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Critérium du Dauphiné Notes

As a pre-Tour test this was an interesting race and very different to last year.

The race started with circuits around Issoire and a win for Brent Van Moer, who in one of those stories sport happily supplies, triumphed after being sent off course only a week ago when he was alone in the lead of the Ronde van Limburg. He’d probably have been caught by the sprinters and forgotten if he’d stayed on the course… but the loss made his Dauphiné win all the better. Another day, another breakaway success as Lukas Pöstlberger won Stage 2 and took the yellow jersey but no fluke, the Austrian said he’d been targetting this very stage, even doing hill intervals in training prior the Dauphiné to match the duration of the climbs on this stage. Then third time lucky for Sonny Colbrelli who’d won the bunch sprint for two days and did so again, only now nobody was ahead of him. It was the start of a good week for the Bahrain team.

Alexey Lutsenko turned the tables in the time trial, a 1-2 for Astana with Ion Izaguirre close behind on a day when the top-10 had the riders we might have expected, just in an unexpected order with Geraint Thomas imploding in the final. Alejandro Valverde took a win in a stage almost made for him with a finish on the lower slopes of the Col de Porte, an uphill finish.

The final weekend belonged to Mark Padun, winning back to back mountain stages, first riding the peloton off his wheel to La Plagne. Yes he wasn’t a priority to chase down when he went and the GC contenders were marking each other but you can’t fluke this. Then on Sunday he went in the breakaway, won most of the mountains prizes and on the final big Joux-Plane climb he climbed faster than the Movistar and Ineos-led yellow jersey group. He says losing 4.5kg helped – reports say during an altitude camp which is a lot, but just unlikely too, more probably over the course of the spring – and thanked Jesus. His new level raised eyebrows but we’re into epistemology here as people try to look for patterns, we’ll see if he’s selected for the Tour de France but he’ll be hard to leave out now.

The Verdict
As editions go this was good for the breakaways but didn’t have dramatic reversal of recent editions. Last year’s final stage was a thriller and many other vintages have been too. Richie Porte has even been victim of this, in 2017 he started the final day in yellow only to get harried on the descent of the Col de la Colombière by his former team mate Chris Frome and lose ground to Jakob Fuglsang that he couldn’t recover on the final climb. Astana and Movistar attacked Porte on the descent of the Joux-Plane (or the Ran Folly descent for pedants) which did saw the Tasmanian distanced by a few lengths and then Geraint Thomas crashed on a hairpin to leave the yellow jersey isolated. Riders started to attack Porte but he covered their moves and a bedraggled but always indestructible Thomas got across and managed to set a tempo to keep a lid on things and secure the win for Porte.

A few other notes…
Jumbo-Visma bossed the race last year, the sight of the yellow train pulling on the front all day was part of the psychological yoke they imposed on the peloton in the Tour de l’Ain, then the Dauphiné and kept at the Tour. This time they way more discreet, but Jonas Vingegaard had been ill and both Sepp Kuss and Steven Kruijswijk tried some attacks. Perhaps the big question is what this means for the Tour de Franc because if Jumbo-Visma don’t tow the peloton all day then the breakaways have more chance. They can also avoid towing Tadej Pogačar around France too.

It felt like summer as Movistar looked sharper and more coherent and after a quiet Giro Astana looked more imposing again. Ineos though remain the reference point and the fascination for the Tour de France is seeing how they pit their collective force against possibly stronger individuals.

Can Richie Porte win the Tour de France? All the old lines come to mind about piecing together three weeks without a jours sans, without a handling error, without bad luck come. Plus he’s just happy with this win and will spend the Tour riding in the service of Thomas and Carapaz in return although he’s still a Plan C or D. For Thomas this was a decent Dauphiné, not the win but a bonus stage win along the way, the kind riders take when they’re on form physically and mentally, although he didn’t look as incisive on the climbs as he was in 2019.

Did Chris Froome fare better or worse than last year? He finished 47th compared to 73rd last year, but then he was a wagon in Ineos’s mountain train, this time he just wasn’t around when the pace got that high. Does he go to the Tour de France? Probably because unlike Ineos, the Israel team doesn’t have that many must-pick riders. It’s a PR challenge though, how does the “Start Up Nation” team work images of their marquee being dropped into a good news story?

Nairo Quintana had a modest time too. Back in 2012 he was an exciting and promising Colombian climber but went global with his stage win in the Dauphiné, dropping the Team Sky mountain train in rehearsal for Wiggins over the Joux-Plane. Now on the same climb he was dropped early. The Tour’s route with two time trials isn’t for him either so can he pick off a stage win that Arkéa-Samsic crave but the team finished the week with a blasting from DS Yvon Ledanois.

Wilco Keldermann had a Wilco kind of ride, consistent and close to the podium which bodes well for more of the same at the Tour. Jack Haig had a similar kind of ride too.

