The Moment The Critérium Du Dauphine Was Won

Chris Froome Vaujany Dauphine

Chris Froome attacks in the final kilometres of Stage 5 as the road climbs to the Vaujany ski station. After biding his time on the ascent he attacked and only Richie Porte could follow. This was the moment the race was won.

Start as you mean to go on: the race began with a tripe-twisting mountain prologue and Round 1 to Alberto Contador in the contest with Chris Froome. It was significant as he put 13 seconds into Froome in the short distance. Among the top-10 in the prologue eight would be in the top-10 overall at the finish of the race: Wout Poels (6th on the day) and Jesús Herrada (10th) fell out with Louis Meintjes and Pierre Rolland climbing up.

Nacer Bouhanni commemorated Mohammed Ali’s death with a victory celebration that mimicked a flurry of punches while behind real combat was raging. Katusha’s Jacopo Guarnieri blew a gasket and head-butted Cofidis’s Christophe Laporte who tried to close the door on him and soon elbows, bars and heads were flying. Bouhanni himself tangled with Kristoff while Edvald Boasson Hagen and Sam Bennett were proving cycling is a contact sport too.

Jesus Herrada

Jesus Herrada took a stage win with help from his team mate Dani Moreno, coming round the breakaway riders for the win, an almost overdue win from the promising Spaniard. Behind a crash took out Romain Bardet but this might have been a blessing in disguise because it would give him more freedom to attack later in the race. Fabio Aru won a stage with a late attack – more on him in a moment – and in the final stage before the race went into the Alps Edvald Boasson Hagen took a stage win and with it the points jersey.

It marked a fine week for Dimension Data as Stephen Cummings won the last stage after a giant 50km breakaway and for some time Etixx-Quickstep’s hard chase barely dented his lead and Daniel Teklahaimanot won the mountains jersey too after a battle with Tsagbu Grmay and Thibaut Pinot.

Alpine Triptych
The race rode into the Alps for three short and intense stages that generated furious attacks from the start. Promising but frustrating not to be able to see it on TV. Showing the first half of a race is still a rarity but given short stages usually equal early action we could see producers allocating resources (helicopters, aerial links and satellite time) to this. The race also featured some live onboard camera footage but it’d didn’t add much beyond the novelty.

The first of the Alpine road stages went to the ski village of Vaujany, a good climb because it’s short and selective: selective to prise the riders apart; short to keep the time gaps small. Team Sky put a gold-plated crowbar to work in Mikel Landa. It’s a sign of the team’s dominance that they can deploy grand tour contenders while the other team leaders looked isolated at times, BMC Racing’s Damiano Caruso did his best for Porte, the same for Roman Kreuziger with Contador but neither was in the same league. They’ll have more support in the Tour de France but so will Froome.

On the climb to Vaujany Landa was away with only a few metres and it forced the others to chase while Chris Froome was hanging back, “in difficulty” and “struggling” according to the TV audio but it ought to be a familiar sight as he tried to pace himself rather than respond to every move. Sure enough once he made it to the front he attacked with 2.5km to go and only Richie Porte could follow. Contador cracked a little and this was the decisive moment of the race. Froome was then helped by Porte who pulled against orders from the BMC team car. Round 2 to Froome.

Thibaut Pinot won the next day, he’d been off the pace but wanted to make amends, reportedly pacing up and down the team bus like a caged lion on the start of the stage and he duly went in the breakaway.

I wasn’t just going to stay in the race and follow. That’s everything I detest about modern cycling: stay passive and rest in defensive mode.
– Romain Bardet in L’Equipe

Things were going well for Pinot until Romain Bardet used the descent to bridge up to the breakaway and then his team to drive the break, a textbook example of the relay move Contador had wanted to try by sending Roman Kreuziger up the road.

Bardet’s relay move worked because he had the space to attack after losing time. Contador did not get as much room. He used the Madeleine for attacks, not for him the final summit finish as a means to poach a few seconds he was doing what he did in Paris-Nice with a long range attack. This is one of the benefits of the Dauphiné as a “training race”, it’s like trying to whip the tablecloth off a dining table set with Ikea crockery rather than exquisite porcelain and crystal. It doesn’t matter so much if break a plate or get dropped. Still there was a tiny price and Contador lost a few seconds in the streets of Méribel when Dan Martin attacked, Froome followed and he couldn’t.

