that, apparently despite team orders. Now he could try to sit tight and then snipe the stage win and time bonus.

Dan Martin was strong yesterday. He couldn’t follow the attacks immediately but hauled his way back on the flatter sections of the climb. If he can hang in there he might have a second chance.

Just four names cited so far but it’s hard to see beyond them given the climbing and the still unsettled nature of the race. Adam Yates was good yesterday but comes close rather than being able to land the big win, tomorrow might suit him more. Otherwise a breakaway could stay away but Sky and others will be filtering exactly who stays away and it’s hard to pick names. Thomas De Gendt is a perpetual attacker but this stage could be 100km to short for him. Thibaut Pinot might try something given the cooler, damp conditions which he likes.

Chris Froome
Richie Porte, Alberto Contador, Dan Martin

Weather: a top temperature of 22°C in the valleys and a good chance of rain showers in the mountains. The wind will gust at times too.

TV: coverage starts at 4.00pm and 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.

51 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 6 Preview”

  1. Froome is a phenomenal rider but I will say it I cannot force myself to like him. He is unnaturally thin and kind of repulses me. I cannot help to think that Froome and Porte are drinking Sky cool aid for luck of better term. I don’t think that is any less dangerous than hematocrit over fifty and should be followed closely. Totally biased opinion without science to back me up so save me those comments.

      • One exception being Pinot who always appears fleshy-faced and solidly made. Porte is rounder faced than many while Bardet looks even more fragile that Froome.

      • This is a fair assessment of my clearly biased comment. However, just for shits and giggles take a look at Kwiatkowskis physique last year vs now – clearly transforming a la Froome who started his career weighing 75 kg and is down to about 64 kg. Just the body doesn’t really like that so Kwiato is sick race after race. But when it does adjust to the cool aid he may still become a grand tour rider – something Lefevre told him he’d never be. It is sort of amazing how these transformations happen at Sky – Quickstep simply not that interested in winning?

        • Has Kwiatkowski lost weight? I’ve not seen it reported/measured, only one photo about him looking thinner at Team Sky… which was taken in October last year when technically he was still at EQS? Seeing him in out and about he doesn’t look much different this year to previous years.

          • What about Poels, he was a quickstepper 2 years ago, i could have bet my house he will never win la doyenne. Not only that but he also beat Kirienka in a ITT this year in Vuelta Valennciana (wich he also won of course).


    Sorry, I just needed to get that off my chest. It looked just like the old days. Maybe it’s Stockholm syndrome, but Porte just doesn’t seem to have the mental ability to not obey froome.

    Okay, I’ll go now.

    • Porte needs as much time between himself and Contador first then he can work out how to put time into Froome. If he eases back too early, waiting for Froome to do a turn, he could get distanced (which happened approaching the line) if Froome decides to open up – then the chasers have a closer target perhaps? I’m sure there are words uttered between former teammates that we are not party to. Plenty of climbing and descending left still, so it certainly isn’t in the bag yet.

      • +1 for minority position that Porte rode intelligently by working with Froome. He arguably put more time into Contador than if he’d merely sat on, and drove a wedge into the GC table.

        Boulting and Millar in ITV criticised Porte, then in the same breath said Contador isn’t finished and Froome hasn’t got it in the bag. If the strength of the Tinkoff team is a threat to Froome and Sky then that goes double for Porte and BMC.

        Whatever your allegiances (I’m probably the only Brit rooting for Bertie) the Dauphine again provides great racing.

          • So do you think if he’d sat on Froome’s wheel he would have been strong enough to jump Froome in the final 100m, getting a gap and the bonus seconds and giving him a chance of winning the race?

            I don’t, and I don’t think Porte did either. He knows how good he felt yesterday and he’s ridden with Froome enough to be able to assess how strong he is. You can argue Froome beat him mentally, but I just think he rode intelligently/pragmatically, whether that’s for ‘just’ a podium or to make the top step a 2 horse race.

    • Not just you. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Froome exploited their friendship in my opinion. ITV coverage in the UK, post stage, gave the impression that Porte received a telling off from BMC for his lapse. Rightly so!

