Critérium Dauphiné Stage 7 Preview

The big mountain stage that’s just 133km, today’s stage has a succession of climbs leading to the long slog up to the ski resort of Pipay.

Stage 6 Review: when the world’s number one ranked rider Julian Alaphilippe attacked and took Alessandro de Marchi and Gregor Mühlberger for company you’d imagine plenty of other teams would be interested, especially as Team Ineos aren’t going to be chasing all day. But they missed it leaving the trio to ride away and contest the stage. Alaphilippe’s victory looked almost inevitable but his attacks on the final climb couldn’t shake his rivals, Mühlberger’s responses were more potent and dropped de Marchi. In the end it was Alaphilippe who was more photogenic for the finish line camera.

The Route: just 133km and first via the Col de l’Epine, this is Ag2r La Mondiale country with the team’s HQ just off the descent and then a ride around Chambéry where their successful development team is based. Then it’s over the Col du Granier, listed as 12.8km at 5.8% which makes it sound easy but it’s got some much steeper sections early on and mid-way. There’s a descent to the valley and rather than staying down the race takes the Col de Marcieu, a scenic balcony road up the side of the valley that’s 10km at 6% and chased by a steep descent to the valley floor.

The Finish: a long climb, 19km with 1,270m of vertical gain. For the most part it’s a steady ascension on a wide road, this isn’t the place for brutal attacks but for gradual attrition.

The Contenders: Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) is in yellow and in this case defence is the best form of attack as he can aim to manage his rivals and should they waste energy the stage win is his.

We saw yesterday Ineos doing what they do with Michał Kwiatkowski towing the peloton all the way to the line. It’s likely they’ll do the same today to set up Wout Poels who often plays sidekick but is now thrust into the limelight.

A wet day, a long steady climb to the finish? This should be Thibaut Pinot‘s day but word is he’s caught a cold but still he could be close, the same for Groupama-FDJ team mate David Gaudu. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) also thrives on these long climbs.

Michael Woods (EF Education First) lost a lot of time in the time trial so if he jumps nobody has to react instantly, much like Dan Martin a year ago, but the long slog uphill isn’t his cup of tea.

The breakaway has a slim chance today given the big teams will try to set up their leaders for the win. But the short distance could encourage an early scrap to go clear. Lottery-number picks would be Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) who deliberately eased up yesterday won’t start today and Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) who still hasn’t won anything since his golden 2017 Tour but is improving and both have a chance out of a breakaway.

Nairo Quintana, Adam Yates
Jacob Fuglsang, Thibaut Pinot, Wout Poels
Woods, Buchmann, Kruijswijk, Gaudu, Bardet, Lambrecht

Weather: a mixture of sunshine and rain, 24°C in the valleys

TV: because of a schedule clash with the Le Mans automobile race there’s only an hour of live today starting at 4.00pm and the finish is forecast for 5.00pm CEST / Euro time.

16 thoughts on “Critérium Dauphiné Stage 7 Preview”

  1. One wonders if Mühlberger would have won if he’d have thrown his bike at the line. He took his loss pretty well, but I actually think he should have been more cross. Victory was within his grasp and he had raced like a champion.
    I hope he manages to win something in the Tour.

    • Very classy ride by Mühlberger. He looked so smooth on the bike – a rider deluxe.
      Alaphillipe had just looked over his shoulder for De Marchi when Mühlberger opened his sprint, as if the Bora DS shouted “now Gregor”. I couldn’t help wondering that if he could’ve managed to go that split second sooner he would have got the extra couple of cms he needed: the idle wonderings of a spectator after the race is over shows what a great show the three breakaway kings put on.

    • It’s not easy to get the throw right, you need the downstroke on the pedals and then to throw… all after 220km too. But it’s skill every race should practice, riders like Alaphilippe get to contest so many wins that being able to do this right does convert into wins.

      • Yes. I figured the timing of his pedal stroke may have been a factor. But it’s only something you get to do if you contest sprints. Still that’s why you race for bragging rights on town signs and other such stuff. But of course race situations aren’t something you can replicate, and Alaphilippe had a step on him in this regard.

    • I had the same thought about the bike throw. It looked like he had no idea what to do, and just straightened his arms. The other camera views showed how much of his body Alaphilippe got into his throw. Still, as martin said, Mühlberger looked smooth and strong, no sawing about on the bike. He’s only 25, and perhaps is coming into his own, like so many others on the Bora team.

  2. Not fully convinced the break won’t succeed – for various reasons including the Froome incident, which will have changed some teams’ outlooks on the race. In addition, there’s another big stage tomorrow.

    Hence, I’m going to invest a small amount of yesterday’s Alaphilippe winnings on Gaudu and Pierre Rolland (who unfortunately will not be at the TDF for the first time in 10 years). Rolland must be fired up for this.

    • I don’t see a breakaway succeeding today on such a short stage, they’re usually frantic affairs that get ever more quicker throughout.
      Although the Ag2r connection is a good call, adds an extra ingredient to an already-interesting day.

      • Prescient words. Once upon a time Rolland looked like a dangerous rider in the break, but he just doesn’t have the va-va-voom to do anymore than grind out a ride in the mountains. He’s good at getting in breaks, but these days he’s more reliant on the make up of the break than his own natural abilities to garner a win.

  3. De Marchi. Often in the breakaway, but doesn’t often deliver a result.

    Great rider and I like his style. But was it said not on this very blog that within the new CCC team setup he really needs to step up. They don’t have a leader like Porte anymore.

    De Marchi is now more visible, has more responsibility, and should figure out a way of contesting stages and not riding all day in the break (two days in a row) for the sake of it.

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