Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 3 Preview

Another day, another summit finish and this time with the giant Col de la Madeleine in the way.

Grenoble fallout: we’re supposed to be looking beyond Jumbo-Visma and Ineos but on the Col de Porte yesterday Ineos had all of their seven riders on the front and behind them sat three from Jumbo-Visma. The two squads are shaping the race and we got a match between two teams. At first it seemed advantage Ineos, they had strength in numbers with Jonathan Castroviejo and Michał Kwiatkowski setting an asphyxiating pace which left Roglič with only Sep Kuss and Steven Kruijswijk; Tom Dumoulin was dangling further back (a bike change and the chase back cost him energy) and Robert Gesink long gone as he’d been working in the valley. But Ineos’s strength in numbers didn’t pay. Behind “Kwiato”, Froome was the next booster rocket on the Ineos spaceship but he blew before he could take a pull on the front and both Thomas and Sivakov took short turns, Thomas reassured a touch after his ride in the Tour de l’Ain. It left Bernal alone, while Roglič had Kuss. The Colombian didn’t seem discouraged, he tried an attack but Kuss got him back. Then Roglič barely attacked, it was a seated acceleration which had Emanuel Buchmann and Egan Bernal looking at each other for a second by which time the Slovenian was gone. Guillaume Martin launched in pursuit but was overhauled on the line by Thibaut Pinot and Emanuel Buchmann. Lower down the mountain Romain Bardet, Tadej Pogačar, Alejandro Valverde and Adam Yates lost time, going from GC Contenders to outsiders now.


Away from the procedural recital, the Col de Porte’s meaning is that neither Ineos nor Jumbo-Visma can control the race, both mountain trains ran out of puff. They spent their riders while rivals grimaced at their limits but coped. Roglič is the strongest here but he’s going to have a hard time controlling the race while the likes of Buchmann, Pinot, Quintana and Porte will be looking for an opening and Miguel Angel Lopez too, now front group material after being outside the top-10 on Mont Ventoux and in Occitanie before that.

The Route: a start outside Grenoble and a ride up the Grésivaudan valley – one of those race valleys not named after its river – and past the Teisseire factory where they make sirop, an additif in many a French bidon although the company is British-owned today. It’s celebrating its 300th anniversary now and there’s a cycling connection as the story goes that the company used to sell its syrup in glass bottles like all its rivals but in 1957 the Tour de France rode past and a company manager noticed the riders had aluminium bidons on their bikes and it got him thinking. This was lighter and cheaper than glass and gave the company a competitive advantage and a different design and to this day alu bidons sit on supermarket shelves in France and beyond.

Then it’s onwards to the foot of the Col de la Madeleine. This is a famous, familiar climb but for a change the race takes a side road to the top that runs parallel to the main route, it’s a scenic version for cyclists who can avoid traffic on the main road and for the race a tackle unfamiliar roads. Either way it’s long, 17km at 8% and with three kilometres over 10% at the start and there’s only one respite at the 10km point where the road briefly levels out and drops before resuming the ascent to the pass.

Then it’s back to the familiar descent into Moûtiers and to the finish which uses the same roads as last July’s Stage 20, the truncated final mountain stage won by Vincenzo Nibali. Only that went all the way up to Val Thorens, this stops mid-way on the ascent.

The Finish: The 14km final climb is better broken down into two segments. The first 10km are on a small backroad with regular sections of 8% or more and this is the steepest part of the climb. Then with 4km to go the route joins the main road, a classic ski station access route that’s wide and gentle, the riders can use the big chainring again but will need to change down for the final as they go through the village of Saint-Martin. The finishing straight is a wide road with an even 6% slope to the line.

The Contenders: Primož Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) once again, he’s got a fast finish and the race is still very close, he can’t afford to share the spoils with Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) or Emmanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) yet, all of whom look lively. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) can sprint fast if he sits tight right to the end rather than covering moves.

Plenty of riders are down on GC now but this is a tough stage for the breakaway, the climbers need to go in the breakaway but they don’t have the power to build up a big lead and Jumbo-Visma and Ineos haven’t finished testing each other either, tomorrow might work out better but still Pierre Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) come to mind.

Primož Roglič
Thibaut Pinot, Egan Bernal, Guillaume Martin
Lopez, Porte, De Gendt

Weather: sunny and 29°C in the valleys but the chance of rain in the high mountains.

TV: the stage starts at midday and TV coverage should just pick up the race on the Madeleine. 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.

34 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 3 Preview”

  1. Thanks for the detailed route and the balanced account of the two top teams. Most of the other popular sites appear to think Jumbo is the stronger team, a debatable view.

    Whilst Roglic presently appears at a higher level than his rivals whilst Froome and Thomas are looking well below the levels expected. It is going to be interesting to see if the old problem of scintillating form before the main course (TdF), or coming into the event at just the right level is going to pay.

    It is going to be interesting.