Is Ben O’Connor Ag2r Citroën’s best signing? Greg Van Avermaet did get a podium in the Ronde but presumably costs more. The Australian climber is going well but turning this into a win is another question. David Gaudu also had a good race, he had a big crash in Tenerife that cost him plenty of skin and several training days so came in short of racing and form and managed alright.

All eyes on the Tour de Suisse now with Carapaz, Alaphilippe, Dumoulin, Benoot, Hirschi, Schachmann, Van der Poel, Fuglsang…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • plurien Monday, 7 June 2021, 10:22 am

    From the Giro and all the one-week tours it seems sure there’s no team able to keep the lid on that first week of the Tour. The more you think, oh Ineos this or JVisma that, the more you think of all the other teams knowing these emperors are without clothes if the breaks are strong enough.

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 7 June 2021, 5:32 pm

      It’s self-fulfilling, if more strong riders go in the break then it has better chances of staying away. Not that every day is going to be a breakaway in the Tour, the route has its share of sprint stages and the opening weekend is bound to be very controlled.

  • Brent Sword Monday, 7 June 2021, 10:23 am

    Still need to see if Thomas has regained his form from 2 and 3 years ago. I took note that after Porte went up the road on the 2nd last mountain finish that towards the end thomas who had not done much front work but followed didn’t cover the last couple of jumps from Lopez and Haig when he really should have. Still building up or a not back at his best after a very lacklustre 2020 only time will tell.
    Mas does not seem to have fulfilled his promise or media hype from a few years ago. Hopefully he can still improve and get there.
    This is the 2nd race finish in a couple weeks were ineous depth has snuffed out and challenge. Bernal and Porte may have been the strongest but controlling the field has snuffed out most chance of tactics upending the results.

  • FR Monday, 7 June 2021, 10:27 am

    He does get alot of (unfair) criticism but despite hating that team with every fibre of my being, I was quite happy to see him get this one. Easy to overlook how impressive a palmares he actually has.

  • global nomad Monday, 7 June 2021, 10:57 am

    couple of typos in the first para of the ‘a few other notes’ section – a missing ‘were’ and and missing ‘e’ on France

    was surprised how off Froome was, with all his riding to numbers maybe he wasnt surprised but he didnt look like someone with either the motivation nor form his past would suggest. Hope he can get himself a little closer to his previous form.

    The commentary suggested that the other riders at the top end could or should have taken Thomas’ 3rd spot with a little more commitment after he had crashed – can we stop calling it bad luck and admit is handling isnt the best…

    • Wipperman_15 Monday, 7 June 2021, 12:31 pm

      If it keeps happening, there’s a pattern here – it’s not bad luck. A track background isn’t the same as an off road background….and it shows.

    • Tovarishch Monday, 7 June 2021, 12:52 pm

      I would have thought that front wheel losing grip while following the same line as everyone else is more likely due to incorrect tyre pressures rather than a handling error but I’m sure they’ll have a thorough postmortem.

      • global nomad Monday, 7 June 2021, 1:07 pm

        following the same line still means you have to feel what you are doing and respond, correct, adjust etc….he is a pro rider who rides constantly, it feels more like lapses in concentration…

      • jc Monday, 7 June 2021, 1:15 pm

        Tao Geoghegan Hart had a similar crash at Paris Nice, sliding out going around a corner in a bunch going downhill. Most likely a coincidence but just maybe there is a bike issue (perhaps because they dont use disk brakes 🙂 )

        • Tovarisch Monday, 7 June 2021, 1:42 pm

          Wasn’t Moscon’s fall the same issue?

          • jc Monday, 7 June 2021, 4:15 pm

            yes it was similar.

          • Vitus Monday, 7 June 2021, 7:33 pm

            Moscon only fall cause he (as the only one in the peloton and amongst spectators) thought he might have to follow a way down GC ranked Nibali. Dumb machismo is the only explanation.

        • L'autre Dave Monday, 7 June 2021, 8:28 pm

          Perhaps it is those curved forks? 😉

          • Bonzo Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 11:07 am

            I seem to remember the team had extra round wheels at one point?

      • The Inner Ring Monday, 7 June 2021, 5:34 pm

        Could be wrong but from only one view it looked like Thomas cut the apex too much and his front wheel was on the edge of the tarmac going into the grass/dirt verge and this cost him.

        • Tomski Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 9:39 am

          I have a theory G is actually a pretty good bike handler, which leases him to take more risks. The results are spectacular either way: stay on the bike and you win, crash and the world watches you. He must’ve rode like the clappers to take back the half minute he lost on the run-in on Sunday.

          • Tomski Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 9:39 am

            *ridden like the clappers

          • Tomski Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 9:39 am

            *ridden

        • Dr Headgear Wednesday, 9 June 2021, 8:44 am

          Thomas was slowing slightly to try and create a bridge between the front group and Porte for the last few metres. I think this was probably an error of judgement that lead him to misjudge the corner.
          But for all of the debate on whether he crashes too often for it to be coincidence, at least a couple of his more spectacular or severe chutes have been entirely unavoidable – the Giro water bottle incident last year which took him out of the race and the 2015 TdF stage 16 where he was barged off the road by Barguill, over the edge and into a telegraph pole.

