Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 4 Preview

A hard day in the Alps, today’s stage is up and down all day with 4,600m of vertical gain.

Belleville rendez-vous: more than 50km covered in the first hour and a breakaway containing strong rouleurs like Pierre Latour, Daniel Oss, Chris Juul-Jensen, Bob Jungels and Søren Kragh Andersen helped propel the group to a lead of several minutes. As soon as the climb of the Col de la Madelaine started Davide Formolo said thanks for the ride and dropped them by the first hairpin. As the bunch chased, Formolo was looking more and more tired, at times he looked like he was pushing a wheelbarrow instead of a Colnago but he got the stage win.

Behind another Jumbo vs Ineos contest with both teams on the front again but the battle didn’t look as fierce. Still another day, another iteration and the Dutch team did the damage again, ran out of riders in the end again and Roglič assured again by taking second place and a time bonus. Bernal was distanced inside the final metres to lose a few seconds. However there was more going than two teams, Lennard Kämna tried a late attack which didn’t work but showed he can outride the mountain trains and will be precious support for the consistent Emanuel Buchmann. Thibaut Pinot consolidated his second place overall with another small time bonus and Dani Martinez overhauled Egan Bernal to take the white jersey.

The Route: the industrial town of Ugine will be humming to the sound of rollers as riders warm up. There’s only a short section along the valley before the climbing starts, there’s 4,600m of vertical gain today. The Col du Marais isn’t categorised by the race but it’s a climb proper. The Col du Plan Bois is a “new” climb, unused in the Dauphiné and a good find. It’s narrow and steep, an average of 9.5% but with long sections at 11-12% early and late, the middle section past some chalets at 7% feels comparatively easy. There’s a tricky descent and then it’s on to the familiar Col de la Croix Fry, a big wide road but with some more steep sections and then over the Aravis. The climb to Héry is awkward after a long descent before a technical descent back to the start in Ugine. There’s then 20km of valley riding.

The climb to Bisanne has been used twice by the Tour de France in 2016 and 2019 and is the sort of modern climb ASO’s course designers look out for, a steep backroad rather than the main road. It’s scenic early on with woodland, pastures and chalets before the Bisanne ski resort at the top. There’s a fast descent – interrupted by a short uphill section – and then a lumpy valley road to Megève.

The Finish: glance and the profile and you might think it’s a summit finish but it’s really an uphill drag up a sideroad to the mini airport and the La Cote 2000 ski area. It’s 7km at 4.5% but starts with a 8-9% ramp out of Megève before easing up, then with 2.5km there’s some 7% and right at the end they ride onto the airstrip which is 5% to the line.

The Contenders: a good day for a breakaway, Davide Formolo made it against the odds yesterday. Today the hilly start should allow some riders to get away. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) sat up yesterday so he’s a candidate. Looking at the others who have lost time on GC the problem is this has happened for a reason. Still Mitchelton-Scott duo Adam Yates and Jack Haig come to mind, Rigoberto Uran (EF Pro Cycling) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) too. But it’s a lottery, there’s no telling which move will work and some might prefer to wait for tomorrow too.

Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) is the safe pick, if it all comes back together again then his finishing sprint superior to everyone else and his team look dedicated in support.

Julian Alaphilippe, Primož Roglič
Yates, Uran, Higuita, G Martin, Lutsenko, Haig

Weather: sunny and 25°C, a chance of a shower, even a downpour, late on the stage.

TV: the stage starts at midday and TV coverage should pick up the race on the Bisanne climb. The finish is forecast for 4.50pm Euro time. It should be available on the same channel you watch the Tour de France and/or Eurosport.

39 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 4 Preview”

  1. I got the feeling yesterday that the other teams have pretty much accepted Primoz Roglic is going to win and are now treating the race as a training exercise / opportunity to win a stage. I would guess it will be a tough fight to get in the break, we might even see a very large break as we have seen a few times in recent TdFs. It is likely to be a long day in the saddle for Tony Martin / WvA / Robert Gesink as I doubt there will be any other teams interested in chasing. Thomas de Gendt might be an option for a stage win, he seems to have been conserving his energy.

  2. So do we need to start considering Sivakov as a candidate for Ineos Tour leader?

    I know, I know, early days but he’s climbing better than the rest of them.

    • Yes. INEOS are in disarray. I was surprised they imploded so quickly yesterday, and more so that Bernal got dropped.
      It was a complete collapse, and more shocking because they weren’t on the front.
      On the basis of yesterday it would appear Sivakov is in the better form, but it’s hard to draw any conclusions based upon a single stage.
      It looked like Formolo was close to collapse at the end. He literally dropped to 8kmh briefly. Kudos to him for pushing on.

