Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 3 Preview

A team time trial, a dress rehearsal of great interest to the teams ahead of the Tour de France but probably not as gripping for onlookers. This stage will reset the overall classification before the race heads into the mountains for four consecutive stages.

Pascal Ackermann, Belleville

Pascal’s wager: Pascal Ackermann won, no easy feat given he’d been close the previous day and faced a hilly course that saw other sprinters in trouble on the day’s final climb, especially Bryan Coquard. Bora-Hansgrohe’s sprinter is just 24 and has two World Tour sprints to his name already and they’ve already named a street after him in his home town of Minfeld, Germany where either the local mayor is a visionary… or he’s a relation.

The Route: a 35km team time trial with about ten corners along the way. This is not a white-knuckle test of team cohesion, instead it’s all about the long straights and cruising at 55km/h. It’s not as flat as a polder, the road rises and falls a little but with the kind of drags where you try to hold a big gear up the climbs and then click up to an even bigger one when it dips down.

Rules: the time is taken on the fourth rider to cross the line.

The Contenders: it’s hard to see past Team Sky. They placed three riders in the top-10 in the prologue and Geraint Thomas probably would have won had he not crashed. So if they can keep it upright surely they will win.

There are three challengers. In order they’re BMC Racing, Mitchelton-Scott and Quick Step with the US-Swiss team probably the most cohesive on paper and the squad practices a lot for this. Otherwise several other teams will be racing to limit their losses, watch to see how they do as a reference point for July.

Team Sky
BMC, Mitchelton-Scott, Quick Step

Weather: warm, sunny and 25°C but with the chance of storm clouds bubbling up bringing gusting winds and downpours but with luck only once the race is down. Advantage to the early starters but the top teams are all off late.

TV: the first team is off at 2.50pm CEST, the last at 3.53pm and expected to finish at 4.30pm..

51 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 3 Preview”

  1. I understand where you come from when you say maybe not the most entertaining stage, but I like the TTT. Better yet, the Hammer Series TTT, the Hammer Chase, was probably the most entertaining TT since watching Chicken crash like 4 times, as if he didn’t even know how to ride a bike.

      • Yes, the strong teams have enough of an advantage as it is – and they can gain 2 minutes or more on a weaker team in a TTT (Euskaltel always used to suffer, I remember).
        All of this makes me think of Movistar: yet another reason why bringing NQ, ML and AV all to the Tour might not be a good idea. And not just for the TT, Movistar have lost considerable time on flat stages in more than one TdF.

        • I think the pan flat TTT is born out of a bid to restrict Sky’s mountain train. With the teams down to 8 mean and with a 30km TTT they cant pick Froome, Kiryenka and 6 mountain goats. It’ll probably back fire though because Sky will pick a hugely strong TTT team and time trials in general produce bigger time gaps than mountain stages. Not that he is in contention to win but Barguil/Fortuneo must be looking at shipping 3 minutes or so today.

          • Kwiatkowski, Thomas, Geoghan-Hart, Pouels, Bernil with Castroviejo and Stannard for the flats. Very strong TTT and in the mountains.

          • Tovarishch….. would Sky risk GH and Bernal when they are untested over 3 weeks? Moscon or Kiri before Castro surely, and Road Capt Rowe before Stannard….

          • I was just throwing out names but everyone seems to be talking about Bernal being in the squad and he seems inseparable from TGH :-). I think Rowe is too risky over three weeks, given his injury.

          • Sky team this tour will be:

            Froome. Geraint, Kwiatowski, Moscon, Bernal, Castroviejo, Poels, Rowe

            Ian Stannard hasn’t had any form for a while, can’t see him making – plus he’s not at Dauphine.

            They won’t put both Tao and Bernal in, too much of a risk, Bernal will be there, Tao at Vuelta.

            The only debate is whether it’s Rowe or Kiri, Rowe’s been going well since his return and has experience as road captain. Kiri was pulled before the end of the Giro, whether that’s illness or saving him is impossible to say, I’m going illness and therefore picking Rowe.

          • No-one mentioned unfair. Everyone but you, RonDe, is just discussing cycling. I could explain further, but you’re too blinkered for it to be worth the effort.

          • The interesting aspect of sport is seeing individual strength rather than team strength. That is if you’re interested in anything other than seeing one person/team win.

          • My mistake for engaging with your (as is so often the case) needlessly snide comment.

            Time for you to look up the word ‘communism’.

            (Sometimes, as here, the Name doesn’t fill in automatically – of course, you know that.)

          • I take the point about the richer teams having an advantage with wind tunnel testing etc but TTT is a discipline where team cohesion plays a big part.
            If you were to look at other sports, often a strong team dynamic is one of the very few advantages that the lesser have over the wealthier rivals.
            Why does this not prove to be the case in a TTT though?