      I’m not a particular fan of either rider, but I hope Porte has learned his lesson and finds a way to grind his old boss down or cashes in the favour he is owed… ??

  3. ‘The race slowly took shape’
    Great racing again, I like the shorter mountain stages anything that makes it harder for one team to control, the better. Thanks as always.

  4. It was encouraging to see, but I’m a little confused as to why FDJ were pulling so hard at the base of the last climb. Was Pinot feeling good until the real ramp arrived and then realised it wasn’t to be his day? Was it just for position?

  5. What Froome lacks in style and elegance he certainly makes up for in sustained power output when needed. The old story line of seemingly under pressure, or simple riding at a controlled pace early on continues. The final frenzy of rotation and speed is always impressive to watch, if somewhat undignified to purists.

    SKY are supposed to have the strongest team in the race, but once the action starts, even when they have collectively not sniffed the front all day and with the notable exception of an under performing Landa, they appear to go AWOL. Part of the plan ?

    • Both Poels & Henao was there. Poels paced Froome on lower slopes. Henao covered Martin’s acceleration which AC followed. Not sure why he wasn’t pacing Froome to bridge that move. Maybe it’s just too steep for drafting to have an effect and he would just disrupt Froome’s own pacing? Or maybe he still holds a grudge against Sky for unnecessarily forcing him to miss the Giro? Anyway, he got dropped/dropped away the instant Froome made contact and you can read that either as cracking or saving energy.

      As for the three remaining, Rowe, Standnard & Puccio, they are flat guards. They set a fierce tempo approaching the climb and dropped away once job is done.

  6. A beautiful race. It was a nice surprise to notice the large dam so many times seen on the Alpe d’Huez day This time they rode it upwards. Maybe Dan Martin attacked a little bit too early. I can understand he wanted the maillot jaune and needed a half a minute on his rivals but it could have cost him a podium place. Still, a bold move which made me yell and jump up and down ;-D

  7. I think Landa could be a really important team mate for Froome in the Tour. He is clearly respected by the other GC as a threat so could be a great card to play. Although i don’t know where this would leave Thomas as for this to work Landa needs to still be in contention.

    If Landa has the form I think he must be the ‘other’ protected rider as he can put in sharp quick attacks to get away and force other rivals into chasing which i don’t see Thomas doing. He has also shown in Giro that is Time Trialing is better than expected which will help.

  8. I miss ‘G’ in the Dauphiné!! And it is a beautiful race for us who loves the Grimpeurs.
    If ‘G’s supposed to be Sky’s no.2 in TdF, why isn’t he in the Alps testing tactics with Froome? Why is he jodling in the Schweiz vallies?
    I don’t want to be disrespectful to Froome but compared in cycling style he does look rather scientific – ‘G’ being the real deal exposing the spirit and essence of cycling. Sorry Froome….. you can’t get my water boiling.

  9. This was Froome’s first real show of climbing legs for the entire year. Let’s not forget how Q & Contador dropped him like a stone in climbs earlier this year.

    The Dauphine is the Team Sky’s main race for building up to the Tour.. Contador, Q & many other riders past and present only treat it as a training race.

    For me, Porte could easily win this. He bridged up easily to Froome and appears to be in form. Mentally though I do not know what is up with Porte.

  10. Nice try by Aru and Contador, but Sky is really impressive today. The “peloton” is left with 13 men, out of whom 4 are Sky. 5 with Richie 😉

    • Funny tweet by the team: “Awesome work by the #SkyTrain They didn’t panic, set a tempo on the Madeleine to haul back Contador”.
      With a photo where Sky (Stannard, Rowe) is pulling a significant peloton. Things were a bit different, apparently (still no images), but I guess they wanted to offer Stannard and Rowe a glimpse of glory, too.
      Or perhaps being 4 out of 13 isn’t what you’d call “set a tempo” (technically, it is – but what a *tempo*!): for sure, they didn’t panic, but I suspect that the other 80-some riders who maybe expected to summit the Madeleine together… *did*.

      • They need to be careful about congratulating themselves, we’re only halfway into the stage and there are two climbs left. Sky could run out of riders, or at least use them up. Porte will like this.