          • hoh Thursday, 10 June 2021, 12:15 pm

            And the other Giro motorbike incident (also on an Etna stage) as well. Pure bad luck.

            The funny thing is that the Barguill T-bone didn’t seem to affect him at all. He didn’t loose time or had a concussion. Even had the presence of mind to crack a joke when they try to run concussion protocol on him and ask what is his name.

  • Adi Gaskell Monday, 7 June 2021, 11:27 am

    Padun was 122nd in Tirreno, 91st in Basque, and 72nd in Alps, so yeah, I’ll say his performance is one that should raise some eyebrows. It’s like Froome suddenly returning to Tour winning form after a year of nothing.

    • gabriele Monday, 7 June 2021, 12:24 pm

      Froome doesn’t need to do that again, he already did 😉 in 2011 at the Vuelta – and, in more than one way, it was also crazier than Padun because he was one year older, and had had a full season before that year. So, well, he suddenly came 2nd (or won) a GT after struggling to make the top 50 in minor races. Now you know, just bet on Padun to dominate the next four Tour de France or so. What’s shocking is that it still would make more sense than Froome – at least Padun was a talent at U23 level!

      • dft Monday, 7 June 2021, 4:22 pm

        But maybe Froome seemed crap back then because he was the only one who was clean? It’s pointless trying to reach conclusions from these things.
        In any case, clean or dirty, what we have found out in the last couple of years is that his 2010s performances weren’t particularly extraordinary either… unless the new generation are also dabbling… (and so it goes on.)

        • gabriele Monday, 7 June 2021, 7:06 pm

          “Froome seemed crap back then because he was the only one who was clean”
          ROTFL, this was really a good one!

          Let’s take Dan Martin’s case, often regarded as a clean rider, or a clean rider when he was young or whatever. I’m not that sure about it, but anyway it’s something you can’t be much sure of, especially in the short term, that is, for active riders (perhaps when some police investigation goes on – and finds nothing relevant, like in Cunego’s case from a certain date on, and so).

          But let’s assume, as inrng often does, that his peers’ opinion at least mirrored a *cleaner* attitude by the rider (which was also Rebellin’s case, in his early twenties!).

          And we’ll focus on that same 2011, when Dan Martin was indeed quite young, still 25, like Padun now, and with just a few sparse glimpses of class the season before: the Japan Cup, a stage and GC in Poland (over Bole, Mollema and Albasini, not the same Tour of Pologne we know today), an Italian semiclassics (Tre Valli), and a couple of top tens in Giro stages. By far his best season to date, as you’d expect for a 25er, albeit experienced, with three or four seasons among the pros.
          Then he made the expected the leap, although in some specific races, as it’s normal in a youngster. In Spring he was podiuming in GC at Volta Catalunya, with good stage top 5 results, surrounded by Contador, Scarponi, Evans, Basso, Urán. And after a disappointing April of DNFs, his worst GC result was 33rd at Dauphiné, again with a stage top ten. He rarely shone again before the Vuelta, except in Poland, but let’s check him against Froome in common races:
          – Volta a Catalunya (GC, best stage result): DM 3, 4 – CF 61, 24
          – Tour of Cali: DM 14, 11 – CF 66, 17
          – Brixia Tour: DM 30, 10 – CF 45, 21
          – Tour de Pologne: DM 2, 1 – CF 85, 51

          If Froome was simply “clean”, you’d expect much more from him. At least, the sort of results which Martin was able to achieve.

          How did the story go on? At the Vuelta they were both winning stages, but Froome went on to a shocking GC 2nd place while Martin was 14th some 7 minutes back.
          Then, Dan Martin took a Monument runner-up result at Lombardia, behind surprise-man Zaugg, while Froome made 3rd at the Tour of Bejing.

          A comparison with, say, Moncoutié would be equally revealing.

          • GingerTart Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 1:54 pm

            Yawn….

            Will we ever stop rolling out the same boring comment about X not being clean, look at his results, compared against Y who’s probably clean, and Z who may be clean but we do t know, and then comparing final placings over week long GCs, when actually there were hundreds of contributory factors.

            And it’s said to be “interesting” to compare with Moncoutie?? These comparisons are a pointless and stale discussion IMHO.

          • gabriele Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 2:36 pm

            @GingerTart
            You’re right in that in very few cases there’s a serious pattern we can say something meaningful about.
            Yet that sort of impressive data set sometimes surfaces clearly enough, and that’s precisely when it’s worth talking about it. “Hundreds of contributory factors” tend to compensate in the middle to long term.
            And, no, I didn’t say it would be interesting to compare Moncoutié with a “supposedly-clean-Froome” (which was the point defended above and to which I and other were replying to) – I said it would be *revealing*.
            And that’s probably what so many people don’t like, especially as further details of Froome’s “acquittal” (sort of) cast embarassment on both UCI and WADA.