Pinot salvaged the stage win, the finish wasn’t a tactical masterclass as Bardet’s repeated surges meant repeated lulls in between and he lost time that could have put him in the overall lead although this, and any eventual win, involves a chain of speculation that can easily be unpicked. There’s a fine balance for Bardet who could probably write a good thesis on Descartes and the mind-body dualism.

The final stage saw more attempts and Contador had Froome out of team mates and on the ropes on the upper slopes of the Col du Noyer with Richie Porte and Romain Bardet in ringside seats, the four strongest riders in the race. Contador kept trying and Porte kept still and as they approached the final climb the overall result was still in play with Froome isolated. But a trio of Sky riders came across and Froome’s yellow jersey looked safe. The other podium places were still up for grabs and Dan Martin took a flyer with Romain Bardet in pursuit while Richie Porte was boxed in. Porte was livid but had one wheel to watch in the sprint and missed it as he was on the other side of the road and he’d also surrendered 16 seconds the previous day. He can take consolation from his strong riding during the week and on the road to Vaujany he was the only rider able to follow Froome.

Dan Martin was a revelation thanks to his consistency. Often excellent in the mountains, often disappointing too but this week he was riding well every day. As well as his regularity what impressed was his surging sprinting, not only did he hang with the leaders in the mountains most of the time when it came to the finishing straight he could put time into his rivals with his jump. Can he keep up the consistency ahead of the Tour de France’s visit to his adopted home of Andorra?

Etixx-Quickstep had a great week with Julian Alaphillipe taking the white jersey. We’ve known he can sprint for years, we’ve known he’s got one of the best uphill punches going and in California he showed us he can time trial too. Now he did very well in high mountains but wasn’t front group material when the crunch came. What to do: try to match compatriots like Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet or remain the versatile rider who seems to be able to win everywhere except the high mountains? Luxurious choices await.

Fabio Aru Tournon sur Rhone

Things went downhill for Fabio Aru. He took a stage win thanks to a bold attack and a brave descent but it was the sporting equivalent of going for a job interview, putting on a suit and discovering a €50 note in a pocket: a pleasant surprise but not the success you wanted. When the test came in the Alps Aru left the race with little to add to his CV: 36th in the prologue looked like a bad start and in all the Alpine stages he managed little better with only 35th place in Vaujany. He’ll now return to altitude training at Sestriere while notional team mate Vincenzo Nibali does his altitude camp at the Passo San Pellegrino several hundred kilometres away.

Tour de l’Avenir: a mention of just how many young riders thrived. Bardet and Pinot are established riders. Adam Yates and Julian Alaphilippe battled for the white jersey, Louis Meintjes made the top-10 too. German champion Emmanuel Buchmann continues his progress. Giro finisher Valerio Conti still found the energy to show in the mountains and several others had their moments too.

One team who started well were Wanty-Groupe Gobert, they seemed to get in most of attacks only the race ended on a sour note with Enrico Gasparotto and Bjorn Thurau blocked from starting the final stage after cortisol tests. These are not anti-doping controls but they will require some explanation if the team wants to rebuild the credit it was establishing with ASO for more wildcards. A Facebook post mentions “inflammation” but more detail is needed: what was the diagnosis, the exact treatment, was a TUE sought? et cetera

The Verdict
Another good edition with a hard fought contest for the overall win and a result that wasn’t decided until the finishing straight of the final stage with Bardet and Martin getting the reward for their aggressive, attacking racing at the expense of Richie Porte’s caution. Froome won but wasn’t head and shoulders beyond the rest, this was a victory of a few seconds. He lost time to Contador in the prologue and struggled to contain Dan Martin in the finish. Last year he beat Tejay Van Garderen on bonus seconds too before riding away with the Tour de France.

The focus turns to the Tour de Suisse this week and the Route du Sud where Nairo Quintana returns from Colombia.

98 thoughts on “The Moment The Critérium Du Dauphine Was Won”

  1. Excellent racing, Sky was by far the strongest team, must have been awesome for Froome to watch his wingmen swoop in at the foot of the final climb, ride to the front and escort him home.

    • I’ve no idea why, but I felt oddly emotional watching that. You can almost imagine the simultaneous surge of relief felt by Froome and despondency felt by everyone else. I also imagine the Sky trio were wearing wicked grins as they casually rolled to the front.

      Overall an excellent installment of the Dauphine and typically excellent coverage on this site. Thanks again for all your hard work. In the continued absence of a donate button, I’ve just ordered a supporters jersey and socks to go with my cap. Will wear them with pride.

