Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 6 Preview

110km and packed with climbing, this is a copycat stage of one of the upcoming Tour de France stages. Tune in early because the final two stages have an early finish.

Morel booster: an early breakaway, reeled in. Normal only this time with a twist given the break might have had a strong chance were it not for Bora-Hansgrohe leading the charge. An unusual tactic perhaps given Emmanuel Buchmann is promising rather than delivering but some times it’s worth giving the whole team a mission for the day. Dan Martin jumped clear with three kilometres to go on the climb to Valmorel. This was no tentative acceleration, he went straight for the stage win and having lost a lot of time was given some space. As the others tried their moves Geraint Thomas proved the strongest and almost caught Martin on the line.

The Route: a dense route packed with mountains and scenic too. A brief ride up the Doron valley and it’s straight into the first climb, the Montée de Bisanne is 12.4km at 8.2% and a hard climb. It’s regular and at first snakes up past Alpine pastures where the prized Beaufort cheese comes from. It’s scenic but not stunning, a workplace rather than the stuff of postcards. The upper slopes are the steepest and the scenery fades amid the small ski resort of Bisanne 1500 before an open section up to the top of the climb just below the Col des Saisies and there’s a fast descent on a wider road back down to the valley floor.

Next up is the Col du Pré, this time the stuff of postcards with chalets and tight hairpin bends. After a steady start out of the town of Beaufort the tone changes when the road leaves Arêches and starts winding up through the pastures and it’s often 10% or more, all on a narrow road. Over the pass there’s a quick descent and a passage over the Roselend dam and then a tour around the lake before the road climbs to Cormet de Roselend, plenty of 7% sections and then a long descent if measured in distance but short by time because it’s very fast (and dangerous because of the speed).

The Finish: 17km but not steep, the “summit” finish of La Rosière is really the Col du Petit Saint Bernard and just short of the Italian frontier, it’s all on a wide road, a transport artery for thousands of years.

The Contenders: Geraint Thomas was close yesterday and the flatter finish here suits him, plus Team Sky look set to pace him. There’s no debate about the ambitions of Gianni Moscon or Michał Kwiatkowski any more although it’ll be interesting to see if they’re still around for this final ascent.

Romain Bardet and Adam Yates are obvious picks, Bardet loves stages with a succession of climbs and descents but today’s big gear final climb isn’t his choice while Yates is looking solid but can he transform this into a win?

Dan Martin was strong yesterday but looked fresh too, like he could have jumped again had Thomas caught him and sounded very at ease in the post-stage interviews. Adept at steep finishes he can win small sprints too. He’s also in the strong position of not being high on GC so can move without being closed down right away. Others are in this position too like Antwan Tolhoek and Dani Navarro but if they move, Martin surely has the better of them? One rider down on GC who might be tempted to try a move today is Vincenzo Nibali given Roselend descent and the finish is almost in Italy but this can’t make him ride any faster and his form doesn’t seem ready yet.

Geraint Thomas
Adam Yates, Dan Martin, Romain Bardet

Weather: sunny and 26°C in the valleys.

TV: 90 minutes of live coverage and the finish is forecast for 2.50pm CEST.

76 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 6 Preview”

  1. Seems like this stage might have been more interesting if du Pré was last.
    From his comments (recently and previously), Thomas seems even more keen than Bardet for Froome not to start the Tour.
    And no wonder: as can be seen by his minute lead in this race, with the TTT, the cobbles and Sky backing him (and at his age) it would very probably be Thomas’ best chance of winning a GT – although I’d still put it at slim, at best, as I can’t see him not losing plenty of time to others in the mountains. He might hold on here (personally, I wouldn’t be the rider behind him on a descent, unless the other options were Rolland and Porte), but over three weeks?
    If Froome is at the Tour – and it looks like he’s going to be – Thomas is deluding himself with his talk of being ‘co-leader’, unless Froome cracks, which given his Lazarus-like performance at the Giro seems unlikely.
    I’ve said all along that I think Froome will escape punishment – that’s how the world works for the rich and powerful.
    Great to see that pillock in the panda head run into a motorbike – I hope that really hurt. It would be nice to think that lessons would be learned, but that’s delusional.

    • In theory, the Giro should be Thomas’ best option at GT glory and it was a real shame that his tilt last year was ruined by ill-luck.
      He could still have another tilt at that title though.

      He’s a very good back-up for the Tour this year for Team Sky and worthy of team support until the final week. After that, difficult tactical choices may have to be made, and he might be forced into marking duties on one of Movistar’s fearsome ‘tridente’, who knows?