      • They’re not looking strong but we know Castroviejo’s riding well, he looks to have sat up yesterday to accompany Froome. Swap out Froome for, say Amador or Geohegan Hart who we’ve seen in the Tour de l’Ain and the Route d’Occitanie, and they’d look better.

        • There’s also Carapaz? But not by much. The worrying thing is that the leadership in the team does not look strong with Thomas in particular falling away early, Froome well off his peak and Bernal seemingly off the pace even to other lesser GC riders.
          Yesterday they didn’t seem to be cohesive. I guess the drop off of Kwiatkowski made that look more so (could he be given free reign today for a stage win? He looked one of the stronger riders on stage 2).

        • Sadly, Froome seems to be the weakest link in Ineos’ Dauphiné chain (not that some of the others are particularly strong). He hasn’t been able to provide support when really needed and Castroviejo seems to have been given the job of his personal minder/helper when he goes off the back of the peloton. I think Amador could get the nod for the Tour in his place

      • Formolo was churning the big ring on his climb though, albeit a tad cross-chained.
        It’s weird that some riders would prefer to suffer like that rather than drop to an easier gear?

        • Normally, it’s seen as a sign that you’ve been training/racing too hard and you’re starting to get tired. But it’s always been Formolo’s style though. A bit of a throwback to earlier times, but it’s hard to argue with something that seems to work for him.

          • Yes, old skool victory. In the big ring, first over the madelaine, 60k solo, wearing the Italian champions Jersey and riding a colnago. Class!

      • Disarray is a strong word. Only Bernal and Sivakov have actually fought to keep wheels. The rest of them seem to look down at their power meters, swing off and ride in. Froome is doing it very early though and I doubt he’ll be at the Tour unless Brailsford changes the habit of a lifetime and puts sentiment in front of logic.

        • I don’t think so. The train is not in order and the riders are pulling off way too early. Given Bernal’s failure to ignite (the raison d’etre of a train) on stage 2 and the disintegration of the team yesterday with Sivakov being left on his own there’s no cohesion, the whole “train tactic” is redundant.
          When INEOS get this right each rider will know the order they’re meant to ride in, how long and what to do if a rider pulls off. Stage 2 they managed the order, but seemingly not the length. Stage 3 nothing. Sivakov was like a GC also-ran.
          Today they got Kwiatkowski in break, but only one rider finished in the main group, Sivakov, despite the GC group being pretty extensive. If INEOS are not there to win the overall then their team model implodes. You’ve got some excellent riders who sacrifice themselves for their team leader and if their team leader isn’t going to win then what is the point? They may as well go for stage wins.

          • Well I think the answer to your question, “if their team leader isn’t going to win then what is the point?” is the crux of understanding what’s going and I think the answer sits somewhere between winning and training. I don’t think Ineos came into this looking to train the train so to speak. I think they came in with individuals having been set their own goals. I imagine the hope was Bernal was in good enough nick to still give them a shot at GC but I doubt very much it was the overall aim.

            The question in my mind is how close are the riders to the expectation? Froome looks a fair way off. G a bit less but not so much it’s a massive concern. Bernal a little bit less than that and the fact he didn’t start as a precaution says a lot about how they view this race. The rest look as though this was purely a training ride with the exception of Sivakov who seemed to be there for Bernal. I’d put Dumoulin and Cruise in the same bracket as G but both a bit further ahead with Kuss playing the Sivakov role and again, doing it better.

            Every rider is different but experience obviously gives you the advantage of knowing what your body needs to be ready. Last year for example G was 3rd behind Rui Costa and a long way behind Roglic at Romandie and then crashed out in his final prep race at the Suisse tour. He still took second and arguably could have won had the stages all played out as planned. (Today showed us again that anything can happen and we can’t even be sure Roglic will start.)

            When Dumoulin came second in 2018, the only thing he did was a single Hammer race stage and his Nats where he was 29th, between the Giro and the Tour.

            With the whole season screwed up from a planning perspective and the Dauphine so close to the Tour compared to normal, I really wouldn’t read a whole lot into this week. Especially because every year at the TdF, some guy will start the first week well and people we say they’ve peaked to soon or they’re going to win easily and some will start the Tour slowly and wrongly be assumed to not have the form. If it’s not cut and dried as to how an individual will cope with the three weeks after the first week, it’s a bit of a stretch to being doing that 2 weeks out in a race that might not mean anything to some riders and teams beyond getting ready for the Tour in the way they think best.

        • I’m in two minds on this. On the one hand this is an exceptionally unusual season, so we have no idea what different teams are doing in terms of training (what about the Yates brothers, for example? Expected this to be an ideal race for them). Also, last year’s Dauphine told us nothing about the Tour – looks like only two of the Dauphine top 10 were Tour top 10, with no Tour podium finishers.

