Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 2 Preview

A day characterised by long straight roads more than the climbs, this should be one for the sprinters.

Stage 1 Wrap: the early break went and it stayed away. Thomas de Gendt looked like he was out to mop up the mountains points but as the race reached the finishing circuit the breakaway’s lead wasn’t coming down. Only Dimension Data seemed committed to the chase and this wasn’t enough. De Gendt moved with a lap to go and only Axel Domont could follow. As ever De Gendt barely attacked, he just set such a high pace that all the others were asphyxiated and Domont looked like he was on a motor-pacing session as he fought to hold De Gendt’s wheel. On the final time up the climb De Gendt upped the pace again and cracked Domont rather than attacked him to go solo for the stage win, the yellow jersey as well as a lead in the mountains and points competitions. This morning’s L’Equipe makes an interesting remark that De Gendt has made a career out of taking big wins during stage races while compatriot Jurgen Van den Broeck, now at Lotto-Jumbo, spent his best years trying to win a big stage race and is on the verge of retiring “in complete anonymity”.

The Route: 171km around more of the Forez hills used yesterday. The race starts uphill and the climb of the Croix Blanche has 5km at 5%, a good launchpad for the day’s breakaway. The profile makes the course look mountainous but note the change in elevation is gradual, we’re talking 5% slopes rather than much more, a theme for the whole day.

They cross the finish line with 31km to go and begin a hilly circuit with more 4-5% gradients but the selective part is the narrow road from 25km to go 15km. After this the road widens and returns to the finish.

The Finish: a 4.6km long finishing straight. The difficulty is the gradient, the road rises up to the line at 4%… again. Nothing steeper but just enough to force riders to think about timing, tactics and gearing.

The Contenders: a sprint or a breakaway? Several teams have come with sprinters so we can expect them to chase if they don’t get a rider in the day’s breakaway. Teams can send riders up the road in hope but one thing the can’t do is collect the mountains jersey because De Gendt’s raid yesterday earned him 16 points and winning all of today’s climbs would only bring in 10 points.

The slight uphill finish shouldn’t disadvantage any of the sprinters in the field with the possible exception of Alexander Kristoff who doesn’t seem to be in top form at the moment but should still be a contender.

It’s hard to pick a winner, nobody is on a winning roll and no sooner do you cite a name does doubt appear. Edvald Boasson Hagen has been racking up wins of late but the straight speed run to the line isn’t ideal for him and he’s not the certainty for a stage like this he used to be. Nacer Bouhanni is back after his head injury from the Tour de Yorkshire so to start winning is a big ask. Bryan Coquard is still waiting for that World Tour win. Arnaud Démare hasn’t raced for a month but he’s suited to this dragstrip finish with a slight slope. Otherwise Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrein-Merida), Ben Swift (UAE Emirates) and Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe).

Arnaud Démare, Edvald Boasson Hagen
Nacer Bouhanni, Sonny Colbrelli, Bryan Coquard
Kristoff, Swift, Theuns, Schwarzmann

Weather: a top temperature of 20°C in the plains, half that higher up on the Forez plateau with some sunshine.

TV: the finish is forecast for 4.20pm CET. It should be on the same channel you watch the Tour de France and/or Eurosport.

19 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 2 Preview”

    • I had him as a pick for yesterday but today’s route doesn’t suit him so much. He seems a versatile rider and I wonder if he’s going to save himself for something special in the TT stage? He’s won or placed in mid-distance TTs before.

  1. The moto camera gave us a glimpse of De Gendt’s gearing on his final charge up Mont Pilat.
    Big ring, no cross chaining, it looked like he wasn’t far off his highest gear.

  2. It seemed like De Gendt had come specifically with the mountain jersey in mind.
    I wonder if he’ll have another pop today, not for the stage win but gather some more points?
    Or one of his team mates (e.g. Gallopin) takes some to protect his lead?

  3. Its an interesting point L’Equipe makes. I immediately thought of Tejay van Garderen when reading it and wondered at the logic of some riders who aim for the stars, continually miss, yet never learn from their mistake. De Gendt, who scored a nice hatful of points for my fantasy team yesterday with his win, has never seemed a rider who aimed for too much but has had a laser focus on making his mark in stage races and you can almost guarantee he will be in breaks and often win stages. Van den Broeck and Tejay, there may be others, have thought they were worthy of more but have consistently failed to deliver. Yet both would surely be good enough to nab stages or even mountain jerseys for they are not talentless riders. If only they would pick more realistic targets. Is ending a career with little to show for it really better than picking off stages here and there and maybe one or two of the other jerseys?

