Critérium Dauphiné Stage 8 Preview

The final stage of the Dauphiné and there’s still all to play for with the overall classification still wide open. Jacob Fuglsang leads but can he defend and win this race for the second time?

Après vous, le deluge: a mild start to the stage in terms of weather but lively with a giant breakaway of 26 riders going clear but kept on a tight leash by several teams. Movistar worked hard to set a tough tempo on the final climb and it doomed the move but Nairo Quintana’s attack was like a damp firework. Riders traded moves as a storm moved in and rain sluiced down, at times it looked like a front crawl would be more advantageous than a pedal stroke an the TV signal was hampered by the conditions. Emanuel Buchmann made a late attack Jacob Fuglsang cruised across and took up the pace, Buchmann seemed to be in a world of pain just to follow the Dane. But the pair only had a slender lead and Wout Poels surged across, passed them and took the stage. While Chris Froome is absent and Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal is in Switzerland, Poels must rank fourth or fifth in the Ineos hierarchy and still took the stage. But the conditions were particular and the finish suited Poels and his notable punch over short distances. It’s Fuglsang who looks the strongest in the climbs but he’s only got eight seconds on Adam Yates and seven riders are within a minute of him on GC.

The Route: a micro stage of 113km. It’s uphill from the start in Cluses via the Col de Chatillon, a big highway that leads to the next two climbs and the ski resort of Les Gets before a long drag down the valley and the Col du Corbier, 7.6%km at 7.5% and with some 10% sections. Then it’s up the Abondance valley to the Pas de Morgins and the race crosses into Switzerland to borrow roads used on the Tour de Romandie with a descent and hairpins before taking a small side road up the valley for a hilly finish.

The Finish: a lumpy finish, it’s in the Alps but not quite the Alpine summit finish we might imagine. It’s uphill and hard work but it’s not steep, the kind where being on a wheel counts for plenty. It should be familiar to some as it was used in the 2013 edition of the race on the opening stage when Canadian David Veilleux won (and retired weeks later) ahead of about 70 riders. Today’s stage should be more selective.

The Contenders: the lack of long climbs suits Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) but he’s been on the attack for two days now and has the mountain jersey almost sewn up so he’s a contender but not a certainty.

Wout Poels is 28 seconds off on GC and with time bonuses there’s room to put Astana under pressure and Ineos know this terrain well as they’ve often held pre-Tour and post-Tour training camps in the Abondance valley, Michał Kwiatkowski will know the roads well and the course suits.

Jacob Fuglsang (Astana) is looking very strong, he’s picked up where he left off this spring as someone who is shaping races. The Tour de France and three weeks is another question but he’ll provide some answers today if he can ride like a patron.

Among all the others it’s hard to pick one name. Michael Woods (EF Education First) is going wellhas fallen sick overnight so he won’t be but the finish may not be steep enough and he could be tasked with pacing Tejay van Garderen to a podium finish. Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) seems to have improved this week. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) still looks strong. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) can still look to wrap up the race if he can get a small gap and the stage win, easier said than done.

Jacob Fuglsang
Bjorg Lambrecht, Emanuel Buchaman, Wout Poels, Thibaut Pinot
Yates, Kwiatkowksi, Martin, Alaphilippe, Woods

Weather: some sunshine, cloudy and cooler temperatures of 19°C in the valleys but hopefully dry.

TV: coverage starts at 3.30pm CEST and the finish is forecast for 4.55pm CEST / Euro time.

24 thoughts on “Critérium Dauphiné Stage 8 Preview”

  1. Lutsenko (perhaps with a colleague) to get put up the road at some point today, allowing Fuglsang to sit back and mark?
    Yates doesn’t really have the support to counteract any Astana moves, so he looks reliant on a very late gap and a time bonus for the GC.
    The Kwiatkowski / Poels combo looks potentially a strong combination today too. The Pole is the versatile domestique deluxe, a certainty for France and if he’s there at the end, I’m sure he’d be allowed the chance to win.
    It’s been a strange week this, with Froome and Dumoulin’s loss.
    A race without a strong narrative, or at least a familiar one.
    Have readers enjoyed it for or despite this?
    Personally, I like the TTers v climbers contest although, if Froome were fit and in-form, you have to think he’d have been 30” or more to the good at this point, and race over.