      • Depends on the Giro course – the last two years have been TT’er-friendly, but now that they had Froome in it that might not go on.
        I’d say Landa’s tilt last year was more ruined: one of a few Sky riders over the years who have seemed much more able to win a grand tour than Thomas.
        But Thomas is British so Sky back him and British people big up his chances, ignoring the fact that he’s never had a top ten in a GT.

          • There have been a few.
            Just from 2015 onwards: Landa in the 2015 Giro, Valverde in 2015 Tour (those first two are perhaps debatable, but they did work for their leaders), Moreno and Valverde in the 2015 Vuelta, Valverde in the 2016 Tour, Moreno, and Formolo and Yates (those last two are debatable) in the 2016 Vuelta, Landa in the 2017 Tour, Poels in the 2017 Vuelta, Oomen and Bilbao in the 2018 Giro,
            You also have to ask yourself why has he almost always been a domestique.

        • Whether or not Thomas has the chops to win a GT, I think he’s realistic in thinking he’ll be a protected plan B at the Tour… a co-leader even. I mean, can Froome really win 4 back to back GTs? It’s unchartered territory and not acknowledging that seems an un-Sky like risk

    • “I’ve said all along that I think Froome will escape punishment – that’s how the world works for the rich and powerful.”

      Both cynical and judgmental in one sentence J Evans. Impossible that Froome could have a legitimate explanation and should he receive no punishment it could only be because he is “rich and powerful”. May you never serve on any jury with such views.

      • You’re absolutely right: when it comes to doping I am ‘cynical and judgemental’.
        It’s a world of difference to being on a jury.
        For one thing, circumstantial evidence counts when forming what is only an opinion – and there is a lot of that.

        • What circumstantial evidence are you referring to? There doesn’t seem to me to be much that’s less than 6 years old (but then I tuned out when the world accused him of using motors.)

          Playing devil’s advocate if I may: I suppose that if there are cracks in the procedure then a highly tested serial salbutamol user like Froome was always destined to be the canary in the coal mine.

          As for the ‘powerful getting what they want’ thing, I think that argument was discredited by the election of Trump etc… there seems to be a popular taste for the blood of the old guard right now. Froome is disproportionately and persistently a target of leaks more so than any other cyclist, so his success seems like a poisoned chalice.

          • Without re-hashing a lot of old details: the various suspicious behaviours of his team, his meteoric rise from nowhere, his AAF.
            As for the election of Trump showing the powerful are losing control… lord above.
            (I can’t give that a fuller answer without going way, way off-topic and writing a lot of words on politics.)

          • I frequently disagree with J Evans but come on this is common sense

            It’s not an absolute thing but wealth + power have corresponded to a greater ability to escape punishment in virtually every human society since the advent of civilization, aside from some brief revolutionary interregnums.

            Like everyone else I don’t actually know whether Froome is “guilty” or not but most riders/teams wouldn’t have the resources to contest such a charge at this level.

            (and there’s little point getting o/t with politics on a cycling site but if Trump and his family aren’t a paradigmatic example of the rich + powerful getting away with things that virtually no one else would idk what is; just to be non-partisan, see also Bill Clinton having basically skated by for so long on his highly questionable history of sexual misconduct)

      • The rulebook is wrong if he’s allowed the time and possibility to provide a legitimate explanation. It should be: result over the threshhold, end of story. Penalty immediately imposed before the next WT race, no appeal, full stop, the show goes on. This would be the best for cycling swiftly functioning as the game it is (it is not the real world where legal guarantees must be upkept, definitely not). If any injustice should happen, then remember the Hand of God was one. One wrong refereeing decision. The 1986 World Cup went on, no problem. The long legal processes are unacceptable.

        • Only problem is that testing over threshold doesn’t necessarily mean substance overuse and WADA acknowledges that. That is why they are giving him the opportunity to prove himself innocent.

          There is probably a debate regarding trade offs between justice and procedural efficiency here. Whilst in Football, a decision needs to be made on the ground now and then, otherwise it is not possible to carry on with the game. I can’t quite see the need to trade justice for efficiency in the Froome case here.

          • If you don’t see the need for a final decision before Froome’s (or Contador’s), I see it. That’s why WADA is wrong to leave grey zones, and UCI is wrong not to impose expedient swift procedures. Even a wrong decision is preferable to a belated one.

          • If you write the rules well enough to leave no possibility to contest refereeing in ordinary courts, you also avoid that. Sorry I missed the word “Giro” above, after “Contador’s”.