          • What I will add to my above point is, and you could cite the French teams specifically here where they’ve only recently got their top riders to take the TT seriously, many of the teams look like they do barely any TTT practice at all.
            It’s too simplistic to say that the rich are stronger than the rest.
            The others could help themselves much more, OK it’s not the raison d’être for the wildcard teams, but the WT teams could be more competitive.

          • ET – In recent years how many TTTs have been of sufficient length to have a major impact on the result? It is a case of what training gives the best results. TTT training must involve a huge amount of time and impact on the training schedules of the individual members. The long trial in the the Tour has probable meant a some times have actually put the effort in this year.

          • Gianni, I take your point, but cycling is both a team sport and an individual sport. Like The Bosker, and many others, I have never found one team dominating to be exciting to watch. The team element certainly adds to the interest in cycling – e.g. Astana working over Dumoulin to net Aru the victory in the Vuelta – but it’s most interesting if there is a balance between these two. For me, TTT skew things too much in favour of the strong teams. The rider with a strong team already gets many advantages from that strength – having a TTT as well tends to give them too much of an advantage in my opinion.

          • @J Evans give me any example where a TTT has materially affected the outcome of a race. If you cannot I think this is more your biased view than material fact.

        • Gianni, I’m not a cycling encyclopaedia and don’t have that info. at my fingertips. Also, at no point did I claim that that had happened.
          On top of this, you can’t say who would or would not have won a cycle race by subtracting time lost in a certain instance (e.g. in a TTT), because people might well ride differently depending on where they are on GC.
          So, I’d suggest your question doesn’t even make sense.

          • The question makes sense. There’s no need to belittle the question simply because you can’t answer it.

            If a rider on a strong team would beat a rider on a weak team in a big stage race without the result from a TTT then how is the added benefit too much? In what way is the skew too much? Where is the extra advantage?

            The benefit is admitted on all sides. The point is, in this context of strong teams versus weak teams in a World Tour race: what difference does it make? It makes none.

          • I wasn’t belittling it: I explained how you can’t just say: This much time was lost by Rider A in the TTT, therefore Rider A would have beaten Rider B had there been no TTT.

    • I think whilst it’s fair to say that well funded teams generally do well in TTTs (as they should) some not so well funded teams have also done well in them. HTC, Garmin and Orica all went through spells of being very good at them and none were mega bucks teams. It’s not a modern phenomena to have big teams dominating TTTs. TI-Raleigh, ONCE and US Postal to name a few used to win them regularly.

      • There have been small teams that have been good at TTTs, but I can’t think of any (although there must have been some occasion) who also had a GC contender in their ranks. That tends to be the preserve of the big teams.

  2. While I find the individual crono stages pretty dull, when you add a team dynamic I find it much more interesting. All kinds of things can happen from mechanical issues (remember the exploding front wheels a few years ago?) to guys who just don’t have it on the day. To me it seems there are a lot more strategies involved even if, like J Evans claims, the big, well-funded teams usually win.

    • Agreed Larry. I remember also the TTT from the TdF some years back when the ability in the team was a little uneven and Cancellara blew his team members apart on a very technical course. Like watching a Ducati superbike corner on rails followed by a Honda stepthrough! Other teams had several riders going off course on the tricky corners. Exciting stuff to watch.

  3. The TTT can give rich teams an advantage – at least if they have used that wealth to recruit powerful rouleurs. Sky however, with thier team selection, might have nobody to hold the best climbers (Bardet, Yates, Martin…) in the mountain stages. A choice as is Movistar’s for the TdF. The TTT also fascinates in the mix of rider strengths in the event: young and light climber James Knox must dread trying to hang on to the Terpstras and Jungels of Quickstep today.

    • It’s slightly interesting that it’s 4 from 8 (i.e. 50% of the team) to finish, whereas the previous dynamic was 5 from 9 I think.
      It’s a small adjustment but not an insignificant one.
      Movistar will have their tridente in the TdF but they could, in theory, also pick four top rouleurs for the TTT, and then let the climbers do their own thing in the mountains?

  4. TTT time, what i don’t understand, all teams knew that this race had a TTT, in the world if pro-cycling, where apparently most of the riders are of the same strength, and the x factor that makes stars from water carriers is often what goes on above the neck than below it. Why cant a team get 4/5/6 strong riders to ride a fast cohesive TTT and not lose minutes? If the lower teams have no real GC options, or sprinters they could stack their line-up with the strong guys and give today a punt. You see them trying to get in breaks, ride like Ox’s all day in the break but come to a TTT and they are fiendishly slow.

    I know there are many nuances in a TTT, but strong and fast generally go hand in hand. Pacing discipline on the other hand is a whole new ball game.

