Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 5 Preview

So far the breakaways have had fared well, can they defy the sprinters again? Surely not because this is the last chance for the sprinters before the mountains appear.

Stage 4 Wrap: a win for Richie Porte who put 12 seconds into Tony Martin and 37 into Chris Froome. Thomas De Gendt made the top-10 to save his yellow jersey for another day and BMC Racing will be as delighted as Lotto-Soudal because it’s up to the Belgian team to lead the race tomorrow. This is a huge result for Porte on a course which didn’t seem ideal for him given the flatter sections. The Tasmanian seems to ride on confidence and this performance will boost him even more after a flawless season. Everyone will inevitably extrapolate to July and it’s another step closer the podium in Paris and possibly the top step, certainly the bookmakers have slashed his odds on winning. Yet there’s still time for Chris Froome but perhaps most excitingly it raises the prospect of a contest in July. But never mind that, there’s plenty coming up in the next few days including the Mont du Chat and Plateau de Solaison and more in between like Alpe d’Huez. Porte’s surprise win took the surprise factor out of Alejandro Valverde’s  third place, himself ahead of several specialists.

Among those who fared worse Tony Martin was good but the story is him being beaten again, once the dominant time trial specialist where the question would be the size of his winning margin now he hasn’t won a time trial in the World Tour for 766 days. Lower down the results Romain Bardet lost 1m53 and Esteban Chaves 2m14s. Ag2r La Mondiale said they counted on losing a minute to their rivals but Bardet’s gap was much bigger. Bardet’s long been bad in the time trials but it gives him more room in the mountains now… if the legs are there although Pierre Latour did a decent ride. You can’t help wonder how the absent Julian Alaphilippe is faring with recovery from his knee injury, winner of the Paris-Nice time trial and he’d love a course like this.

The Route: 175km and a route to delight wine lovers as it tours the Beaujolais. Indeed there’s probably more to say about the wines en route rather than course because there’s nothing too significant along the way. The early climbs offer points for the mountains jersey so Thomas De Gendt and Lotto-Soudal will be wary of moves, especially if Koen Bouwman tries to collect more points. Later on the Col du Bois Clair is a gentle road, literally climbing beside the autoroute and a railway line even if it’s a long drag upa, all before a high speed run past more vineyards into Mâcon, long a city of wine trading.

The Finish: the final five kilometres are the most technical part of the day with a series of bends, roundabouts and more to negotiate but all on wide roads. It’s reminiscent of Stage 3 of Paris-Nice into Chalon-sur-Saône where Sam Bennett won because the finish lies beside the Saône river and also because the road rises to meet a bridge over the river before dipping back, it’s neither steep nor long but in Paris-Nice the small hump was enough to disrupt the sprint.

The Contenders: a sprint finish? A lot of riders are well down on GC so could get a ticket for the day but this is the last chance for the sprinters to win before the mountains appear. Katusha are bound to work for Alexander Kristoff, FDJ will have full confidence in Arnaud Démare after his sprint win on Stage 2 and his bunch sprint win on Stage 3. Direct Energie should still back Bryan Coquard and Dimension Data can try again with Edvald Boasson Hagen. Even Cofidis are making noises about Nacer Bouhanni still returning to form as a means to avoid working don’t want to work but what better test for his legs than a sprint finish? Démare has looked the most convincing so far.

Arnaud Démare
Alexander Kristoff, Bryan Coquard
Bouhanni, Colbrelli

Weather: warm and sunny with a top temperature of 30°C. A light tailwind for most of the stage until the final climb of the Col du Bois Clair when there’s a light 10-15km/h headwind to the finish, including on the finish line.

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.

34 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 5 Preview”

  1. Nice to see Chad Haga up there in the TT. If he keeps this up, perhaps Sunweb will give him some time off domestique duties to ride for himself in the future.

    • That was a good ride in itself and proof he came out of the Giro very strong which bodes well for his future in grand tours as a valuable helper. As an aside it’s amusing to hear his name mentioned on French and Italian TV, it rhymes with “Shalimar” when they say it.

    • He is a domestique and that’s very likely to stay so. Sunweb’s rider to ride for himself in the future will be Sam Oomen, who finished on a fantastic 12th, 50s down

  2. Porte has been Australian national time trial champion (beating Rohan Dennis) before, and that along with second places in this year’s Romandie and last year’s Dauphine TT mean that this wasn’t a complete surprise. Contador too must be very happy with his performance and/or Froome’s comparative lack of one.