  2. Can’t argue with any of that; it does what it says on the tin.
    Good race, with lots of interesting points to consider.
    Thanks as ever for the sterling work recently Inrng, you’ve been churning out quantity and quality.

  3. Froome might have only won by a matter of seconds but it did seem he (and his team) had more in reserve. The main plan seemed to be to beat Alberto Contador and in that they easily achieved. Perhaps Romain Bardet is a contender in July, Dan Martin (unfortunately) is not likely to be. Richie Porte looks like he is destined to be forever a bridesmaid at the wedding, a shame as he seems to be be a nice guy but he does seem to lack that little bit extra that defines a champion. One thing Chris Froome seems to have developed is the ability to avoid “bad luck”, random chance affects everyone but the top players always seem to be luckier than those who dont quite make it. Most of the time that is not down to chance but determination and planning. In the current era both Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali seem to have this knack too, others like Andy Schleck not.

    • Schleck’s failures were not down to bad luck, they were generally down to a lack of courage. One prime example being his failure to attack Evans earlier in the 2011 TDF, leaving it all until the final few mountain stages.
      An allergy to descending didn’t help.

      • Andy Schleck’s fantastic attack when he won on the Galibier was simply one of the best rides by a GC contender in recent TdF memory, but it didnt win him the race. I also remember the supposed “bad luck” of the dropped chain when he was going head to head with Contador in the Pyrenees (Tourmalet?). Richie Porte seems to have the same issues (eg last year’s Giro). Chris Froome does seem to have significantly sharpened up his act since the 2014 TdF, he deliberately pushes his way to the front even in sprint stages, Contador does the same, Vincenzo Nibali picks up time bonuses at intermediate sprints etc. It is the tiny things that make a difference, they add up to the difference between a champion and an also ran. Sad when seemingly nice guys dont win but that is the nature of sport

        • Schleck’s attack was great – but he also had three days in the second week in the Pyrenees where he did nothing. Had he actually challenged Evans in the mountains more often than he did he might have won.
          The dropped chain – I’ve no idea if that’s bad luck or bad technique: the bike riders will have an opinion. Either way, he gained more than double that time on Contador when Contador was caught behind F Schleck when he crashed on the pave and Cancellara steamed on with A Schleck in his wake.
          No excuses.
          Same for Porte: didn’t attack once, worked with Froome like a teammate and then positioned himself badly and got himself caught behind the Sky boys in that last sprint.
          Last year’s Giro also wasn’t bad luck: he broke the rules.
          I never understand why people are interested in riders’ personalities: we don’t hang out with them, so what does it matter? And either way, we don’t know them and they’re not necessarily being themselves when on camera.

        • While it was a great, long range attack by Schleck, I’ve always thought Evans’ was one of the best rescue rides in the modern era. He ground it out over two huge climbs, dragging a big group of contenders with him, and minimized his time loss. Nothing devastating or flamboyant; sheer grind, determination and will.

    • Froome definitely appears the most prepared and has very solid composure right now. However, he has had his share of bad luck though, specifically his catastrophic 2014 TdF and the various factors that led to his late development.

    • That’s exactly what I said to my colleague this morning. Porte is often the last one to be dropped, but I feel he is at his peak and he just doesn’t have that tiny bit extra to make the difference between holding on and then attacking. I would like to see different, I like him too, but I just feel this is as good as it gets for him. Which is an awesome level, but just below what is needed to be that great champion.

  4. The top photo looks like Contador is riding an invisible bike back down the mountain!! Had to do a double take to see it was a fan on the side of the road!?

  5. I had to laugh at the description “tripe-twisting mountain prologue”.
    That brings back some memories – my grandma used to boil tripe in a big pan.
    The smell was absolutely disgusting.
    It tells you something when anyone that entered her house was on the verge of throwing up whilst the dog was pacing around, salivating.
    Yet the old timers used to eat it back in the day, and the French probably still do 🙂

    • Hang on, wasn’t your namesake associated with black pudding? I’m sure there’s a Goodies episode I could cite as evidence on YouTube somewhere.

    • Can’t think of anything better than a girt plate of tripe. Yes plenty of good tripe restaurants where I hang out in the Mayenne. Plus Brittany/Calvados/Normandy. Picked the habit up whilst living up near Wigan in the 80’s. Times were hard. But not as hard as they are now??

