The final day of the Dauphiné and another big day the Alps. Before the flag drops the first question is whether Primož Roglič starts, he had a hard crash yesterday and may decide to sit it out, just as Egan Bernal did yesterday.
Ups and downs : things were lively before the race began with Egan Bernal not starting and reports of back pain. It seems a precaution rather than a calamity, Thomas Voeckler reporting for France Télévisions said he saw Egan Bernal out for a spin before the stage and L’Equipe wrote he was spotted out on a ride with a following car, hardly something he’d do if he was in agony.
The race had a very fast start with Thomas de Gendt going solo, he was then joined by others only to pay the price for his efforts and get dropped from the break. He persisted and made it back on the Col de Plan Bois. The day’s breakaway had 15 riders and a two minute lead and it was all quality, everyone in the move could stake the claim to the stage win ahead. The Col du Plan Bois’s descent is tricky and back in the peloton a crash took out Steven Kruijswijk, Emanuel Buchmann and Gregor Muhlberger meaning in the space of a few hours the 1st, 3rd and 4th of last year’s Tour were DNF but all with injuries that should or could allow them to start the Tour de France, the problem is training and recovering in the coming days. Thibaut Pinot was also involved, he somersaulted over the bars, but a picture doing the rounds showed him urinating while others were nursing wounds, a relief in more than one way for him at least. An hour later Primož Roglič fell on a section of valley road but was quickly back up, clothes ripped. Bahrain-Merida tried to test Roglič and Jumbo-Visma on the Bisanne climb but nothing came of it, they shrunk the yellow jersey group down but once they sat up others were able to get back on.
Back up ahead Kenny Elissonde was the first to attack the breakaway in the finish, darting to one side of some street furniture to surprise the others and then using the only steep part of the climb to try to ride away but he wasn’t able to hold them off, first David de la Cruz got him and then Lennard Kämna. The German kept up the power to go solo and crack the others. It’s Kämna’s first pro win but he should be on the radar for all the medals and titles he’s won since a junior and in the U23 ranks and he had a quietly impressive Tour de France last summer where he was able to get in all-star mountain breakaways in the final week and it was about the same time that the chatter said he was leaving Sunweb for Bora-Hansgrohe, a big loss for Sunweb.
Among the GC riders the pattern was confirmed again, even with a crash Roglič wasn’t troubled and Pinot is close behind. Bahrain-McLaren tried but while they upped the pace Mikel Landa couldn’t do much, there was a long way to the finish and it was status quo.
The Route: 153km and 4,000m of vertical gain in a loop around Mègeve, today’s stage is similar to yesterday’s but the climbs are more regular, think ski station access roads rather than backroads. Not that they’re less steep, the quick climb up to Domancy bites and then the Col de Romme is very steep from the start with a long 11% ramp from the start to the second hairpin, it’s the hardest climb of the day. A fast descent with some blind bends comes the Col de la Colombière, an Alpine classic with its steeper second half and then a long descent to start the Col des Aravis, a gentler climb. After another long descent comes the “Côte de la Frassette”, it looks tiny on the profile but this is really the first two kilometres of the Col des Saisies at a hard but 10%. From here it’s 30km of valley road to the finale…
The Finish: the same finish as yesterday in the final 8km but to get to this part the riders have two hard climbs, first the Domancy climb, known as the climb used in the 1980 World Championships and steep but regular then a quick descent to the start the next climb to Cordon, it’s got a hard start before levelling out in the village above and is the last sustained steep section of the race before riding across to Mègeve and picking up the same road to the mini airport and the La Côte 2000 ski area.
The Contenders: another day for the breakaway, but who to pick? Some of yesterday’s strongmen who made the break? Or those who sat back and might be fresher today? Actually both with Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) who seems to be improving and both Michał Kwiatkowski and Dylan van Baarle (Ineos) again too. Among those who weren’t in the breakaway, Pierre Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale), Adam Yates (Michelton-Scott) , Sergio Higuita (EF Pro Cycling), Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos) come to mind.
If a group has a good chance of staying away today there’s a second contest to win the race overall.
Assuming he’s OK today, Primož Roglič leads overall. Roglič is out leaving seven riders within 35 seconds. Look to see if Groupama-FDJ, Cofidis, Bahrain-McLaren, EF Pro Cycling, Astana or Arkéa-Samsic send a rider in the move as they could act as a relay. Easier said that done as a tactic, but it might show who has plans. Some squads may try to defend their GC, eg Cofidis and EF Pro Cycling will be content with a 2nd overall and 4th overall respectively. Attacking today is high stakes stuff, they risk a boomerang move that instead of seeing them move up the GC could see them drop down, both a blow to the morale and a loss of precious UCI points. Still Domancy and the early part of the Cordon climb are obvious launchpads.
|Alaphilippe, Kwiatkowski, Thomas, Yates, Teuns, Higuita, Latour
Weather: sunshine and clouds, 24°C in the valleys.
TV: the stage starts just after midday and 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.