    Some other noteworthy results were Simon Yates who is looking more and more like a GC contender than just a pure climber losing only 1.03 to a rampaging Porte (50 seconds ahead of Romain Bardet), and Fabio Aru who was 1.18 back but given his injury and long break from racing suggests he might be riding himself into some form for July.

    • Porte has also done well in the worlds TT before. 4th in Geelong in 2010. Behind only Fabian, David Millar and Panzerwagon.

      The excellent form of Porte’s is getting me more and more excited for July. Another aussie TDF winner would be a a dream (that is now a genuine possibility).

  3. The game is certainly afoot. Not only are the final three days of this race intriguingly poised, it is impossible not wonder how this might play out come July. Perhaps Chris Froome can pull it back in the three mountain days (not sure about that). Maybe Richie Porte will ride off into the distance, Nico Roche seems to have some unfinished business with Sky so he is probably very keen to help. Alberto Contador has never won this race perhaps he is more keen to do so than he has made out.

    I guess most speculation will focus on Alejandro Valverde, if he really is a contender where does that leave Nairo Quintana? If he does well on the longer Alpine climbs in the coming days it might be a very difficult call for Movistar with NQ still recovering from the Giro. Thoughts might also turn to someone who is not here, Geraint Thomas. Given his injuries, his TT in Italy was very good, only beaten by a race winning ride from Tom Dumoulin. He appears to be climbing very well too and the course in the TdF might suit him better than Chris Froome especially if he is not 100% for whatever reason.

    All this will inevitably overshadow a pretty routine sprint stage today, I have a feeling Bryan Coquard might pull it off. He is very keen to do the Tour and needs to make himself undropable.

    • Valverde’s interesting because the Tour route suits him more than ever, those downhill finishes with time bonuses awaiting, the relative lack of high altitude. But still he’s tended to crumble in the Tour during the third week relative to others, to defend his GC position rather than look threatening.

    • Sky, like British Cycling, have a philosophy that riders should only peak at very specific times. For British cycling its the worlds and Olympics (other teams actually complained that they only win races every 2 years). For Froome, its day one of the Tour. Further, there was commentary earlier this year, I recall, about Froome taking it easier with his schedule. Therefore, in my mind, before the Tour starts, its too early to speculate about his form for the Tour.

      • Sky’s four wins in the TdF have been preceded by wins in the Dauphine so not sure that is right though perhaps the thought about the Veulta might be relevant

        • Yeah, I suspect he’s trying to delay and/or extend his peak so that his form in the Vuelta is there. Almost trying to ride himself into the Tour and maintain that into the Vuelta, similar to what Quintana tried with the Giro-Tour. I seem to remember in previous years Froome came into the Vuelta heavier than the Tour, which is understandable given the huge discipline required re: diet etc. So maybe he’s rejigged his season, or maybe the form just isn’t there. Either way I hope it adds up to an interesting GC content at the Tour as there haven’t​ been that many in recent years.

  4. Many riders went to the Giro because they believed Chris Froome was invincible. Now we await the mountains. Bad day for Bardet but what about Warren Barguil, even worse?

    • Like you say we’ll see with Froome if he’s got any form for the mountains, it looks unlikely, as if he’s not ready yet.

      Barguil did ok, it’s a mini miracle he’s riding after fracturing his hip a month ago in the Tour de Romandie. He can ride in support of the impressive Sam Oomen this week.

  5. Froome might be in top form physically, but his head might not be in the game, so to speak, because of all the Brailsford-related Wiggins “drug-gate” news surrounding his Team these past few months. Hell, they’re even being evicted by British Cycling! In the words of the Matrix–“. . . , the body cannot survive without the mind!”

    • I’m liking this theory… and he’s had a kid, so that’s another thing in his head different from previous years that may have messed with his prep a bit…

      could add up to a very interesting Tour if Sky aren’t bossing it (and Brailsford is bound to be under pressure if they are, I can’t believe the guy from the Daily Mail hasn’t stored up a couple more zingers for July…)

      • Can’t underestimate the distraction of the cute little ones. Even though it is a good distraction to have.

        On the other hand, not bossing this year’s Tour may make Froome more likable. Make him more human, and many would cheer for his come back next year.