  5. The route for the Tour of Britain came out yesterday (or I saw it yesterday anyway) and it includes a 14km Team Time Trial up Whinlatter Pass (300m, barely even a Cote/Capo by continental standards). It seems pretty weird, is anyone aware of a hill climb/mountain team time trial that has happened before?!

    • That’s only a steep(ish) finish, the rest is rolling and some downhill.
      The Whinlatter section from Lorton is quite steep, with some tight corners, but the road opens up nearer the top. The riders will fly up there, I’m sure.

      • I know it well, my club do a TT on the exact same route. We class it as a hill climb though there’s a fair bit of downhill and most do it on TT bikes. Just seems like an odd course for a TTT.

  6. Agree with some sentiments above about the TTT giving the big teams an advantage, well lets have it done on their ordinary road bikes!

  7. Do the big teams always get an advantage in TTT? May be the exception to the rule but Sunweb winning the worlds last year seems to suggest that’s not true – although I see that the worlds are a very different scenario to a GT.

    • Don’t go ruining the “its not fair” narrative with facts! Sky may be the richest team but they’ve never won the worlds TTT and only rarely win them in stage races. Its not simply about money. Its also about focus and practice. I’m sure we don’t need to revisit that some seem to focus on the TT less than others and perhaps less than they should.

      • Damn! I sort of agree with RonDe again. The other bit about TTT is the “horses for courses” angle. Is the thing long enough that it’s worth bringing some genuine rouleurs to give your GC leader an advantage vs lightweight climbers that will be useful to him elsewhere? This kind of stuff is what makes the TTT much more interesting (not that it takes much) to me than ITT.

          • Perhaps I feel like others are ganging up on you? I very often disagree with your opinions but you do a good job of presenting them and your posts pretty much always get a read by me, unlike others ie those from Anonymous and his family.
            Watching this TTT, I wanted to give style points to Groupama/FDJ. Every piece of kit matched perfectly, their formation was great and the tricolor kit looks damn nice. They didn’t go all that fast, but they looked nice doing it – must be the wannabee Italian in me?

          • You didn’t like the “united colours of Sky” approach with their national champions helmets and pinarellos in the flags of all nations?

            Moscon was even riding a flying tricolore!

            The following is taken from @ammattipyoraily on Twitter and is the time gaps from the prologue and TTT added together. Makes interesting reading and would suggest that those backing Bardet/ Nibali/ Dan Martin may need super climbing legs come the Tour:

            Thomas +0:21
            Caruso +0:52
            Jungels +1:08
            Alaphilippe +1:09
            A.Yates +1:17
            Soler +1:51
            Bardet +1:52
            Zakarin +2:07
            Buchmann +2:17
            Nibali +2:28
            D.Martin +2;57
            Barguil +3:14

          • Larry – the aesthetic is actually my favourite part of the TTT – nothing beats a line of identical riders in space age kit gliding up the road… too many flash harrys in national champs kit just spoils the team look I think.

        • I found the ITT aspect of the past couple of Giri (?) fascinating, where it seemed to encourage attacking riding by the lightweight climbers in ancipation of time losses to Dumoulin. I do agree that the rouleurs versus lightweight climbers tactical angle is interesting (cobbles, crosswinds and a TTT could be a challenge for Movistar’s likely selection this year, for example), although Sky seem unique at the moment with the number of climbers that are quality rouleurs/TTers (or vice versa): Kwiatkowski, Thomas, Moscon, Kiryienka, even Froome and Poels (ish).

  8. Whats is the news on Kwiatko post crash? Is their a slight chance both him and Thomas are carrying slight injuries? If Sky want either or both of them in the top 4 it could slow the whole team down.

  9. I think TTT’s are exciting and strategic, a true exercise in coordinated riding. What’s not to like about skilled fast riders keeping inches off each other’s wheels? If you want to minimize the GC advantage of strong TTT’s, just credit a percentage of the actual time difference.

  10. +1

    I always liked the TTTs. Something about the riders in close formation (or not, depending) just looks really cool. It’s something requiring a different skillset, more team cohesion..I enjoy it. Certainly more engaging than the individual, which, for all the pain and determination on display, is ultimately just watching one man ride a bike. Be great if Sky don’t win today, unlikely though that may be.

    • I like the rotations, especially when they slightly muck up rejoining the back of the train and are fighting to get back on. There’s genuine tension when they momentarily lose the wheel!

    • They’ve got the smallest roster in the World Tour (23 riders) and started the prologue with Ten Dam and Hamilton who have just done the Giro and they quit the next day, presumably entered only to meet the UCI’s minimum starting requirements for the Dauphiné. Without Dumoulin, Kelderman etc they’re not going to win anyway so they might as well save themselves.

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