    • There is “little to show” in terms of trophies, even status and popularity so we don’t see much but the rider certainly sees one thing: their bank balance. Being a grand tour contender is the fast way to a high six figure salary, or even seven in some cases, even without any wins. A small irony is that Van den Broeck only ever once lifted his arms in celebration during a long career and it was in the Dauphiné when he took a stage win in 2011.

      • Even someone like Jacob Fuglsang who is at beast a fringe contender, seems to do quite well financially. Apart from his olympics silver medal, his wins are generally in small tours, like Tour of Denmark, Tour of Slovenia, Tour of Austria and Tour of Luxembourg. His last individual win was in 2012.

        But lets not forget, that cycling is a difficult sport in which you only win a very small percentage of the events you participate in (unless you were Eddy Merkcx). People who do stage poaching (well) in grand tours or win spring classics are elite operators within their own niche. I am sure there are unique physiological and psychological demands placed on such riders.

        There is no guarantee, that a former GT contender would be able to compete with these guys.

  4. Sonny Colbrelli won the bunch kick yesterday. I recall being impressed by him in the Brabantse Pijl and other races this year so he can get over a bump or two. I think EBH flatters to deceive and he seems to try harder in his native Norway so perhaps his form there isn’t so instructive.

  5. De Gendt is an interesting case. On his day no one can touch him, yet otherwise he is anonymous. I get that he goes for stages not GC, but surely someone capable of laying down such massive watts would, you’d think, make for a great time tiralist or even classics rider in the Boonen/Cancellara mould, but for some reason this isn’t the case.

    Also Jens Keukeleire another name to throw out for a day like today.

    • I think one of De Gendt’s issues is that he hates riding in the peleton and all the stresses that come with it. That’s why you generally find him in a break or hanging on the back of the bunch. In order to be a decent Classics rider then you’d have to be comfortable fighting for position which he isn’t. Which is a shame as I totally agree with you in that he would seem to be a good Classics rider, I mean he even lives and trains on the Belgian classics roads all the time.

  6. I’m the first to enjoy and admire those De Gendt, Voeckler, LLS, or Cummings. But the GC is still the GC, and winning from the break when you are harmless in the GC, because the peloton allows it, against a Domont, Hoogerland or Teklehaimnot, is no major feat. The funny thing is that strong breakaway men, as in De Gendt’s 2012 Giro, or Voeckler’s 2011 TdF, can indeed contest the overall as good as a grey Van Den Broeck, Zubeldia, or Mollema. If those top-class baroudeurs put their minds to staying high in GC while going on breakaways, not only their stage victories would be more valuable, but GTs would become much trickier to control for Sky and Movistar, because there would many more dangerous riders and stages, and no team can control a whole GT from A to Z.

  7. Does Froome take again TUEs as he used to do many times during Dauphine to “build” his wonderful form for TDF? As Giro tried to promote best downhiller prize , TDF organizers should create two GC’s – TUE and no TUE riders. I think it’s time to clean our sport from hypocrisy. For now thanx to SKY and UK Cycling we’re in worse hypocrisy than in Lance era where at least everyone had equal chance to cheat. There should be no place for TUE riders in profi sport, otherwise we’ll never get out of this mud. If someone is sick, he should be treated and not allowed to ride using cortisone!!! CORTISONE IS A DRUG, IS A DOPING, WHETHER IT’S TUE OR NOT. IT’S STILL DOPING.

    • In less time than it took you to post this you could have looked up when Froome had used obtained TUEs, either via leaks like Fancybears or news sites like and you’d see he’s never had a TUE at the Dauphiné.

      It’s oddly fascinating how some people try to put conspiracy theories over the internet which are grounded in falsehood. You’d surely make a better case to push for MPCC style controls which test riders/teams and if cortisol levels are too low then riders have to sit out races. This allows for genuine therapeutic use at home but not in competition.

      • Great reply @INRNG. No sport is completely “clean” but pro cycling at the top level has come a long way. I am supportive of the MPCC approach on cortisol. Although some riders (George Bennett?) may have been unlucky victims of that rule, it seems to be aimed at rider welfare as much as anything nefarious. If the sport has a systemic problem these days, my suspicion is that it is in gran fondo and certain masters racing events. Personally, I just don’t get that mentality, but then I guess I was never one who felt the need to sprint for 13th place…

        Great forecast for stage 2 by the way. Démare is looking so good these days: he just bossed EBH out of the way there on the run in and pulled away with ease.

  8. loving the daily updates
    deGente proved himself once again to be the always unforgiving rider he can forge himself to be on the right course

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