        • Personally, I think that those who really should congratulate themselves are Ag2R… for what we’ve seen until now today, Bardet would deserve taking this race (GC, I mean, not just about the stage). Quite hard, indeed, but that’s very fine racing.

          • IMHO, too much of a passive game by the rest of rival teams during the phase corresponding to the penultimate climb (esp. Tinkoff), they allowed Sky to set their preferred rhythm and to decide how to manage the Bardet situation. I’m going out, now, I’ll discover later how it came out.

        • Porte must be very confident he can break Froome or he’s riding for a podium spot: BMC now working on the front, saving Sky a nice deal of work in a critical phase of the race.

  11. OK, here’s where we need the French speakers – do Pinot and Bardet hate each other that much? How obvious was the “You take the stage, I take the jersey” collaboration? Instead they fiddled around and played right into the hands of Froome and Co. Reminded me of the old BigMig days at the Giro when the Italians raced to be 1st Italian instead of working together to ditch Indurain…they did the same stupid stuff at LeTour a time or two as well. The RAI TV commentators seemed as puzzled as I was….help me understand this…..someone? Am I missing something?

    • They get on very well. It’s probably because Bardet knew he had only 1.40 on the chase group and expected Sky to pull harder so he gave up hopes of the yellow jersey to concentrate on the stage win.

      • There is really a lack of experience on Bardet’s end which plays into Sky hand. Bardet was thinking about stage win whilst he should be thinking about GC.

        That said, you couldn’t quite fault his logic of trying to get his first stage win this year. Sure, he can get the Jersey, but what’s his/AG2R’s chance of holding off a full on Sky attack tomorrow? Not to mention that if they got the Jersey, they also become targets for BMC, Tinkoff & Etixx. Surly AG2R can’t quite hold off the 4 teams together.

        To choose between a stage win & keeping the jersey warm for Froome (and potentially leave oneself open for attacks on all front), surely most would want the former. Maybe his fault was in being undetermined between the two goals for too long rather than pick one and go for it.

        On the other hand, did today’s event mean there is a crack on Sky’s Armor or it’s more a case of Sky called AG2R’s bluff and did just enough to keep the jersey (or it maybe better to consign the jersey for a few seconds and take it back tomorrow?).

    • Reminded me of Stage 14 to Mende at TdF last year, where both played silly games and Cummings coming from behind showed them how to win a stage. These two guys will never be friends. at least they managed not to get caught again today.

  12. Mmph… I only saw the last hour, so faced watching Sky process up a mountain. Looks like another riveting July.
    God, I hope NQ and AC can make it a contest.
    Still, all those who complained that Nibali is ‘not that good’, etc., and seemed to dislike the unpredictability of the Giro should be delighted.
    I’ve only seen the last 3 stages, but I’ve been nowhere near as thrilled as others posting here.
    And there must be some more interesting roads in France than those up to ski slopes – how much longer can the Tour get away with this sort of thing?

    • Yes. Agreed. A friend of mine recently passed on this Analogy, I am sure that she found it from somewhere and others have used it, but it perhaps will cheer up you’re sentiments a little. Certainly did mine.

      “the Tdf was like a U2 concert – good entertainment, but tending to be a bit boring and predictable at the same time, as they continually churn out their “top hits”. Whereas the Giro and Vuelta were like pub gigs – you are never really quite sure what you’re going to get and that as a consequence they were much more interesting but may require some knowledge to appreciate. “

    • And when was LeTour any different? Le Beeg Shew is like the American NFL Superbowl – the showcase event that rarely is a close, exciting contest. Too important for most to take any chances, the perfect scenario for “racing not to lose” instead of “racing to win”. Same with the organizers – would you want to be the one(s) blamed for deciding to introduce “New Coke”? I would never say Le Grand Boucle is easy to win, but I do believe the formula is consistent enough that once you crack it, repeat victories become a bit easier than the other two Grand Tours.