  2. “A transport artery for thousands of years”.

    The final climb of the Little Saint Bernard Pass is thought to be one of the likely possible crossing points of Hannibal’s Carthaginian army into Roman Italy in 218 BC.
    There’s some fascinating reading around the subject.

    But if a herd of elephants can get over the day’s finish, then I see no reason why Team Sky’s train cannot do likewise!
    Thomas de Gwent to remain in yellow, for me.

  3. I think Nibali has been holding quite a bit back and will win today’s stage. As for GC, I hope AG2R really take the race on from the gun.

    • Yeah, would be great to see an AG2R chaos stage similar to that one at last year’s TdF. Seemed at the time like a method to disturb Sky’s dominance and I was hopeful to see more teams take it up. Quite a different parcours to today’s stage though.

  4. It comes to something when a 110kms stage with 2 HC climbs and an 18kms descent into the final climb has Geraint Thomas being awarded 3 chainrings! Romain who?

    • I can see the Sky train fracturing fairly quickly after yesterday’s performance. If AG2R get it right they could set Bardet up for the win. I wonder if anyone will try a Finestre.

      • It was interesting that G rode away from Romain Bardet yesterday. Seems like one of three explanations, G is in top form, RB is off the pace or he is saving himself for the Tour. Which ever one it was would suggest that he is not capable of winning today.

        Geraint clearly has a good element of self belief with all the talk about being co-leader at the Tour (not quite sure how Chris Froome will view that). I realise he still has to really prove himself at the highest level (and avoid falling off his bike) however looking back at last year’s Giro he was clearly in top form. Despite the injuries from the motorbike incident he was second in the TT , more than two minutes ahead of Nairo Quintana. Clearly it is not possible to make any real conclusion what might have happened but he could well have been the main competition to Tom Dumoulin. Which would give us all a different view of him.

        The next two days are important for him, bring home the overall and the talk of “co-leader” etc will have some substance, fall away would mean back to being a super domestique.

    • If anything your constant slap downs on Bardet are a compliment to him given your history of constantly putting down Sky/Froome’s biggest rival. For the last couple of years you’ve focused it on Contador and Nibali. With the retirement of Contador and Nibali’s recent successes putting him beyond petty put downs it was inevitable someone else would come into the firing line I suppose. Bardet is not a well rounded, dominant GC performer, but the Criterium Dauphine is not the Tour de France either. A so so performance this week does not correlate directly with a bad Tour.

      • Bardet is “Froome’s biggest rival”? Are you feeling alright Richard? Bardet has never even won a world tour stage race of any description. I see bigger foes for Froome than a guy Thomas rides off his wheel.

        • Well he’s been 2nd and 3rd the last two years and you’ve been giving him the treatment so that’s how it looks. Say what you like about him, he’s not the best climber and he’s not a good time trialist but he’s consistent, can last 3 weeks and can handle the pressure. Winning one week stage races means nuts all either. How many has Porte won? Valverde wins a one week stage race somewhere in Spain every week. Is Kwiatkowski going to win the Tour? The Tour de France is 3 weeks long.

          • And no one has ever really thought Bardet WOULD win it even when he did finish 2nd and 3rd. 2nd and 3rd doesn’t mean you could’ve won. It means you didn’t win. Bardet is consistent you say and I agree: he consistently never wins. Are you planting your flag on a Bardet win in July now Richard or are you suddenly going to back down from your vigorous support of him when the chips are down?

            PS Valverde has won a grand tour. Porte has won 2x Paris-Nice, Romandie, Catalunya and the Tour Down Under. Kwiato has been world champion, won Milan-Sanremo, assorted other one-dayers and Tirreno-Adriatico. Bardet has won VERY LITTLE. But maybe you think 2nd place is really great. None of these riders will likely ever win the Tour de France in my view.

          • I’m not a Bardet fan and neither do I think he’ll win the Tour this year. Though I think he’ll be up there if Froome falters. I’m just pointing out that the fact you feel the need to slag him off on a daily basis actually shows that you do rate him and he is a rival to Froome, otherwise you wouldn’t bother. Barguil is riding like a sack of potatoes compared to Bardet but you’ve left him alone.

            I’m aware that Porte has won loads of stage races, also aware that he has never contended the Tour de France or looked like doing so. Kwiatkowski is an excellent one week racer, never going to win a 3 week Tour. And Valverde is Merkcx-esque in one week races and yet has won one fairly weakly contested Vuelta with blood like treacle and has never looked like winning the Tour. Backs up my point I would say.

