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Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 1 Preview

The opening stage of the Dauphiné has some familiar roads before an uphill finish. This is notionally the flatter stage before the Alpine racing ahead but it’s all relative, it’s a hard day in the saddle with a tough finish.

The Route: the longest stage of the week, this is the flattest day of the week but there’s still 3,500m of vertical gain, a hard day’s work and potential ambush country. It’s 218km east out of Clermont-Ferrand, a home start for Romain Bardet and Rémi Cavagna but the star of the Auvergne region has to be Julian Alaphilippe, not from the city but he came here for his education and now we’ll see if he can school the peloton. The Col du Béal should ring a bell, it featured in the 2014 Dauphiné as a summit finish when Chris Froome and Alberto Contador traded blows. Then it was a HC-rated climb, this time it’s only a lowly second category climb, but it’s a different route up. Then it’s across the Forez area of central France.

With 63km to go some in the peloton might get déjà-vu as the road tackles the road up to Saint Héand, it was the start of the time trial stage of Paris-Nice in 2017 and then it’s onto the finishing circuit with 36km to go and they cross the line for a recon of sorts with 35km to go. Then comes a gradual descent and a similar climb up. Here the Col du Gachet is gentle at 4-5% most of the time but anyone towards the back of the peloton will find it hard to move up and there are some tight bends to stretch out the pack on the way up too.

The Finish: a quick drop after the col with 1.5km to go and the road rises up, gradually at first before tightening to 14% just before the line.

The Contenders: Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) is the obvious pick, he showed his punch on the Poggio and today’s uphill finish suits and several teams, including his, have an interest in setting up the uphill sprint rather than letting the breakaway stay away.

Only Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) might have his say but unlike the via Roma last Saturday, today’s uphill finish suits Alaphilippe so much more. Also team mate Primož Roglič is a safety pick, he’s got bigger ambitions this week and next month but has a quick sprint and this might mean WvA is on bodyguard duty.

Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r La Mondiale) is one to watch today, the former U23 World Champion has plenty of punch and the team made sure they re-signed him before shopping for the likes of Greg Van Avermaet. He won last week in the Route d’Occitanie, attacking on the uphill finish in Rocamadour to hold off the GC riders and dreams of a World Tour win. If not today then soon.

A punchy uphill finish? Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) comes to mind. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) would normally be a strong pick in the past but so far isn’t looking as prolific in 2020. Sergio “scorpion” Higuita (EF Pro Cycling) has a fast finish for today, can he fight for position before? Among the GC contenders Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) could feature, ditto Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). Outsider picks are Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) and Xandro Meurisse (Circus-Wanty)

Julian Alaphilippe
Dylan Teuns, Sergio Higuita
Valverde, Cosnefroy, WvA, Pogačar, Roglič, Hirschi, Meurisse

Weather: warm and sunny, 33°C.

TV: the finish is forecast for 4.30pm Euro time. It should be available on the same channel you watch the Tour de France and/or Eurosport.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • noel Wednesday, 12 August 2020, 9:47 am

    Roglic looks so comfortable, I wonder if he’ll want to stamp his and Jumbo’s authority on this race from Stage 1… their A team must be giving Brailsford sleepless nights right now.

    It’s interesting to see quite a few names you’d fancy for Il Lombardia taking part here instead… Kwiatko, Valverde, Lutsenko etc etc…

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 12 August 2020, 10:38 am

      It’s a very strong field, normally the peloton splits in two with Tour de Suisse getting some good riders but this time everyone doing the Tour wants a stage race in the legs. Talking of which, we’re likely to see an even stronger field for the Tour, with most the Dauphiné field but also teams will bring some of their classics captains, both because they’re strong riders for help and stage hunting but they’ll want a grand tour in the legs prior to the classics, the likes of Naesen, Van Avermaet, Vanmarcke or Durbridge.

      • Ecky Thump Wednesday, 12 August 2020, 11:25 am

        Wow, good news.
        I wonder what the ramifications are for the Green Jersey in the Tour?

  • Stuie Wednesday, 12 August 2020, 10:01 am

    What an interesting edition this will be. I expect Ineos to be a bit stronger than the last couple of weeks, but Jumbo will still be the team in control. My only worry for Jumbo is that they peak at the wrong time.

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 12 August 2020, 12:11 pm

      I heard a theory that Ineos went into l’Ain straight off the back of a hard training block as a way to simulate a longer harder race and that the difference between them might been more of a matter of fatigue vs freshness. I suppose we’ll see in the coming days. Tantalising!

      • Digahole Wednesday, 12 August 2020, 12:13 pm

        …me above

  • StevhanTI Wednesday, 12 August 2020, 10:06 am

    It’s so hard to gauge the riders’ form and intentions this season. I mean how are we to know how good the Colombians are for instance? Take Matthews on Saturday: winning the bunch sprint on the Via Roma in his first race post-competion-interval, maybe not unexpected for him but very remarkable nonetheless. Same for Ala: poor result in Strade, citing bad luck but also sub-optimal form and ulterior goals, quite understandable really, and then, bam a week later he demolishes the field on the Poggio like only he can. Such a weird situation. It looks like only a handful of top dog riders you can reliably say are in form or getting there: Ala, Greg, WvA, Pogacar and Roglic, the rest, mostly enigmas I’d say.

  • PaulR Wednesday, 12 August 2020, 12:23 pm

    For UK viewers without Eurosport/GCN subscription, ITV4 (Freeview channel 24) are showing highlights at 19:00 each day.

  • RQS Wednesday, 12 August 2020, 1:36 pm

    One wonders if anyone wants to reveal there hand before the TdF. Not that there’s a lot that can be done to change form between now and then. I suppose many riders will be worried about having a “Froome” before the tour – so perhaps the racing will be conservative. It is an otherwise mouth watering prospect ahead of the main event.

  • cp Wednesday, 12 August 2020, 7:42 pm

    I only could catch the last 20km of the stage today.
    What happened to Froome? Was he on super-domestique duties today and burned himself out? Or? And is it too much to read into Bernal beating out Roglic et al in the final sprint?
    Wout van Aert is amazing, to say the least.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 12 August 2020, 8:56 pm

      He appeared to sit up and coast in. Maybe he wants to be fresher for tomorrow’s stage?

      • Breadloaf Thursday, 13 August 2020, 11:21 pm

        It appeared that way, indeed, but it seems an inherent risk in doing so unless he has 100% been promised a slot in Le Tour squad, no? I suppose the alternative risk is blowing up and coming in 15 minutes down.