  6. Dull race if you’re not a Sky/Froome fan. That’s not blaming Sky; that’s blaming the others. Only Contador tried to actually win: Bardet made an absolute hash of it (seemingly not understanding the most basic of tactics), whilst Porte rode for a podium and still failed.

    • Watching Porte for BMC was no different to watching him if he was still part of Froome’s Sky train. I agree that it was a fairly dull race, compared to other races this year.

  7. My over-riding feeling after watching the Dauphine is that the Tour is going to be boring. Unless somethinng happens to Froome his team is so strong I just can’t see anyone getting near him. It’s difficult to put anyone in difficulty when they have Landa, Thomas, Henao and Poels to either set a rip roaring pace or pace them back on. The only way for interest to be generated it seems is for one of the lesser big guns – i.e Bardet or Pinot – to be given rope and gain a bunch of time somehow whilst Contador et al are being watched. Or for Nibali to be allowed away in the belief that he isn’t going for the overall.

    • Agreed. Contador will attack, but I’m not sure he’s strong enough. Quintana probably is strong enough, but will he have the courage to go for a long-range effort?

      • As a side note, it can be observed something curious: Contador hasn’t shown, for the greatest part of his career, a physiological propensity for the long-range efforts usually associated with attacks from far away.
        He’s been training for that in recent years, quite obviously, and age helps, in that sense, but it’s not something that originally belongs to his build, as it is, for instance, in Nibali’s case.
        He’s still very good, but you can often observe that (with a handful of exceptions) he ends up struggling a bit – when compared to other riders in similar situations, relatively to their respective talent – which means that this isn’t his *optimal way* to perform.
        Tactical reasons encourage him to go for this option, and the above mentioned age factor matters, too, but it’s a bit like Cancellara improving his sprint and his overall stamina to try and win the final reduced sprints in the Classics instead of needing to arrive solo. It worked in crucial occasions, but Fabian could never make a true sprinter out of himself (and he lost other qualities in the process, be it for the effect of specific training in the general balance of his characteristics or, again, simply due to aging).
        To oversimplify, Aru and Froome are a bit like “the original” Contador, while, among the top GT riders, Valverde and especially Quintana are more like Nibali. What’s peculiar is that Valverde never appeared prone to exploit his ability (he did, and was both spectacular and effective, in a few occasions), whereas Quintana throve on that, and in the most spectacular ways, all along his neo-pro years, being then “disciplined” by his team.

        • I think you just touched on the crucial point about Quintana. It’s not only that he has the TdF in his legs, which seems to be the only angle Unzue takes, but he’s also got the potential to do a long-range, “Mourenckx”-style, solo cavalcade, for generations to remember. We all know he’s not better than Froome over 5kms of uphill finish. But he’s surely better than him over 70kms of “mano a mano” over 3 HC climbs.
          But to witness this, Unzue must be convinced, first, that Sky’s “galactic-domestiques” can be done away with by Movistar (Valverde helping, and Moreno, and many others, as they have a very deep climbing team, and with fierce, irregular intensities) and Quintana himself (remember 2012 Dauphiné, where he kept the whole Sky-train at bay on his own), but, capitally, that it’s worth it. That one hugely great victory is worth 5 “Indurain-style” ones.

          • Indurain had a great style. Remember him attacking the whole peloton in a LBL style stage on his own. That was in great style. (1995, stage 7)

            c/p from Chris (posted on

            It is a fallacy that Indurain didn’t attack and waited for the time trials. For example:
            – 1991 – attacks on the descent of the Tourmalet and rode the Col d’Aspin and Val Louron in a two man break with Chiappucci
            – 1992 – Counter attacked on the Col de Mont Cenis (the penultimate climb) and chased Chiappucci all the way to Sestriere in a group of four
            – 1993 – attacked at the base of the Galibier with Rominger which demolished most of his rivals
            -1994 – attacked at Hautacam well down the climb and only Leblanc could stay with him
            – 1995- attacked en route to Liege and a few days later at La Plagne
            Hardly the actions of a rider who hid behind his team. Indurain was more than capable of looking after himself in the mountains and as the above shows he usually put in one big day in the mountains which put time into most of his rivals. However, he was generous in letting others take the stage wins if they can hang on to his back wheel and it was boring to watch because he made it look so easy, not because his tactics were. How many Tour leaders nowadays are willing to go man on man without team mates as far from the finish as Indurain was?