          • All I had done was point out that this is a race that a Tour pretender like Bardet should be winning. Then others reacted like I was singling him out for special attention and I, foolishly, reacted to that and, in the process, seemed to confirm my critics’ beliefs since it meant that I kept writing about Bardet.

            But for avoidance of doubt there is NO ONE in this race that particularly bothers me regarding Froome. I don’t think anyone in this Dauphine will win the Tour.

          • @Richard

            Name some grand tour winners who didn’t point up their talent by winning one week stage races. Its very much an indicator of potential.

          • A short list of riders who have won top level one week stage races since the turn of the century: Oscar Freire, Pipo Pozzato, Fabian Cancellara, Tony Martin, Paolo Bettini, Greg van Avarmaet, Tim Wellens, Philippe Gilbert. I’m not sure they got too many Grand Tours between them.

          • Not sure what your point is Richard. My point is that Bardet has won nothing. Not even what the guys in your list have won. Presumably when he retires he’d be happy even with a few wins even if its only the Binck Bank Tour.

            A short list of grand tour winners who’ve won one week stage races since 2010: Nibali, Contador, Quintana, Froome, Dumoulin, Wiggins, Valverde. Basically every grand tour winner also wins a one week stage race. (Unless your name is Fabio Aru.)

          • 1 hour 15 minutes behind the winner suggests not. “Contender” is not “winner”. 18 stages of a 21 stage race is three too few.

          • Dumoulin won the Binkbank (the Eneco Tour?) after winning the Giro and getting to within a stage of the Vuelta. My point is being good at short stage races doesn’t correlate directly with being good at long ones. Even less so in modern times as riders aim to peak for ever narrower time periods. I mean I listed all them lot and didn’t mention Rui Costa, Simon Spilak and Andrew Talansky.

    • Thomas was the pick at the start of the week. His problem has been one of consistency in three weeks, we know he can win these races (he’s won Paris-Nice, Tour of the Alps rtc). But can he have three weeks without going catabolic late in the race, he’s never ridden consistently at a high level whether by bad luck or not. Bardet’s probably a strong pick tomorrow, today’s final climb isn’t as suitable.

  5. I also think Nibali is bound to test the legs at least once in the Daupiné. Already looking forward to his journey at the Tour. I’m still bummed about the 2014 TdF in that we couldn’t see Froome and Nibali head to head.

    • Warren “Mr Hollywood” Barguil is waiting for some nondescript stage at the Tour when he’s 40 minutes down on GC so he can win the stage and be the French darling once more for a day. He’s not a serious rider and doesn’t have the discipline or desire to maxmise his talent. That’s why he’s not even in the World Tour. It says something when one of the smallest squads, Sunweb, dump you because you aren’t prepared to work for others.

      • Have you considered that maybe he doesn’t like to be part of the circus the World Tour is? Or the pressure accompanied of being part of a bigger team? Or the pressure to take TUEs? Respect to Barguil for not succumbing to incumbencies.

        • He was anonymous this time last year too but came good in the Tour, he and his team will hope for the same too. His grandmother died recently, he was very close to her and it’s been weighing on his morale.

          • Actually, apart from the Tour last year he’s been fairly anonymous since the 2013 Vuelta where he also came out of nowhere, won two stages and a lot of acclaim, then disappeared from the results sheets afterwards. While the 100% WT win record is impressive, 4 victories in the past 5 and half seasons isn’t, and I’m sorry if this sounds harsh but he can’t blame dead grandmothers for his lack of results in the past.

          • The 2012 Tour de l’Avenir GC/KOM and Points winner didn’t come somewhere near out of nowhere at the 2013 Vuelta. How many prestigious youth aces did Froome win again?

      • According to him he is not interested in GC at all, saying he is not the calculating type. He races in order to win stages and not to avoid losing GC.

      • As for him choosing a smaller squad was rather an intelligent move. It created a win-win situation: the team gets invited to their most important event and Barguil can race the way he wishes.

        • Presumably he’s chosen to accept a hugely reduced salary from what he might have been able to ask from a bigger team? Only after he has retired will he discover how “intelligent” that choice is. Perhaps he is already financially secure and so doesn’t have to consider his long term future. If that’s the case then I take it all back.

  6. No matter what form he is in, I always put my money on Nibali in these kinds of stages. He climbs well and descends better. I expect an attack in Col du Pré.