          • David Friday, 11 June 2021, 10:03 am

            ‘Revealing’ in the sense of prolonging pointless and tiresome speculation and revealing precisely nothing.

          • gabriele Friday, 11 June 2021, 4:38 pm

            Oh yes, David, you’re right, let the poor guy alone, it’s not like all those horrible cheaters who stole results from the honest athletes out there.

            In fact, there’s a huge difference – immunity.

            Which persuades so many people that facts are turned into speculations just funneling money and lawyers through the process… precisely as a positive can be turned into an unmotivated acquittal that way
            (when only the latter is true)

        • Vitus Monday, 7 June 2021, 7:37 pm

          “Froome seemed crap back then because he was the only one who was clean”
          Good one.
          In fact, Froome is riding now exactly like he did before he miraculously finished second in that infamous Vuelta. Which was the reason his contract was about to end.
          Let Padun miraculously win a GT now, and we can talk. Until that I call it just BS

    • Richard S Monday, 7 June 2021, 2:02 pm

      Don’t worry, it’s because he’s lost weight..

    • jc Monday, 7 June 2021, 2:34 pm

      https://www.cyclingnews.com/news/erzen-defends-bahrain-victorious-in-face-of-anonymous-doping-suspicions/

      Not sure throwing around accusations is really helpful and can across as sour grapes from other teams. I think the strange season last year (Mark Padun was unlucky not to win a stage at the Giro) and this goes a long way to explain so called “unusual results”, cock up is always far more likely than conspiracy.

      • plurien Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 11:36 am

        +1 on not throwing accusations. Spot testing and bio-passports are far more objective than forum currency.

        On Froome: He had what these days is called a life-changing incident in that recon. Whatever level he was on before, he is not on now and age is against him. These days are hard for him, so press muggings are no spectacle for me.

        Padun: He’s of an age where growth, diet, training and coaching can intersect to bring big advances. Clearly no slouch when he got in the pro peloton, he’s doing what athletes are expected to when they realise [lifestyle + expectations] X experience in racing.
        But yeah, you can be sure he was invited to give samples both times and UCI will know to take a special look over his bio-passport.

        Isn’t it better just to remember about libel laws and enjoy watching rider performance in the knowledge that dopers know they will get caught..?

        • MellowVelo Wednesday, 9 June 2021, 2:52 pm

          Very well said.
          The spectacle of people who have, I think, never suffered such appalling injuries and as a consequence been deprived of the main focus of their adult lives, cat calling and sneering is frankly repellent. The whole incident has been hashed and rehashed ad nauseum, no one has any new evidence, not hearsay or wishful thinking, evidence. They just have spite and envy, presumably in the place where most people keep their hearts.

  • jc Monday, 7 June 2021, 12:10 pm

    I thought this was a bit of an odd edition of the race. No sprint stages and not so many mountains, not sure it really worked. It is always good to see bike racing around the summer French countryside, though we have been spoilt with live transmission of whole stages and it was a bit irritating for that not to be the case here (though understand the budget issue).

    Well done to Richie Porte, no doubt he deserved his win. Ineos were a bit odd, it did seem as if they were all in to get Richie his win (makes sense from a team spirit perspective) but not sure how much it really said about the form of TGH & Geraint Thomas. G seemed to over do the first bit of the TT and then run out of puff, pulled off a surprise the next day, hesitated the day after, was happy to let Richie Porte ride away at La Plagne though he did put in a swift last km, fell over as ever but managed to not only get back to the GC group but pulled RP to the line. Not sure quite what this tells us about July.

    How much longer can Chris Froome continue with the “its all a process” line? He has clearly lost none of his desire but is there really any way back from his injuries? What about the team, how long does it makes sense for them to keep sending him to races? It will be a sad day if he has to pack it in but maybe better that than the current situation.

    Jumbo Visma looked a bit thin, Sepp Kuss was such an important part for Primoz Roglic, he doesnt seem quite there at the moment. Wonder how much longer Tony Martin can keep pulling the peloton along the roads of France?

    It will be interesting to see how things play out in Switzerland, I have a sneaking suspicion that Julian Alaphilippe could be a good bet both there and in July.

    • morten reippuert Monday, 7 June 2021, 1:27 pm

      Kuss is not Rabobank’s plan B, Vingegard is…

      • Anonymous Thursday, 10 June 2021, 11:50 pm

        Other people do blind and prejudiced nationalism, you’re just proud to be Danish. Got it.

    • Chuffy Monday, 7 June 2021, 2:21 pm

      Much as I admire his determination and willpower, it does look like game over for Froome. TBH I can see him retiring before the end of the season. No matter how strong he is mentally, if he can’t get back to the sharp end of the race, there really is no point carrying on.