            I hope Chris doesn’t mind?

          • Not disagreeing with the thought thread above. But lot’o ifs for a long range ride away from the peleton kilo-bender. We would love to see it, but lots has go right to roll those dice.

        • Interesting points – and at least AC managed to take time on CF in the time trial.
          NQ needs to be brave – everyone can see that, but can Movistar?
          Will be interesting to see if Aru can pick up his game – and how Nibali is (although I really doubt that he can factor in the overall – not if AC couldn’t last year – but who knows…?)
          Valverde seems to be the most conservative of riders – so many times I’ve been frustrated by his not attacking (mostly in one day races). I can’t think of a time of him ever doing a long range move in a grand tour and thus didn’t even know he had such a talent. Is he doing the Tour? I thought he was resting for the Olympics. He should (as should Nibali) – and target the Vuelta: lots of people will be knackered (I’ll be hoping Kruijswijk wins).

      • I guess the word “boring” depends on what we want to see.
        As analogy, in soccer if you want to see goals, I suggest you watch Barcelona vs Getafe (sorry any Getafe fans!)… If you go for a Barcelona vs Real Madrid, you may see a game with not many goals, less opportunities, but great to see how each team try to crack each other.
        For most part of the game, the action is quite contained, as taking some risks can actually define the game against you, and, as a consequence you have less goals… but once you have a goal, will be an explosion of emotions…
        For me is similar to cycling. See these very aggressive rides and an stages packed with action will be much less common in TdF than any other race (even Vuelta or Giro). The team are so much stronger that is hard to have major differences and, as defend is easier than attack, we may see a race with much less action.
        Everybody blames Movistar for not trying too much last year, but lets remember Nairo on TdF13 (Ax stage?) with a long range attack (indeed he was partially riding for Valverde, but it was also a strong move), just to be caught later and droped.
        I actually think the TdF will be more “boring” (i.e. less attacks) than previous years as I think there will be more teams fighting for podium rather than winning. Besides the top 3, (Froome, Quintana, Contador) we have Pinot, Barguil, Bardet, TVG, Porte, Aru, Martin,… I think is one of the best line-ups in recent years. Although most of them are not my top pick for winning, is a very strong field to fight for a podium.
        As a consequence, Sky may actually have more help than in recent years, as any attack may be defended by many other teams (specially if Froome is able to, once more, get a 1-2 min advantage early in the race).
        At a side note, I am not sure if was on purpose, letting Bardet go just enough that he became a contender, but didnt get the yellow. It may be a nice trick as it shown that others should help and commit also. The big losers from Bardet attach were Tinkoff and BMC and not Sky.
        In summary, if “exciting” means lots of attacks and long range “bravery” I think indeed TdF will be boring… but due to the level of the top 10 i think we may have a good TdF if we look into the small nuances and strategies of the race and how each team will play…

        • The riders you mention outside the top three all tend to cancel out each other’s attacks in the Tour. They know they can’t win, so they’re trying to hang on to 6th or whatever.
          There was a big difference between NQ2013 and NQ2015. Surely, he must know that he should have attacked Froome from greater distance last year. I hope he does: I’d like to see a race (don’t really care who wins).

    • Disagreed. Quintana has the strength, guts and team to put Froome and Sky to the test. Very much looking forward to it!

      • I love Quintana but he aint gonna do it on his own. Previously in the Tour MOV have deployed tactics as per ‘insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’

        1. allow Sky to hit the peloton with a detonator on the first big climbing day

        2. leave it till the last week to really attack Froome and Sky

        • Quitana is Froome’s main rival. Movistar are the only team with riders that can truly hurt Sky.

          I might add Astana, but they seemed a fractured team in 2016 compared to 2015. Nibali’s departure and Aru’s ascent seem to have divided loyalties amongst the team.

          Van Garderen had a great 2015 TdF, but hasn’t really shown the form to repeat last year. I assume that they’re going to try a double threat with Porte, but unless you get the loyalties right this causes problems out on the road – who attacks, who rides tempo, who chases…..even the Schleck brothers cocked this up (Frank didn’t really ever ride for his brother as a domestique, and could never distance their rivals with an attack – only Andy was going to do that). Anyway, if Teejay doesn’t go Porte still looks like he’s in Froome’s pocket.

          Neither FDJ or AGR look like they have a team that can really control a race.

