Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 4 Preview

The crucial time trial stage to reshape the overall classification and an early test of fitness for all the Tour de France contenders.


Stage 3 Wrap: not every train arrives on time. FDJ and Lotto-Soudal capped the lead of the six rider breakaway at around six minutes, Cofidis and Dimension Data helped bring it down to two minutes, Katusha got towards one minute. Then the peloton ran out of steam and the sprint trains never brought back the breakaway, each outfit wanted someone else to chase so that they could preserve wagons for the finish. The escapees were helped by two teams having two riders each in the move which helped prevent games, there was always someone to take a pull to help the move and things never got tactical, even in the finishing straight. Lotto-Jumbo’s Koen Bouwman jumped first, got a gap and never looked back. It was an impressive win for a rider who’d gone in the break to mop up mountains points to add to the tally he’d earned by going in the previous day’s breakaway too.

The Route: 23.5km and hillier than the profile suggests. It’s uphill straight out of town with some 5-6% sections, nothing savage and since it’s all on a wide road most will stay in an aero tuck but it’s an immediate advantage for the lighter rouleurs as the road drags up to Rochetoirin at 5km. Then the road dips down for a fast section to the halfway time check in Laval. The hardest part of the course comes after 16km with the climb to Demptézieu, the one moment when the wide roads close in and the road climbs via tight hairpins. It’s a fun moment but over quickly and back to wider roads for the final 6km to the finish in Bourgoin-Jallieu. There’s a descent into town which is fast, there are corners but those hoping to contend for the stage will ride the course in the morning to avoid nasty surprises.

The Contenders: the prototype rider would be Tom Dumoulin given the climbing and fast sections here so who to pick instead. It’s not obvious. Tony Martin (Katusha) will have to do instead but he’s not the certainty he used to be, his last success in a World Tour TT dates from over two years ago, the 2015 Tour de Romandie. But the 32 year old has to be back in form soon, the Düsseldorf grand départ is 24 days away.

Another rider facing a fitness test today is Chris Froome and what better way to put an end to the lack of a win so far this year with a time trial victory? At Sky Michał Kwiatkowski could fancy his chances on this medium distance course too.

The same for Alberto Contador, how is his form? Monday’s L’Equipe reported riders noticing Contador wasn’t at ease during Sunday’s climb to Rochetaillé, is he a touch short of form? Or was this an extrapolation? Two team mates have been ill too, with Fumiyuki Beppu soldiering on and Edward Theuns out.

Richie Porte is another contender. He’s got a good record in one week stage races but he’s been better in the mountains than against the clock. BMC Racing team mate Brent Bookwalter must be one of the most under-rated riders in the peloton. He can climb with the best until late and does a good time trial too – second in the recent Tour of California’s Big Bear TT stage – which makes him a valuable team mate at BMC Racing but not headline news because he’s only taken two career wins.

Luis Leon Sanchez would prefer a long course to power around, the intensity today might be too much. Astana team mate Sergey Chernetski is Russian’s time trial champion and could feature.

Among some other names there’s Movistar’s Jasha Sütterlin, a TT specialist. Bahrain-Merida’s Ramūnas Navardauskas is enigmatic, sometimes able to pull of a surprise. Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac) wears the stars and stripes of US national champion and finished a solid third in the Big bear TT in California. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) is an all rounder in search of a speciality and can do well in the time trials, a win would be a shock though. FDJ’s Ignatas Konovalovas used to be a TT specialist but has been an engine of their sprint train more of late.

Can Thomas de Gendt stay in yellow? Yes. His results in past time trials may sometimes look bad but that’s because he doesn’t chase the overall classification too often and so enjoyed an undeclared rest day like so many do. Now there’s a yellow jersey on the line it’s worth fighting for. The stage win seems out of the question but he’s got 1m09s on all the main rivals which is a good buffer.

Tony Martin, Chris Froome
Brent Bookwalter, Michał Kwiatkowski
Gallopin, Porte, Talansky, Sütterlin, Contador

Weather: sunny and a mild 21°C with a light 5-10km/h breeze from the north.

TV: the first rider starts around 1.00pm and last rider is due to arrive at 4.20pm CET. All riders go off at one minute intervals. It should be on the same channel you watch the Tour de France and/or Eurosport.

30 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 4 Preview”

  1. Given the way they were riding at Romandie I would rate Porte above Froome at the current time. Will also be interesting to see how Chaves and Aru go in their comeback from injury.

    • It seems Froome has improved, or at least that’s the idea put forward above. But that’s what makes today’s stage of interest, we’ll be able to compare and rank the riders better afterwards.

        • I thought Froome had “a slight back injury” at Romandie? If so, hardly fair to judge him on that basis when in previous TT’s Froome has been clearly better than Porte. Of course, things change so Froome has to prove himself again. Which is what this race is all about for him.

          • A lot of riders report “slight injuries” when they’re not at their best. Of course Froome has beaten Porte in many TTs, however in last year’s Dauphine Porte did prevail in the prologue so it will be an interesting test of form ahead of the TDF.