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 7 June 2021, 5:43 pm

      Froome’s changed the story, early this year it was going for the fifth tour, now he’s saying aloud it’s not on. In a way he’s got to be optimistic, you sort of expect this. But what of the team? It’s an odd look for the very squad that brands itself the “start up nation” to back a single, big asset – or a sunset industry if for another financial metaphor – rather than on several upstart young riders but that’s Sylvan Adam’s choice. How to do they manage the story here?

      • Anonymous Monday, 7 June 2021, 7:10 pm

        the only positive spin will be if they talk up Froome as a mentor/coach to pass on his experience to the younger riders and how to manage 3 weeks…even if he cannot do that himself anymore…

        • Tovarishch Monday, 7 June 2021, 7:15 pm

          They get lots of advertising time for Jerusalem/Tel Aviv.

          • gabriele Monday, 7 June 2021, 9:51 pm

            In sheer minutes, they’re actually getting more of that from Woods (say, even today) or Dan Martin than thanks to Froome. Whatismore, associated to a way better image in the case of the former.

          • Ecky Thump Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 9:01 am

            As a cycling fan, I think of Israel and I picture missiles.
            Unfortunately.

          • Bonzo Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 11:17 am

            Ned and Dave were talking about the sponsorship on riders’ bums and that Sky had IG Markets, but it only works if you’re in the break. As the SkyTrain were always seen head-on, the sponsor wasn’t happy and pulled out after a couple of years. Given that tv directors are focused on Froome and watching him slide out of the back the adverts on his shorts will get airtime. I thought he was going to be road captain?

      • Chuffy Monday, 7 June 2021, 7:28 pm

        Didn’t they sign him on a long term deal? That would be questionable, even if he wasn’t still recovering from his injuries. You have to wonder what kind of clauses there might be regarding performance & recovery. Surely he can’t see out several more years, for that money, in the middle of the field?

      • CA Monday, 7 June 2021, 7:51 pm

        Agreed – it’s very tricky for all involved, how is it possible for Froome to come back? He wasn’t just a little off from the leaders, he was being dropped very early on.

        For Froome it seems very similar to Joseba Beloki. Returning to GT winning form after major injuries in your mid-30’s is nearly impossible. Beloki was losing 5-minutes on a TT when he tried to return. Froome got absolutely smoked this year.

        But, yes, you’re right, he has to be optimistic, and when he was talking to the press earlier in the year he had to say those things… how else could he have handled that? He’s a top level athlete who believes in himself.

        • gabriele Monday, 7 June 2021, 9:56 pm

          Unless you’re immortal Valverde ^__^
          But, yes, you’re absolutely spot on. Froome’s case looks similar to Beloki’s, because of the nature of the injuries.

        • Chuffy Monday, 7 June 2021, 11:04 pm

          I was thinking about Fabio Aru as well. Major surgery a couple of years ago and he’s not looked like a former GT winner since.

          • Larry T Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 3:44 pm

            Huh? Aru had iliac artery surgery in 2019, but he was already going the wrong way, complaining of gluten and dairy intolerance before that. It’s been one thing after another since then.
            IMHO the only hope he’s got is if Beppe Martinelli, who once called him “a jewel” takes over his thinking for him again as he did in the Astana days when Italian hopes were for a rivalry with Nibali that recalled Saronni-Moser or Coppi-Bartali.

        • KevinR Thursday, 10 June 2021, 4:10 pm

          Agree. Elite athletes think differently to us! Froome will not let go of the dream of a 5th Tour win until he himself knows it’s impossible. Until around then, he will believe 100% that he can do it. I’d imagine he’ll want another winter of hard training and another season of peloton riding before anything potentially changes.

          • Anonymous Friday, 11 June 2021, 12:24 am

            Or he’s going to keep taking those massive pay cheques, knowing full well that he is never going to recover.

      • Davetherave Thursday, 10 June 2021, 12:05 am

        They don’t manage it. In fact the lack of proactive PR is striking. Froome veers all over the place with PR and his personal videos are not helping. I admire him as a rider but he i super clumsy with comms.

        IMHO Froome is unselectable for TdF currently. He makes ISN look stupid.
        Better to eat some humble pie, take the PR hit then get on with being a wild pirate crew of smiling stagehunters.

        • Anonymous Thursday, 10 June 2021, 11:16 am

          I hope they take him. The more Israel Sportswash Nation looks stupid, the better.

  • BC Monday, 7 June 2021, 12:52 pm

    The old adage that if it ‘looks too good to be true, then it probably isn’t’ springs to mind after watching back to back stage wins from a virtual unknown, climbing in the big ring for a lot of the time after long breaks.

    Thomas managed to prove once again that keeping his skin off tarmac is difficult for him.

    I’ll get my coat.