    • I have just been reading a newspaper article (nominally on Sharapova) by Armstrong’s nemesis Walsh. But in passing he turns to cycling and his argument is that the Tour is too long at 3 weeks with just 2 days rest; that such a shattering schedule may have led to a doping culture but anyway now there are days when even the fittest athletes are too exhausted to compete; hence the Tour is often decided in the first two weeks and held on to for the third, somewhat neutering the mountain stages of the last week; that the Dauphine is much more preferable because it is meaningful to the top GC men who contest it, and short enough to mean they remain fresh and cannot sit on any lead they may get but need to contest fiercely each day.

      This would be fine but for the example of the Giro which has a design, team selection and topographical characteristics that have made for thrilling unpredictability over the full three weeks of racing.

      And as J Evans notes the prevalence of formation riding in the modern peloton is not always appetizing and creeps into even a shorter stage race like the Dauphine. (Indeed in the one day classics to their cost, Sky even kept a semblance of formation at Roubaix and BMC suffered as a group at Flanders.) In the past it was a noteworthy tactic –Cipollini, the Red Guard, and then of course HTC High Road; but now they all do it – climbing trains; GC men riding fourth or fifth wheel in their teams at the front from the drop of the flag on each stage and, if they can help it, not getting out of the way even in the last couple of kms of a sprint stage. In the past I think the top riders in a team were generally so much better than their helpers – Mercx wearing out his domestiques who could barely stay with him to refresh him etc. As a result perhaps there was more tactical fluidity and possibly more nous about surfing of the peloton by the generality of riders who did not and could not keep formation. Nowadays the richer teams are filled with such high quality riders that on any given stage the protected men are not necessarily so different from their support –viz Etixx and Sky; so the teams can work the train-method in whatever conditions, particularly as the advent of power meters in races gives them all a metronome to work to.

      • I didn’t read the article by Walsh but, giving from granted that you reported it well, it’s quite an ill-founded opinion, facts-wise.
        What he writes can be barely applied to the last four Tours (in 2015 were the last mountain stages “neutered”? In 2014 the Tour was already decided, but was Hautacam “neutered”? Were Alpe d’Huez and Le Semnoz neutered in 2013?), but it’s… plain false when you think about the previous five!
        Just incredible that something like that can be written! The Tour problem is quite the contrary, I’d say.
        Not to speak of the Dauphiné ad: it’s quite rare that “the top GC men contest it”, if anything the “top two” GT men have an interest contesting it: Contador out of personal attitude and Froome because of his peculiar team preparation.
        The only time I can remember since the Indurain era (the last 20 years or so!) in which *more then two* “top GT riders” were seriously contesting the Dauphiné GC was 2009. Less than half of these editions have been won by “top GC riders” (let’s see, if they’re top riders and they’re contesting it seriously, how does it come that they lose it more often than not?), and we’re speaking of four riders only: Armstrong, Wiggins, Froome and Valverde. And Valverde wasn’t going to race the Tour in 2009 while in 2008 he had one of his worst results ever, considering the circumstances.
        What is it, does he want to say that his Sky friends don’t like the third week while they like so so much the Dauphy? Well, why doesn’t he write down just that instead of cheap talk (if correctly reported)? Embedded journalism, the worst you can read about a war or cycling.

        • +1 (especially the last sentence). The week-long races, generally, are grand tour/classics preparation races, the Dauphine more so than most.

    • Agree with the comments here – but all ASO have to do is vary the parcours a bit to make it more like the Giro. Yes, people will still race not to lose, but you need to provide the opportunities for different styles of riding – something other than the train tactic. Long stages as well as the new fad for short ones, some steeper slopes, non-summit finishes, etc., etc. – not difficult.
      I disagree with Walsh completely: the week-long races don’t provide enough of a challenge to separate wheat from chaff. And it’s no excuse (or reason) to dope. And, as CM says, the Giro shows that this isn’t the case.
      And getting rid of the power meters might help a bit in producing less staid riding.
      NQ is good at long range moves, so hopefully Movistar won’t nullify his adventurousness as they did last year. That seems the only way to beat Froome – wait for the final climb and he’s nigh-on unbeatable. If I can figure that out surely Movistar can – particularly as they have last year as an example.
      I’m not sure that AC is good enough – I hope he is – but he will at least try things.

  13. Echo that J Evans. I always think there is an element of “Calamity” about SKY for some reason, so hopefully July will be interesting.

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