  7. I was missing a comment like “Thomas has a chance to win as long as he can keep himself from kissing the tarmac, which he is fond to do”. 🙂

    • Maybe it is the track background of him and Cav – too much time racing on bikes that don’t have breaks.
      Such a shame that they seem to crash so much.

    • Thank you Mats, it’s true, a brave attack by Martin and a well deserved win. A bit strange that Thomas almost caught up with him in the end though. Makes one wonder.

      • When he punched the air with 150m to go . . . and obviously didn’t realise how quick G was closing as he quickly dropped back down to the bars and put in a big last push before a quick celebration over the line.
        It would have been quite an embarrassment and comical had he been overhauled after a premature celebration. 😀

      • “Makes one wonder.”

        What does it make you wonder? It seems pretty normal to me that a GC contender who saved his huge effort to the last km should almost catch a climber who went 3km out and never had a gap larger than 15-20 seconds.

    • A great ride from Martin and what must be a huge sigh of relief at team UAE who’ve only had a handful of Kristoff stage wins all year.

  8. A few fairly straightforward observations about Bardet and Froome, for whatever they’re worth. As much as recent Tours may have been custom-built for Bardet, his palmares now is not vastly dissimilar to Froome’s at the same age – two Grand Tour podiums each. At age 27 Froome was probably not widely picked to win four/five/six* GTs over the next five years. I very much doubt Bardet will approach that number, but who knows what the future holds for Bardet now any more than they did for Froome in late 2012?

    Froome is already several years older than Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault and Indurain were when they won their fifth Tours, and I’m picking Bardet to finish ahead of him next month, although not to win. Again.

    As for Thomas putting 12-odd seconds into Bardet yesterday, I think that’s less than irrelevant. Only one is a genuine podium contender next month, irrespective of TTT and stage to Roubaix. I’d prefer to see it the other way around, but Bardet’s more likely to win than Thomas is to make the top ten. atmo.

    • Froome just turned 33. Zoetemelk won a TDF at 34, Sastre at 33, Cadel Evans at 34. Granted none of them were dominant GT riders (tho Cadel might’ve been on a cleaner playing field, and Zoetemelk had the bad fortune to catch the primes of Merckx and Hinault) but still. We’re also seeing top athletes in various sports – Federer + Serena, Tom Brady, LeBron – extend their peaks out somewhat with the much better nutrition, recovery, equipment etc (and perhaps better drugs, who knows) than was available 10-20 years ago, let alone half a century. This could well be Froome’s last good year, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if him, and Nibali who is only 6 months older, stay close to their current level for another 2-3 years. If he doesn’t have it in this Tour, which is certainly possible, I’d think riding to win his 4th consecutive GT is a more obvious culprit.

      I think Bardet is very likely to wind up with more monuments than GTs, especially if he starts riding Lombardia again, where his lack of a sprint is less of a handicap than LBL. If he does win a TDF it’ll probably one of those weird in-between years like the ones cited above with no dominant GT champion, and he’d still probably need a favorable parcours and things to break his way.

  9. Looking forward to a short mountain stage but given the wide readership of this blog can I take a moment to complain about Carlton Kirby (UK EuroSport). He seems to get worse with each passing season. Please can whoever has responsibility for him make him stop, it’s akin to Chinese water torture.

    • I know some folk dont like him but personally I much prefer Carlton and the rest of the Eurosport commentary team to those at ITV. Vaguely watching the Italian/French/Spanish countryside roll by whilst Carlton & Sean Kelly chunter in the background on is rather like listening to Test Match Special (apologies to those who have no interest in Cricket), it signifies “Summer”

    • Lots of people here don’t watch Eurosport UK precisely because the readership is wide, they’ll be enjoying coverage from France, Australia, the US, Italy, Germany etc. So coming to complain about a particular local commentator doesn’t add much: probably better directed at a UK forum?

      As a rough rule it pays to watch races with local coverage if you can, eg French TV for the Dauphiné, RAI for the Giro, Sporza for the Flemish classics. They’ve got more people on the ground including a motorbike to follow the race and if there’s a language barrier most people should understand “attaque” etc and quickly learn the other terms.

  10. “Buchmann is promising rather than delivering”

    he finished 4th that stage, together with Bardet, ahead of many others, how is that not delivering? He wont beat the big ones, but he’s a solid higher top10 rider for one week races. From 15->10 GC yesterday and today to rank 6. He’s doing fine.

  11. Where’s Uran?

    He’s not here and He’s not there at the swiss tour???

    How often do Tour contenders not race one or the other?

Comments are closed.