          The biggest disappointment so far this year is Garmin Cannondale – not only did they combine to make one of the best jerseys in the peloton the worst (Europcar lite anyone?!) but they diminished their team in equal measure to the jersey. Pierre Roland must scratch his eyes when he looks the mirror, and be dreaming that little Tommy is somewhere in the breakaway.

          • ‘…even the Schleck brothers cocked this up’???? Possibly the worst tacticians I have ever seen on a bicycle. Never worked out the one-two attack.

            ‘Van Garderen had a great 2015 TdF’? – he didn’t finish.

          • He was in the mix till he got sick. He was proving hard to shake and was poised to take advantage if Froome and Quintana messed up… don’t need to finish to have a revelation and he certainly showed his potential.

          • Good post, RQS (TJVG’s decent TDFs were 2012 and 2014 (I know the latter was a typo in your post:))

            Rolland is not showing any signs of improvement at Garmindale – maybe too early. Talansky remains an utter conundrum.

          • Sam, as RQS said ‘Van Garderen had a great 2015 TdF, but hasn’t really shown the form to repeat last year’, I assume that he/she was meaning 2015, as written.
            For me, not finishing a race does not make it great (Kruijswijk was the strongest rider in the Giro, but I doubt he thinks of it as ‘great’).
            TVG may or may not have been strong come the end of last year’s TDF. This year he has the opportunity to show whether or not he has the abilities to be anything other than a possible podium one day.

    • I guess we’ll see but I think (hope?) you’re wrong – but much depends on Quintana/Movistar and how much risk they are willing to take. We’ve seen them cause difficulty for Sky by being more aggressive earlier in a stage and for the sake of the race, I hope they do that again – but earlier in the 3 weeks.

      In general, finishes on 5-6% wide ski station roads are going to nullify action (as per the finale yesterday) – the Tour needs to avoid these and put in some less famous irregular climbs (which it seems to have, e.g. up to the Emerson dam) to lessen the effect of team dominance, and also try and create opportunities for long-range raids by having the start of the last mountain close to the bottom of the penultimate descent.

      • I think the parcours is the main reason I am worried about the Tour being dull. I had no such reservations about the Giro (I never do!)

        • The Giro course was particularly excellent this year, and we all acknowledged it when it became public. Froome and Brailsford should have smelled greatness when a great race was being offered.

          • Froome was intrigued by it, but the sponsors ultimately pay the wages, and the sponsors know that the Giro barely gets a mention in the wider UK media.

          • MikeF – this year for sure, but then there wasn’t a single Brit riding. It might be a cart/horse thing – if Sky sent a Froome/Stannard/Rowe/Thomas/Kenyick etc outfit to the Giro one year I’m sure it would get a lot more coverage….(also if Cav, Dowsett, Cummings, Yates Bros etc turned up too)

          • Noel, the British media’s accountants holding the purse strings (believe me, they are VERY important in coverage strategy) wont sign off on travel for journos etc to cover a 3 week race other than the Tour, unless Wiggins is riding it (see 2013 for example of the British media flocking to a GT other than the Tour), or possibly Froome in the future. Even Cav couldnt draw the mass coverage – and the names that are so much lesser known to the British public like Stannard, Kennaugh, Dowsett etc, are not enough of a draw.

            What this debate omits is the simple fact that Jeremy Darroch and James Murdoch are infatuated by the Tour. And they pay the wages to all inc Brailsford as well as Froome.

          • thx Sam – if James M is supposedly a proper enthusiast maybe one day he’ll fancy the Giro…. we can hope – or maybe it’s a better race with Sky’s B team attending anyway…

    • I’m far from optimistic about an exciting TdF as it’s usually far less than the hype. Maybe the pre-race hype is more to blame than the race itself? But guys like Aru, Nibali and Quintana have nothing to lose so they should race to win. Contador as well. Vive LeTour!

  8. Great summary. I don’t know what porte was thinking being on the wrong side of the road and getting caught out. He seems to switch off at very important times. Happened in the Giro last year with the flat and crash. I am hoping he can last the 3 weeks of the tour and stay healthy and fit because he is climbing well but may have an off day and that is one thing Froome seems to manage well ( saying that without the team last year on Alpe it could have been carnage.

    I for one think the tour is going to be awesome. Froome wasn’t stratospherically above everyone else here and everyone has a bit of time to recover and prepare. Quintana ,Nibali – all the big guns will be out and then we will see how the rubber meets the road.