          On the other hand, Ineos have had a lot of time to plan for this and they’re usually aiming for a GC win (whether Dauphine or Suisse) pre-Tour from riders who haven’t raced much before then, so why change that? Also, Roglic’s form also settles any Jumbo team politics – looks like the team will be completely focussed on him, which didn’t seem likely when they announced their “Trident” so long ago, so they’ll probably avoid a Movistar-like situation.

    • It feels like Ineos’ transition to the next generation could be turbulent & with a few surprises, just as Froome’s rise was unexpected so something similar may happen again. (And for whatever reason, they don’t seem to have handled the lockdowns too well either.)

    • No. It was clear on stage 1 & 2 that he just isn’t up to it right now. It’s more important to prove himself and test his legs in a race situation. He needs to prove to his team and himself that he’s sharp. It’s clear that sharpness is not there and he’s suffering. You don’t necessarily ride to win, but you do ride to measure yourself against your peers. At the moment he’s a mid-order rider.

  3. Cat 2 a’generous’ classification for the final climb. There’s a lot of climbing beforehand, so the riders might be a bit heavy legged by the finish

    • For years now Sky/Ineos have come to the Dauphiné to win it and in normal seasons when there were typically four weeks before the end of the Dauphiné and the start of the Tour, now there are two so they didn’t worry about holding top form for weeks on end in the past, although many will remember the “has Wiggins peaked too soon” articles after he won the Dauphiné in 2011 and 2012. Ineos look different but it’s all relative, they’re still stronger than Movistar, Bahrain, UAE, Groupama-FDJ etc

  4. Egan Bernal isn’t starting today, France TV’s reporter Nicolas Geay reports he’s got back pain. This should rewrite the script for today, Ineos’s best rider is Pavel Sivakov at over 3 minutes down and the likes of Michał Kwiatkowski and Dylan van Baarle might get to race for themselves today.

      • The collapsing marquee when Bernal went to pick up his white jersey seems oddly prophetic now.

        I hope the Ineos ‘management’ don’t pile the pressure onto Sivakov, they might have learnt something from Bernals collapse…. Or maybe not.

  5. This would explain both him being a bit off peak form and the team seeming to take it somewhat easy yesterday . Added incentive all round for Ineos riders to show form to get in the TdF team, perhaps G or Chris Froome in the break today or tomorrow? I doubt they could pull it off but who knows?

  6. How about we flip the view on this race and imagine we are watching a mixture of full on racing and tapered training rides? We are seeing some sort of race at the front, but I do see a lot of riders, from various teams, sitting up after meeting their own daily goals. As we are 2 weeks from the Tour I would imagine that there will be a lot of coaches wondering what use there is going in to the red consistently when you should be resting/ light training to be able to go in to a 3 week tour without massive fatigue? All in all it makes the coming tour all the more interesting from the technical preparation/received training wisdom as well as a straight race.

    • With only a week to get form I don’t think we’re in the territory for training to have a significant effect. The form they have now will be similar to the TdF, with either drop offs or slight improvements. Let’s put it this way the turkey needs be ready at 12:30, and it’s 12:00. If it’s not close to being cooked then dinner will be a disaster.

      • I think you’re missing the point Andy R was making about training. Normally at this stage, they’d not be racing but doing light training. The fact they need some race days in their legs doesn’t mean they may not be still trying to keep it ‘light’ and I put Dumoulin in that bracket too. You’re assuming this is representative of their “form” but if some of the riders aren’t giving it their all but riding to their planned numbers, then we’re not seeing a true indication of where they are at.

        Btw, that doesn’t mean Roglic might not be in a similar position. He may feel he’s got a lot left in the tank too…

  7. Even if any riders had looked keen to attack Roglic in this race that final climb would nullify such thoughts. Reminds me of the last climb of last year’s TdF – a very odd choice.

    • Had no idea what you meant. Bad news from Italy, but we can be thankful that at least Remco is not in led threatening danger. Haven’t seen the race, sounds bad.

    • I have never gotten to to watch that race but the finish has had some bad crashes. I always hate downhill finishes in tdf or other races. I know the popular response is racing is supposed to be about a rider with “all the skills” but in the industry i used to work in increasing the danger levels like that would not be considered an option. Put the finish on a downhill and people will risk everything for that once in a lifetime chance to win a stage / acclaim / bigger paycheck. The sport is dangerous enough without extra danger. At the same time we should scrap the giro’s super tight corner with 100 – 300 meters to a sprint finish. Every crash has the potential to really hurt / fatal in the worst case scenario with barriers and such.

  8. Man, Kruijswijk crashes out, putting his Tour in doubt. Primoz crashes and finishes, but in significant pain – at the very least, this will disrupt his preparation for the Tour. Makes me wonder if discretion really is the better part of valor, and that Ineos has the right idea in pulling Bernal from the race (I don’t fully buy the story of the back injury).

    Heart goes out to Remco. Hope he recovers quickly and fully.

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