    • I’m not disappointed by the absence of either Froome or Dumoulin. Yesterday’s stage would surely have been ignited by a fully functioning Sky train (Ineos Omnibus?!?), but racing can only be about the riders present.
      To this extent what has been disappointing is the failure of some riders to show. Yates, like his brother, must have been sat in the same munitions box as his brother. Both have been damp squibs, as surely, as Wout Poels demonstrated, the stage just required punchy finish to win which has been his modus operandi. Dan Martin also appeared stuck. He is normally good for a dynamic attack in the last km or so. Perhaps both he and Yates were suffering in the conditions (Yates complained of feeling blocked going from hot to cold on the ascents/descents).
      Quintana flatters to deceive. Movistar will have to consider what their main option is for the Tour as he appears to be continuing to be well below his best.
      Lutsenko is surely having a great Dauphiné, but given his robust size can hardly be a true Tour contender, but his ability will surely aid Fuglsang.
      One thing I’m enjoying is watching EF education Drapac bring colour to the peloton, figuratively and literally. They all look like new riders. Much more competitive and successful than their previous iteration.
      The less said about Porte the better. As likeable as he is, his career seems to be based on him being a super domestique, and little else. He should surely be riding in support of someone here rather than starring in his role as ‘First of favourites’ to be dropped.

  2. where’d van garderen come back from all of a sudden? he’s riding like riding like it’s 2011 again. good on him, i hope he’s able to translate it to something today or later in july.

    • Oh my…I thought yesterday when I saw the standings, “someone will make tvg the great tour hope again”
      You know a GT has 3 weeks? Maybe Porte and tvg should merge into one body, that could cope 3 weeks

      • yes, i’m aware a grand tour is three weeks, i wasn’t implying he’d win because he won’t. he’s riding well and maybe he’ll run a top ten again or get a stage or two, that’s all.

        that’s pretty much all his talent has ever suggested.

  3. “TV signal was hampered by the conditions. ” WTF? Did they let Italy’s RAI TV handle the broadcasting duties? How else could this happen? 🙂
    On another note, yesterday’s wet descent looked to be perfect to demonstrate the superior wet weather performance of disc brakes, but I failed to see disc brake-equipped racers dropping their counterparts using old-school calipers that squeeze the sides of the wheel rims.

  4. Short decisive stages such as these should be on TV from the gun. It will be an intriguing start with riders trying to get in the break. Looking forward to it, beers are in the cooler.

      • Hard to believe there’s not another TV channel they could use in these modern times. But then again, I can remember years ago when the Giro crossed over into France (I think they finished in Briancon?) but the French TV broadcasters couldn’t be bothered to show any of La Corsa Rosa on TV. Imagine the surprise of the tour group taken into France as part of their Giro d’Italia race-chasing vacation…and the look on the face of the tour organizer (not me!) when he got the bad news. Outrage doesn’t begin to describe it!

  5. [@inrng – Should that be Les Gets instead of Gex?]

    I’ve been looking forward to this stage all week as it goes through our village of Chatel at the end of Val D’Abordance before the Pas De Morgins. We had a Dauphine finish in 2011 but the tour finished back in 1975 with a TT from Morzine to Chatel. The mayor is optimistic the TDF will return in near future!

    I think today could favour a brave escape. The Col du Corbier is quite steep with the last 5k averaging around 9pct and a good springboard for someone to try to go long given the narrow twisty descent and the usual tailwind along Val D’Abordance at the bottom for the descent to the 25km drag up to the Pas du Morgins. Once in CH it’s typically well built, smooth very fast descent to town of Monthey from where it’s mostly all uphill to Champery along narrow ‘suburban’ roads lined with chocolate box Swiss chalets.