    • BC Monday, 7 June 2021, 6:23 pm

      Sorry. Should have been:
      If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

    • Eskerrik Asko Monday, 7 June 2021, 8:42 pm

      There are virtual unknowns and there are virtual unknowns that were so unknown that they got mentions in stage previews before the first of their back to back stage wins.

  • gabriele Monday, 7 June 2021, 1:06 pm

    Outside Team Sky/INEOS special prep, results at the Dauphiné really don’t tell much about TdF perspectives.

    If a rider is very fine, he’s surely on track, but for what? Normally, not a great GC. More probably a decent July with many breaks, or solid gregario work, or some stage win.
    If a rider looks actually awful, like trying hard and failing big, he’ll probably won’t be back on time for the Tour (which is still possible, anyway); but if a rider looks decent, just underperforming a little or not shining, he’s probably doing his homework, as simple as that, same as the huge majority of athletes always did in this sort of races.

    It’s not like Paris-Nice, Tirreno, Itzulia, Catalunya… there, you may bother or not trying to win, but at the startline there’s nothing stopping you from giving it a try. At the Dauphiné, you’re working towards the Tour, which may directly impede being in top shape or should suggest not trying as hard as possible at this specific calendar spot, unless you’re ready to put your Tour performance at risk. Or have sport science on your side, of course.

    In forty years, the *only* relevant exceptions among winners were Armstrong 2002 (in 2003 his rivalry with Mayo at the Dauphiné put at risk Lance’s Tour, although he finally won) and Indurain 1995. Plus… Wiggo 2012, Froome 2013-2015-2016, Thomas 2018. Wow, they really changed traditions, no doubt. One is just left wondering if it was tradition or physiology.

    (An interesting sidenote on this is that when the race began to be relevant in the 70s – before that, only Anquetil and Poulidor had shown up against modest competition – well, for that single decade people were actually going for the double win and sometimes achieving it: Merckx, Ocaña, Thévenet, Hinault… yet, even so, it still was a modest predictor. And, very soon, it was apparent for the riders that it wasn’t worth the try – which, as I said above, essentially determined the race’s history from 1981… to 2011).

    What did the 2020 Dauphiné told us about the Tour of Dani Martínez, Pinot or Guillaume Martin? And in 2019, what about Fuglsang and Van Garderen? The best predictor was Buchmann’s form – he then got 4th at the Tour. Yet, as a pure GC rider, if he really had had great shape at the Dauphiné, he should have easily got the best of Fuglsang and Tejay.
    What about Fuglsang 2017? That year, as so many other times, the Dauphiné athletes who went on raising the bar at the Tour were Aru and Bardet, good but not brilliant at the prep race.

    It’s a nice appetiser and indeed provides lots of subjects for conversation (which, in fact, is the ultimate end of it all), but unless you’re Team Sky’s captain during the golden years – you could see Froome wasn’t on the top of the game in 2014 -, it doesn’t provide great insights about the Tour. And it shouldn’t, indeed.

    • Ecky Thump Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 9:18 am

      I see your point.
      Most, if not all, of the TdF winners that you’ve noted above based their subsequent Tour wins on the strength of their TTs so perhaps what their Dauphine wins demonstrated was that their climbing blocks of training was *adequate*?
      That is to say, it allowed them near / parity to their rivals in the Tour’s mountains.
      And perhaps that has been what this past week at the Dauphine has again shown, Porte, Thomas and Ines will be competitive obviously.
      But I feel that their (only? /) best chance of success against the Slovenians is to play the numbers game, otherwise nothing I saw here convinced me that Roglic and Pogacar will have been left quaking in their carbon shoes at what has transpired.

      • gabriele Wednesday, 9 June 2021, 12:11 am

        Good theory, but it still doesn’t work.
        Surely not for Ocaña or Thévenet, but it looks odd to say that also about Merckx or Hinault, who had an advantage over the runner-up of ten or fifteen minutes, “only” 5 or 6 of which were obtained in ITTs.
        Indurain didn’t race much at the Dauphiné in his best years because he was already doubling up with the Vuelta or he Giro in May. In 1995 it was fine, in 1996, well…
        Armstrong was showing up a lot at the Dauphiné but he underperformed more often than not. 2002 was the only Sky-like performance (Landis, at USPS also, came in second in final GC), while in 2003 he put the Tour at risk to overcome hatred Mayo.
        The lack of good performances across the two races by strong ITT men makes it hard to cross check your point, but there are some good examples which pretty much falsify it, like 1996 with both Rominger and Indurain; Olano in 1997, or Vinokourov in 1999, or Botero in 2005, Leipheimer in 2006, Moreau in 2007 etc.

        The Sky thing is pretty much special.

  • Morten Reippuert Monday, 7 June 2021, 1:25 pm

    Trek’s Skelmose confirms that he is a future GT rider despite being only 20y…

    • Richard S Monday, 7 June 2021, 2:01 pm

      What nationality is he Morten?