    • Totally agree, any conclusions that one or the other team is better prepared for TdF are too early and with many unknowns. One thing for sure – it will be the most even TdF in years.

      • Disagree. We are much closer to the tour with this condensed calendar. Jumbo Visma have won two stages so far and have looked imperious. There’s barely anytime to change form. Roglic and Kuss were toying with INEOS. Kuss effectively flicked his head at Bernal as if to say “get back behind” and Bernal’s shake of the head was almost of resignation/agreement.
        They’ve also won MSR and Gran Piemonte. They are on it.
        I think INEOS need to sit and watch now. Let JV lead and soften them up with repeated attacks where they can.

        • Not that I’m experienced in cycling training at all but as a comparison to say, athletics as a discipline I do have a little knowledge of, Ineos look miles off.
          Collectively and individually, other than Bernal and Kwiatkowski.
          Given their huge experience and success at the Tour, I don’t think you can totally write them off (I was being somewhat ironic in my sporting obituary of them yesterday) but they definitely look well second best to Jumbo-Visma in every department.

          • One possibly relevant point, is that restrictions in Slovenia were apparently fairly few. Assuming Primoz Roglich was there he would have been able to train fairly normally whereas most others were restricted . On that basis he could well be a good few weeks further on than some of his rivals. We shall have to wait to see if they catch up or whether he is really on a plane above this time around.

          • There doesn’t seem to be much correlation between lockdown restrictions and form, at least from what we can see outwardly. Pinot, Martin and Landa faced strict lockdowns but are up there at the moment. Roglic and Pogacar faced the same conditions and seemed in the same level at their national championships in late June but their form is different now.

          • Does that explain George Bennett’s win at Gran Piemonte, Van Alert’s win at Strade Bianchi, MSR and Dauphine, Kus’s form and Roglic? I mean they are crushing it.

      • Hope so, but I still see a risk that Roglic might dominate the TdF. He looks veeery strong. For sure guys like Bernal and Pinot will try to challenge, but they might only come somewhat close without really looking like major threats.

    • The hail in those storms is huge, some of the hailstones are the size of ping pong balls but made of solid ice. A few years ago a luxury car dealer in Switzerland had its stock written off by a hailstorm; they were parked up outside the showroom and the hail just wrecked them. The pictures looked as though they had been machine gunned.

      They come out of an empty sky too, no real warning. Sheltering under the inflatable raft was a good idea ( I suppose the owner had been sitting on it while he waited to see the race?..)

  2. It is easy to see yesterday as a definitive changing of the guard but it is too early for that, perhaps the end of this race will tell more. Primoz Roglic does look in good form and recent history suggests that a win at the Dauphine is a good guide to what will happen at the TdF though it hasnt always been so. The pace of the climb did for a good number of riders, perhaps also Ineos are a bit rusty and went slightly too hard, the experience of Wout Poels maybe being missed (and of course Nico Portal) though it is also arguable the pace was not enough as the lead group was still pretty big coming to the Flamme Rouge.

    I suspect we are in for a repeat showing today, Ineos must be smarting from not being able to finish the job.

    • Are you kidding me? Roglic and Kus barely look out of breath. The others are working hard and these two guys are like Alpine cows chewing cud. I don’t even think we’ve seen Roglic go deep.

  3. Fascinating stuff.
    I definitely see this as changing of the guard, for this year at least. Ineos have a combination of age, injury (Froome), bad form, lack of hunger, inexperience (Sivakov) and unwise transfer dealings (Wout Poels). This happens to all dominant sports teams at some point (All Blacks, Aussie cricket XI, Man Utd, Barcelona etc) the question is how fast they can regenerate and come back.

    Ineos will be fine next year. Recruit some super-doms with Froome’s salary, let Sivakov and Bernal grow another year, use the pain from this year (if they don’t win TdF) as the motivation.

    As for Roglic, he looks incredible. No weakness – strong climbing, strong TT, strong team and a killer kick for the finish to grab bonus seconds. Plus ice cool personality and experience leading GT”s means he won’t leak energy stressing over fame and media. It really wouldn’t surprise me if he wins multiple grand tours.

  4. Rinse and repeat. Ineos will take it up and not do much damage, Roglic will accelerate to the win. Pinot looks strong, he’s a good bet for the Tour.

  5. Robert Gesink was involved in the crash.
    Not saying it would have made a difference but this could have been a reason why Jumbo let Ineos do the work yesterday.

  6. So many climbers losing time. Yates (who, according to MTS site, has been ill), Uran, Madouas, Haig, Carthy, Bardet, Knox…. not to mention Sivakov, Thomas, Soler, TVG… Why? Preparing for breakaways, illness, failure to adapt to the strange season, main targets too distant

  7. Battle of the mountain trains is not much fun, although as you say it’s great to see Martin, Porte, Pinot, Quintana equal to it.
    Here’s hoping Ineos try some different tactics to beat the JV train instead. I was reminded of Movistar yesterday, seeing them dominate on the front, use up every rider and come in well off the podium. Why not attack with the ever-versatile Kwiatkowski or the dangerous Sivakov?