    • Thanks, fixed, and isn’t the Val d’Abondance? 😉

      Where the Dauphiné goes the Tour tends to follow too, the surrounding ski area of the Portes du Soleil seems keen on getting bike races in like the Dauphiné and Romandie.

      • Yes you are right and produces great cheese!

        A 40km TT from Morzine to Chatel, going over the Corbier, would make a great stage.

  6. The edition of the Dauphine, like the Giro, seems to have been somewhat underwhelming. The enforced withdrawals and weather has not helped but the course has appeared to have lacked something. Not sure the short mountain stages live up to the hype.

    I suspect today will see the top 5 mark each other to such an extent that changes will be minimal. Not convinced that Adam Yates will get to the top step, Wout Poels probably has a chance of getting onto the podium. Unfortunately I dont see a big mountain showdown in prospect.

    • Hmmmm I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit…

      Do you not think this might bode well for the tour? Lots of riders quite equal? Although Dumoulin, Thomas and Bernal may change that.

      Also, I’m interested as to why they are equal, whether, as Froome had stated in the past, every is now at a higher level and cancelling each other out…

      Or whether things are a notch down?

      Either way I would prefer a damp Dauphine and a red hot tour so I’m not losing hope just yet, in fact I think this might have been the perfect warm up, as now more people will think they have a chance.

      Nibali must be watching with interest, if he has form the conditions are perfect for a second tdf – possibly with some ineos infighting or a crash to help him along…

      • Maybe when lots of riders fancy their chances it dissuades teams from forging alliances, and/or riders from taking risks sufficiently early in the race.
        A quick look at today’s live feed suggests not just Quintana was a ‘damp firework’ today.

      • The TdF has not been a happy stomping ground for Nibali in the last few years and expect that the Giro was his main focus. But I see he is set to be in France this summer so I guess he will be rubbing his hands in anticipation given that some of the main contenders are struggling. I wouldn’t put much money in him.

    • I guess there is something in what you say. The early stages of the Dauphiné has been quite flat. I’ve also been quite surprised that they have taken in so much of Southern France. My understanding of the Dauphiné is that it was located in or near the Savoie Alps, but we’ve been in the Dordogne, Auvergne, Languedoc and Ardeche before making to the Alpes. A big land grab for any prince, and one which has meant flat racing (and therefore sprint finales). Personally I have not been disappointed with things, but I can certainly see that perspective. But having reached hillier climbs the last 2-3 days if racing have been nothing but great.
      As we speak though Yates has abandoned which is a massive surprise. I would say that the inclement conditions have probably done nothing for him, and maybe close proximity to Pinot, so good luck to him. This should give Wout Poels every incentive to exploit this opportunity…..

      • They’ve been west but have done for some time, but no way as far west Dordogne, nor as far south as the Languedoc. The difference with this year’s route is surely the lack of big, high mountains, often the race uses climbs made famous by the Tour de France but this year the race has barely gone above 1,500m… no bad thing given the weather.

        • Yes. I was getting my administrative areas mixed up. I think Occitanie is how I hoping to characterise the start in Aurillac, but plumped on Languedoc as it is one of the larger regional areas. But Aurillac is not part of Languedoc.

      • Stge 2 was the most difficukt stage of the Dauphine – no doubt.

        The ‘mountain stages’ sauturday and sunday where just easy gradient stages designed for the the Sky train to control at eayse (money talks). Fridays stage could have been explosive without the high profile crash of C.Froome.

      • I assume that the extra ground covered to the west of the Alps is due to the recent merger of French regions. Now “Rhône-Alpes”, the traditional Dauphiné region has integrated “Auvergne”, on the other bank of the river Rhône.

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