  9. “… it was the sporting equivalent of going for a job interview, putting on a suit and discovering a €50 note in a pocket: a pleasant surprise but not the success you wanted.”

    Love this.

  10. I thought the Dauphine ended up overall being a fairly drab, predictable and uninteresting race. The course, considering its location was uninspiring, leading to the normal monotonous script being played out yet again. ASO might well be one of the most important promoters the sport has, but they lack the flair and innovation required to move the sport forward.

    Before I am accused of being too negative, it was interesting to see the further development and improvement of several French riders.

    • What would make the race more exciting? A race not decided until the final stage, long range attacks, Contador and Froome swapping the race lead and battling hard, new riders coming through, unused summit finishes? All happened last week.

      • I find uphill finishes essentially boring and predictable. Once Froome won the first one you knew he wasn’t getting bettered by anyone important in any of the others. I agree that the ASO lack flair, especially compared to their Italian counterparts. They are obsessed with uphill finishes. A few finishes after a tricky descent or a short sharp climb or something would be an improvement. After you’ve seen one French ski station access road you’ve seen them all.

      • Well, the fact that a couple of the top contenders had an ambivalent approach, to say the least, to GC didn’t help.
        In bigger races you often see, for ill or good, that people are thinking about GC even when it’s just a top-5, not to speak of going for the final win.
        Here Porte and Bardet – how could I say? – perplexed me on several occasions. And, according to their statements, they hadn’t very clear ideas themselves, either.

        And the rest of the top-ten in GC was about following wheels, most of the time. Young riders whom I do appreciate a lot, Alaphilippe, Mentjes, Yates, even Rosa, one of my favourite riders (who isn’t that young)… I fully understand why they were racing like that, but it didn’t make for utter excitement.

        Nor the fact that most of the *hard battling* between Alberto and Chris, face to face, lasted for about a couple of kms each time (though, note that I couldn’t watch Noyer on TV and I could be biased by wrong reports).

        The long range attacks were also hindered by a lack of clear perspectives or full engagement by some (or all) of the participants (Tinkoff not stopping any of the gregari on the Madeleine… mind, you can physically stop, no need to stay in the break; and then, given that Madeleine had looked like all about softening up the field, why did they let Sky set their comfort pace on the following climb? And what about Aru? Etc.).

        It’s like several guys are trying things, but their main worry is (and rightly so) not to spoil their preparation with any *improper* effort. This doesn’t make it too exciting, either.

        All that said, I’m not as negative as this comment makes me look (it’s a reply). It was a good Dauphiné… being a Dauphiné. Nothing great, but a few glimpses of intensity springing true interest, and an overall solid show. Like last year after all, or most years.

      • One good flat TT would have been needed. One long saw-like mountain stage, impossible to control with no uphill finish, would have been great.
        What was missed was any sense of agony, of riders using only their willpower to stay alive in the race for minutes and minutes and minutes and minutes… Cycling, you know.

  11. “Dan Martin was a revelation thanks to his consistency.” Words up there with “That pig flew really well”, and “Surprisingly cold in Hell today” for sheer unexpectedness.

    • Big question is whether he can do it for three weeks? Even one good day though would be impressive, he was sprinting past Froome, Porte and Contador last week which would be good for a stage win in the Tour de France.

      • He’s had a stage win in the TdF before, not to mention classic wins, but consistency was never his forte in the past, and snark aside, it’s good to see him finish high up in the standings every day, rather than winning one stage with panache.

      • Is Dan Martin really aiming for the Tour de France? I would suspect he would look further than that, as a winner of both the LBL and Lombardia monuments he is among the prime candidates for the olympics road race. He is likely able to race TdF again next year, but the chance to win the olympics comes very seldom in a riders’ life. He’s got to give it a go!
        Might be a fun twist in the TdF if Valverde, Nibali, Martin and Bardet drop the GC priority and fight for stage wins instead, using each mountain stage as a rehearsal for the olympics.

  12. “Porte was livid…”

    He can be livid all he likes, but as you said he had one wheel to follow. Stupid racing by him and he has no-one to blame but himself. Contrast Porte’s positioning with Alaphillipe tracking Yates. When Yates jumped yesterday Alaphillipe stuck to his back wheel to make sure he didn’t loose the 6 seconds. Porte seemed to have switched off.