      • Morten Reippuert Monday, 7 June 2021, 4:17 pm

        He is 20…. only other 20y old stage race rider in the past 40y with similar (and better) results is Remco 2020.

      • Steve Monday, 7 June 2021, 8:51 pm

        Cruel! But funny

  • DJW Monday, 7 June 2021, 7:03 pm

    Arkea-Samsic with Quintana and Barguil were both disappointing and disappointed, to the extent of DS Yvon Ledanois washing dirty linen in public – a rare event in pro cycling.

    “Il convient de dire les choses : nous ne sommes pas là, où nous devrions être normalement. Beaucoup de personnes au sein de l’équipe doivent se remettre en question sur le plan individuel. Nous ne sommes pas à notre place, et je ne peux pas l’accepter.”

    “Many people in the team need to question themselves at an individual level. We are not where we should be and I can’t accept that”. Blunt. A low-budget team putting all it’s eggs (or €) in one (or two) expensive baskets and feeling let down. It’s lucky that Connor Swift saved thier bacon winning thier home classic Tro-Bro Leon.

    • Anonymous Thursday, 10 June 2021, 11:58 pm

      Washing dirty linen in public is not a rare event on chronically poor French teams.

  • RQS Monday, 7 June 2021, 11:00 pm

    Was pleased to see Thomas win a stage with a crafty and opportunistic break in just over a km to go. I thought that this was a great example of peak Thomas, though he almost threw it away by spending an age looking over his shoulder; only for him to crash on the next stage. But seeing both Thomas and Porte win things means that pixie dust has indeed been sprinkled on INEOS jerseys (by which I mean good fortune, and not anything else).
    Padun’s wins look odd. But it’s not like similar sorts of “good form” haven’t been seen in the past. Bahrain Merida’s good form maybe a little supercharged. But there’s not too much to say that they’re doing anything different, but maybe just differently to others. I note that their response included a reference to Rod Ellingworth which isn’t the ringing endorsement that I imagine it was supposed to sound like. “Our man has trained Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins, so our record on drugs and winning is quite imaginable….”
    Has the Dauphine moved in the calendar? I presume not, and that my recollection is just off. Agree with the synopsis that riders are covering their hands. You can usually read those with poor hands, but not the eventual TdF winner. The Dauphine doesn’t decide the TdF pot, it just gets you to see the river before final bets are made and hands are shown.

    • gabriele Monday, 7 June 2021, 11:29 pm

      Yep, I loved Thomas’ win, too. Very pistard. And I’m always eager to see that sort of finisseur move, even more so when they stick, obviously enough. I think people were commenting on this subject during the Giro.
      As others noted, it looked like the sort of things which a rider tries when he’s in good mental and physical shape. Difficult, supposedly not that much necessary in the grand scheme of things, but when you feel you’re in the right spot… why not? The finisseur move by Nibali in Sheffield was this sort of thing, although already on the big scenario.

      • DJW Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 7:56 am

        On French TV, Jalabert used the term “roublard” for Kwiato’s organisation (by delaying his acceleration out of the apex) of the Thomas escape at 1km. Roublard translates as wily or crafty. Quite so.

        • plurien Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 11:45 am

          The final kms of that parcours were odd. Why no barriers on that central kerb? Sagan and MVP would have hopped that, no trouble. I think it probably confused a few riders who would have been trying a lot harder had the uncertainty been removed by barriers.

  • Charles Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 1:10 am

    I thought I read the Padun put his results down to putting weight on not losing it, which is what he blamed on his poor 2020 results. Having said that, back to back wins… really?

    • Eskerrik Asko Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 6:23 am

      The Inner Ring’s version of what Mark Padun revealed about the secrets of his Dauphiné success was strikingly different or even completely opposite to what my other favourite source told me, but I chose not to make a noise about it because I hadn’t seen the interviews or read full transcripts – and because I thought it entirely possible Padun’s comments, given as they were in an emotionally charged state of mind, slightly incoherent and so, could support opposing interpretations.
      But in short: I understand that what Padun meant to say was that he had previously made the big mistake of trying to become a winner by losing weight in order to improve his W/kg and that getting enough fuel during training and in races was the big change.

      I don’t think one has to be criminally naïve in order to accept that this wasn’t a story he had been told to present to the media. Whether it is the whole truth is anyone’s guess, but he certainly wouldn’t be the first young rider to make the same mistakes or to more or less lose a year or two.

      • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 9:44 am

        He mentioned having weight/diet issues as a long term issue, but this time says he lost over four kilos. But maybe it wasn’t all at the recent altitude camp but more gradual this spring?

      • Davesta Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 2:07 pm

        That was my understanding of what he said while watching the interview – that he was previously underfuelling. But this can go hand in hand with losing weight – ie losing weight in the right (healthy) way vs starving yourself and suffering physically.
        Indeed, it was noticeable that the photo the Dauphine used of Padun in the results was of a very chubby-faced youngster, in comparison to the more toned version that appeared on our screens in the interview. It reminded me of a young track-star named Geraint…

  • skidiot Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 1:35 am

    Padun’s ride was outlandis.