    • I’d love to see that. If they don’t have the strongest team train or the strongest rider (seems to be Roglic at the moment), then they could try sending their leaders up front. An attack by Sivakov or Thomas could force a response from Jumbo-Visma and have a chance to isolate Roglic.

      We’ll see. That probably won’t happen during the Dauphine (Thomas and Sivakov are already 3min down) and it’s not really part of their DNA… But if this prompts a change of strategy, I’m all for it.

    • I feel as if the emergence of Bernal has definitely given Quintana a new lease of life.
      As has been mentioned in the past, Quintana is still held in the utmost regards by the other Colombian riders in the peloton and he seems determined to live up to it, understandably.
      He uses Bernal as his main point of reference and is oft to be seen close-by.
      In one way, this could have rid him of the torrid tactical complications he found himself in at Movistar – this seemed to drain him of energy and prompted uncertainty and caution.
      Now, in Arkea Samsic’s colours, Quintana seems more of a man, and a talent, set free again.
      Less expectation perhaps from his team.
      Whatever, it looks to be a good move for him so far.
      I’m very pleased to see him fit and well, he’s as tough as teak as a rider and I have the utmost respect for him.
      Chapeau Nairoman!

    • Speaking of Sivakov, wouldn’t it be ironic if – after all the Ineos leadership media talk about Bernal/Thomas/Froome – he ends up the Tour leader after the road has decided!

  8. Wonder (ie hope) this prompts a change of tactic from Ineos; one when they throw riders up the road & generally create chaos. Jumbo are beating them at there own game at the moment. Suspect they won’t. Also suspect they are really missing Portal.

    • I’m not sure who they have got in this race that is capable of throwing themselves up the road… it would have to be one of Thomas or Sivakov to make a difference (as they are within c. 3mins…) but that would then guarantee that Bernal is isolated in the latter stages (ok, he probably will be anyway)

      I have been surprised just how much stronger Roglic has looked than Bernal. I remember seeing a tweet that Bernal had done more lockdown kms than anyone else on Strava (or something…)

  9. Interesting that Ineos as a team did not perform very well – not to their usual standards – at last year’s TdF (yes, they got 1st and 2nd, but their domestiques were nowhere near as strong as usual). Is it happening again?
    Yesterday seemed a tactical blunder too: not realising your relative lack of strength and going too hard, way too soon.

    • I almost feel like that was the most telling aspect – that Ineos seemingly had such an inaccurate picture of their own form. Not only are they not the strongest team in the race, but on yesterday’s performance, there’s a bunch of people climbing better than their leader.

      I think Bernal hanging his head as he crossed the line summed it. They were shown up yesterday.

  10. The two teams maybe probing strengths and weaknesses in the other.
    Froome May be riding in to form (or he might not have enough time to do that now, 2 weeks? Surely this is taper time?)
    Bernal looked good last year but attacked at altitude iirc, in the 3rd week, which can’t be replicated in this race.
    Hopefully an interesting tour this year, and hopefully it gets to finish!

  11. The two teams maybe probing strengths and weaknesses in the other.
    Froome May be riding in to form (or he might not have enough time to do that now, 2 weeks? Surely this is taper time?)
    Bernal looked good last year but attacked at altitude iirc, in the 3rd week, which can’t be replicated in this race.
    Hopefully an interesting tour this year, and hopefully it gets to finish! Fingers crossed

  12. I’m really glad to see Pinot right on Roglic’s heels, my Slovenian heritage aside…
    Will he have any real support other than Gaudu?

  13. On a slightly different point, JV have given Roglic a rubbish national champion’s jersey, haven’t they? You can barely see the flag at all, reminiscent of Movistar’s worst.

    • National federations have to approve the jersey. It’s a nice triumph for the rider but often it means the sponsors see their branding, eg Jumbo is paying millions to have their yellow logo and tones on display only the national champions jerseys can detract from this.

    • Slovenians are perhaps somewhat mollified by the inclusion above the flag of the distinctive shape of Triglav, Slovenia’s highest mountain and national symbol. Points for creativity and oddly appropriate given Roglic’s current and previous occupations.

  14. Ineous are hard to pick. Bernal is good but not super but may be in a few weeks. Castroviejo is riding well as a domestique. Froome is getting dropped so i guess his form is not great. But he does not look like a guy at 110% when he gets dropped. He looks like somebody riding to a training plan. Same for Thomas but to a much lesser extent. Its entirely possible these guys had a super training block just before the start of the race and are riding on dead legs.
    But if froome is not racing to a team plan to save himself or for training then i would not take him to the tour. Not because his form is poor but because it would suggest he can’t ride 100% for somebody else. Mountain domestiques need to give it 100% for somebody else and be absolutely stuffed when they pull off. Not smiling and joking without much visible exhaustion.

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