          • Well that was interesting. Can’t see Porte loosing this race now. He looks at least as good as everyone else. Froome seems off the pace. I can see him going into the Tour with doubts hanging over him.

  2. Wow. A TT. So scarce these days. Really looking forward. I too can’t see beyond Porte. Je ne vois pas plus loin que la porte. Haha. 😀

  3. Thomas De Gendt is an unusual rider. He has all the talents to be a top GC rider, yet seems to choose not to. Maybe because it’s too hectic for him, he admitted before he hates riding in the crowded peloton where crashes lure, and instead prefers riding in the breaks.

    Also for today, he’s had excellent TT results in big races. A top 5 in the Tour’s Mont Saint Michel TT comes to mind.

    Personally, I hope he can capture back some of his shine of the past, where he on occasion matched the big names both up the mountains and in the TT.

    • I suppose being a top GC man is more than just being a good climber and a good time trialist on any given day. Its about being able to concentrate for 3 weeks, having a resilient constitution so that you don’t get ill or weak for 3 weeks and the ability to recover quickly and not have an off day/jour sans. De Gendt has maybe realised that he is lacking in one or a couple of these areas. Its reasonably well known that he doesn’t like riding in the bunch, so having to sit in and concentrate for 3 weeks would probably be torture for him. If that’s the case then I’d respect him for that. Better to concentrate on what you are good at than constantly try and do something that you aren’t cut out for, like say Tejay van Garderen or dare I say it Richie Porte. On the other end of the scale you have riders like Haimar Zubeldia or maybe even Bauke Mollema who aren’t particularly the best at either climbing or time trialing but are pretty steady at both and can keep chugging away every day for 3 weeks with no ill effect.

      • If we ignore Zubeldia’s value as a superdomestique I would say the de Gendt’s palmares of stage wins is worth more to sponsors that Zubeldia’s anonymous series of top 10 finishes.

    • May also be a question of not being able to achieve the power to weight needed to be a top GC rider. @DeGendtThomas has previously Tweeted how he spent two years trying to lose muscle but didn’t succeed because of losing power.

    • As Inner Ring pointed out after stage 1 the comparison between de Gendt and van den Broeck is interesting. Both have one podium finish in a GT (albeit after event in vdB’s case) but de Gendt has never really pursued a career at a GC contender and it is hard to think it has been a bad decision. He doesn’t have the other GT top 10’s that vdB has but I expect sponsors get better value out of his prominence in breaks and win in big stages like last year’s to Mont Ventoux

      • If I recall correctly, De Gent had to take a massive salary cut to stay pro once Vacansoliel folded. He was barely able to get a contract with QS. He now seems to have found his home at lotto, but it could have turned out differently.

        • He said in a cycling podcast friends special out earlier in the week that he doesn’t think he’s good enough to get top 10 in Grand Tours and who doesn’t reall think it matters who gets top 10-15. So he prefers to go for stage wins. Probably underselling himself but that’s his thinking.

  4. Wow, just saw the tweet that Dumoulin signed a five year contract with Sunweb Team. You don’t see too many of those long-term deals these days. Guess this means a long-term commitment from the team as well to build a GC team around him. With the support he had gotten from Bob Jungels in the Giro, wouldn’t be surprised to see the two paired together in the same team eventually–after all, it will be unlikely that Jungels stays with Lefevre’s Belgian squad, which is traditionally not a GC Team.

  5. Good point about Bookwalter. He’s super strong. As is De Gendt and it’s great to see him in the limelight.

    I think it’s probably time that Le Coq Sportif drop the faux vintage ‘collar’ on the leaders’ jerseys. It was a neat little heritage nod a couple of years ago, but now looks a bit silly.

    • I have yet to come across a mention of Bookwalter in which he is actually undervalued, in the sense that it is intended to say that he isn’t very goor or that he isn’t as good as someone somewhere thinks he is.
      It is more like that he simply either goes unnoticed, under the radar so to speak, or that it is taken for granted that he is as good as he is, and therefore he never gets the same credit for it as some riders who sometimes surprise us by being as good or almost as good as Bookwalter.
      The “super” in “superdomestique” isn’t at all silly in regard to the level of performance he can deliver on a regular basis. But I think the (almost forgotten or just plain never or seldom used in English text) Dutch word “meesterknecht” is much better!

    • That was a very hilly route, up a big climb and down it. Today is much more about turning around a 56/58T chainring. Let’s hope he’s close for the sake of the GC action to come but I can’t see him winning but don’t mind being wrong… it’d be expensive betting against him this year 😉

      • I even checked the profile of the stage because I didn’t watch it at the time and it didn’t look too hilly; must be used to ASO profiles.

  6. I know the TT helmets don’t have the same long tail as they used to, but i can’t help think how much quicker Froome might be if he kept his head up the whole time during the TT versus bouncing it around like a chicken.

Comments are closed.