  13. I loved the racing and always love the scenery. Well loved it aside from 2 rides. Sky f***ed up the race and took the joy out of it for me. When a rider only has to do twice an effort for 2 or 3 km to win the race and the rest does his team, it is a farce. They destroy the race for every viewer who isn’t a fan of them and they are bad for cycling. I always wonder why the other teams and riders don’t do something about it. At least now there is hope: Next year, when the Dauphiné isn’t WT anymore, there is at least the possibility that sky gets no invitation.

  14. Satisfying to see Martin and Bardet make the race and get on the podium at the expense of Porte who didn’t risk anything all week.

    You mention Aru what happened to Rodriguez?

  15. One got the impression from the Dauphine that this was a bit like a weigh-in. A bit of strutting, some shadow boxing, some token insults/compliments and general posturing, but only the young guns firing their best shots. No point showing too much, with the main contenders wanting to save it for the ring…..which would explain Contador falling off the podium.

    • Nah, not buying it. Bert would not have been happy with being distanced like that by not just Froome but Porte etc on the mountain stages. Nothing I saw makes me feel that Bert has the beating of Froome next month.

  16. All great thoughts and observations. I will weigh in with the Dauphine is a race IMHO to watch the younger GC riders and ignore the GT team leaders to a degree. Watch who is next in line if your team leader fails or gets injured. Pecking orders are being established and written yards behind the top 8 GC.

    Fitting to see the French riders and teams podium its been a bit of a wait.

    • Am I the only one who was at least vaguely interested in the best climber classification? Not even a mention of Teklehaimanot from anyone!
      Granted the mountain jersey was contested mainly by minor artists (after Contador relinquished it, but IMHO that only made it more fascinating as the smaller teams had a realistic objective to go for and we could see – or, actually, we often couldn’t see because the relevant action had usually taken place before the satellite time was booked – how they sent their riders in the breakaway to poach the mountaintop points.

      • Didi doing a pretty good job alround of targetting acheivable objectives and hitting them – reminds me of a young OGE in that repect… you wonder why more of the mid budget teams don’t do a bit more of this .. Cannondale etc etc….

      • This was not an interesting side show. Far from it. There were not enough climbs to make it so. Teklehaimanot has started to make collect minor mountain points his speciality without really asserting himself on the GC or stage victories – so really a concerted act of attrition. If there was a rider that was cancelling that out by winning stages or picking up the big points on the high climbs then you could root for one rider or the other, but very banal.

    • Route du Sud… good choice.
      He already collected a good number of race days and, had he done the Dauphiné, he would have entered the Tour with more race days in his legs than Contador, whereas if he finishes the RdS they’ll be on par, with Froome “one short stage race back”.
      Unlike Froome or Aru, this year he has always been racing at high intensity, too, grabbing a couple of GCs in WT races and never finishing out of a GC podium.

      • He will be up against zero competition in RdS, and I can’t imagine what if anything we will be able to glean from his ride, but I look forward to seeing him next month

  17. Seriously how many other cycling blogs include references to cartesian dualism? This and the piece about uci accounts are up there with the very best. Top work as usual mr/mrs inrng!

    • Ha, just seems fitting for Bardet. He hates the label of being an “intellectual” but he’s done his philosophy exams and more and seems to be an interesting character for several reasons, in this instance his ability to be rational and lucid off the bike while an aggressive gambler during the race is striking.

  18. So many fans and readers watch the Dauphine and it’s the first stage race of the year that they’ve seen outside of glimpses at the Giro.

    It must come as a massive surprise to learn that Contador is #1 in the UCI world rankings for 2016 and that he has outclimbed Froome in more stages this year than Froome has bettered him.

  19. First stage of the Route du Sud, about 200 total kms, a couple of categorised climbs and four smaller uphill sections in the first half (about 1500 m. of total altitude gain, I’d say), then some 100 flat kms.

    Quintana went on the attack from the start line, and in 15 kms he was left alone on the front with the 22 years old Quentin Jaregui.
    FDJ prompted a chase but apparently decided to quit after they couldn’t reduce the gap under 5′ during the first hilly 50 kms.
    In the following 20 kms, the gap has raised to more than 11′.

    …what is he up to?!
    I imagine the peloton will reel the couple back in taking advantage of the huge flat section, if they don’t panic, still that has been a funny move.
    However weak the field, to go solo from the start-line (well, with Jauregui) you need to turn the pedals facing a whole lot of wind for… hours?

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