  6. Great ride by Porte, but rides of the day for me were Chad Haga and Sam Oomen. Will be really interested to see how Oomen fares in the mountain stages. He’s got a very bright future.

    I’m going to pick Bouhanni for today. He wasn’t far off on the Demare stage and got boxed in a bit. With a cleaner leadout, he’s surely the fastest straight line sprinter at the Dauphine? (Recent injury aside, of course.)

  7. I do wonder with Froome whether he’s ‘gone’ or whether Sky are trying something different to help him peak later so he can have a better shot at the Tour-Vuelta double. Having said that, it’s very hard to see Sky risking a Tour win just because Froome reckons he’s got unfinished business at the Vuelta.

    Equally, it’s odd if his legs have gone as she should still be around his peak – maybe he’s just not bothering as much as last year with the TT as it hardly matters at the Tour and we’ll see him rip it up in the mountains.

    Time, and respective legs, will tell.

  8. I wonder how much time Froome lost in the more technical end of yesterday’s stage? Porte seemed to be really pushing it to the limit whereas Froome seemed much more cautious. Caution makes sense for the latter as he has nothing to prove to prove to himself or his team. He likely lost a good few seconds not necessarily through low form, but from risk avoidance. In contrast, both Porte (newish team) and Valverde (vying with Quintana for protected rider status) do have something to prove. I therefore question whether Froome is that far from Porte or Valverde formwise.

    That said, both Porte and Valverde did well yesterday and obviously have shown stellar form in the last 6 months, but it is still a long way to the final ITT of the tour. Even though the final ITT is only short (23Km) there is a climb in the middle and crucially it is at the end of almost three weeks of full on racing. Bardet losing almost 2 minutes yesterday shows the damage that can happen over these distances – at the end of the tour this could be much more for some riders. Can Valverde and Porte hold the blistering form they have had for the last 6 months not only for the next month but then through 3 weeks of full on racing? I think that is unlikely, and both have proved reliably fallible in grand tours. The placing of the final ITT means the form of the GC contenders at that point of the race is critical. Going to the Tour slightly under-cooked – a la Froome – is probably the right thing in my view. However, I imagine yesterday’s results make unlikely Froome and Sky adopting riding defensively and then nipping into the lead in the final ITT. All in all it is shaping up to be an intriguing contest come July!

    • I think some very good points there.

      There have been some interesting (rather than just dull PR puff) interviews with Alejandro Valverde recently. It might be a very “interesting” dynamic in the Movistar team come the tour. I am not convinced he will be content to play second fiddle to NQ and perhaps some of his jour sans / last week fade has been down to stress which maybe he has overcome.

      I am also not convinced that Richie Porte really has the mental resilience needed so win a GT (think Tom Dumoulin). Deep down does he really believe he can beat his good friend Chris Froome? Can BMC as a team really get their act together to simply focus on winning the GC? I would like to see him succeed after all the bad luck he has had but remain to be totally convinced.

      • Thanks. And, yes, mental strength is often underrated and an important trait in GT contenders. The way both Froome and Dumoulin can slide off the back only to come back again says a lot about their mental resilience. Other riders – once they go, they’re gone.

    • Froome was only 2 seconds off Richie in the Hilly first part of yesterday’s ITT.

      Froome had lost a very wet Romandi TT (last year or the year before) to a Zakarin who had to do a bike change. So it was likely he was just being cautious yesterday. On the other hand, he had also lost 2014 Vaulta due to over cooking the first half of an ITT and blowing up as a result, losing about a minute and half to AC. He was chasing form in that Vaulta when they had the ITT.

      It is hard to say which was the case yesterday. I suppose the mountain would tell the truth at the end of this race.

  9. Too early obviously but as Inner Ring says the prospect of a contest in July is surely something to relish. The thought crossed my mind too that if Chris Froome arrives on July 1st not at his best I suspect Geraint Thomas will have a point to prove after the Giro which could give Sky options/problems…….

    • You seriously think there’s even a possibility Froome and Thomas will be equal leaders? Unless Froome is on one leg he’s clearly earned the right to lead regardless. I’m no huge fan of his, but for mine Thomas is over rated in GC potential. Porte must be a huge chance.

  10. If you take out TDG who I love and clement (as they probably aren’t going to feature in the final gc) the gc looks like this, which is tantalising to me.
    Porte. 13h06’20”
    Valverde. 24sec
    Contador. 35sec
    Froome. 37sec

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