    • Charles Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 1:53 am

      Great pun!

  • AndyW Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 9:34 pm

    Is Geraint Thomas oddly underrated? He’s got an uncanny ability to crash at high profile moments and is typecast as the ex-track cyclist who can climb a bit, yet is always up there when he focuses on it (“indestructible” is quite apt from IR). Written off as underprepared for the Tour last year and then gets 4th in World Champs TT and 2nd in Tirreno. Similarly underprepared in 2019 and was 2nd at the Tour. This year he’s never looked remarkable and has partially ridden in the service of others, yet his last 3 WT stage races have been 3rd, 1st, 3rd. Think I’ve said it before on this forum, but reckon he could push Roglic although probably not Pogacar.

    • gabriele Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 11:22 pm

      Everything can happen, but since that 2018 Tour de France (three years ago), Thomas – now 35 – never looked even close to Roglic’s subsequent level, which indeed fast rocketed higher and higher.
      All that, despite the fact that *in 2019* Roglic was still being beat by an already declining Nibali at the Giro.
      Geraint and Primoz didn’t cross swords very often since, but Roglic always seemed on a different planet, both when they were in the same race and indirectly, that is, comparing overall performances through their different calendars.
      However, Thomas is indeed a champion and a classy one, which means it’s legitimate to expect more or less anything from him.

      PS That 2020 Tirreno had one of the poorest final GC in the race’s recent history.

      • AndyW Wednesday, 9 June 2021, 1:05 am

        I’m always wary of “race XX had the poorest GCs”, or “XX only won because of…” statements. I’d say the 2020 Tirreno had a pretty standard final top 10 for a ~1 week stage race (Yates, Thomas, Majka, Kelderman, Vlasov, Masnada etc.) but perhaps lacked a Slovenian for 2020 GC sparkle.

        Roglic can seem on a crazy level, but he rarely seems to decimate the opposition and instead it’s time bonuses and TT gains. Very curious to see if Ineos can deploy their three/four-pronged attack effectively, or whether they’ll revert to type. While it was refreshing to see them quite relaxed about leadership at the Dauphine, firing guys up the road at the Tour might just quickly burn matches with no gain.

        • gabriele Wednesday, 9 June 2021, 8:56 pm

          Man, he didn’t even win! ^__^

          And I’m a fan of Thomas, but he struggled to overcome Majka, who was 2-3 years past his top-5 ambitions in any other sort of GC. Kelderman (whose GC ambition would crumble at the following Giro) was the qualified rival he could beat, whereas Vlasov, Masnada or Knox were (are) still maturing. Make of it what you want, but I wouldn’t be impressed.

      • Larry T Wednesday, 9 June 2021, 4:23 pm

        35 years old? I think you’re done as a GT contender. Oldest winner in Tour history was 36 back in 1922. Sure, Horner won La Vuelta at 40-something and The Green Bullet continues to go well at 41 but nobody thinks he’s gonna wear yellow in Paris so Thomas, Froome, Nibali, etc. should forget about it. As they say, “There’s remains no cure for the common birthday”.

        • KevinR Thursday, 10 June 2021, 9:05 pm

          A very bold comment – and possibly rash – comment about Thomas. He’s more than capable of winning the Tour again with the team at his disposal. Roglic chips away with sprint times bonuses and has suffered recent reverses/setbacks while Ineos – love them or lithe them – are more than capable of properly roughing up Pogacar.

          • gabriele Thursday, 10 June 2021, 11:58 pm

            Properly roughin’ up Pogi? Itzulia anyone?

            I think that no INEOS rider *ever* ended up above Pogacar in *any* GC.

            That is, the last time… was also the first and the only one – but it was still called Team Sky!
            Pogacar was 20, and Poels was 3rd at the Tour Down Under whereas Pogacar was 13th.
            It was his very first stage race in the pro ranks.
            Since then, Pogacar has raced a dozen stage races, 9 of them WT, including three GTs, with Sky/INEOS always at the start barring a single Tour of Slovenia (HC) – and he always bested all the riders from the UK team.

            Obviously it’s essentially funny data. Next TdF looks like a nice context to break the series. Will they?

          • Larry T Friday, 11 June 2021, 8:57 am

            Well, I’m nothing if not bold…unless you count old, bald or slow on a bike unless the road goes downhill! Can “Mr. G” go against all the Tour history in 2021?
            I haven’t seen anything to suggest it, but I wouldn’t bet a dime on him. Has their team been named yet? I think they gotta worry about the old “too many generals and not enough grunts”, but what do I know? 🙂

  • jo Friday, 11 June 2021, 11:12 am

    speaking of raised eyebrows: lutsenko winning a time trial? lutsenko hanging on with the best on several mountain stages? seems quite weird to me.