The Moment The Critérium du Dauphiné Was Won

It’s hard to pick a winning moment as to review the startsheet before the race was to pick Primož Roglič and after a week’s racing the result now feels like an inevitable formality. But he did a great time trial to ride away from the other GC contenders, including thirty seconds on his team mate Jonas Vingegaard and this allowed him to be well clear of everyone. He didn’t defend but attacked come the mountains and on the last day only Vingegaard looked stronger and enjoyed a stage win for his support.

The Critérium du Dauphiné invites us gaze up from the road and to the Alps and their ridges and peaks, and then to look beyond and imagine what lies over the horizon: what will July look like?

This year’s Dauphiné did at times look like a giant Jumbo-Visma training camp, like boxers who’d invited others to spar with them. They could conceivably have won every stage if things had gone their way: if another team had helped chase a bit more into Brives-Charensac, if van Aert hadn’t sat up to celebrate, if he’d found an extra two seconds in the time trial. But all that is conditional and if sport was so obvious few would watch.

Particular circumstances meant Jumbo-Visma did get the lion’s share, and their share of toy lions too. First the course deterred many sprinters which advantaged Wout van Aert on some days, many potential GC rivals for the Tour de France were not there either and the pre-race preview here was clear Roglič was ahead of the rest just on the startsheet. Jumbo-Visma brought their almost-Tour team when others did not. Add that to Wout van Aert’s range, which is like the Dauphiné as keeps expanding from one region into another. He can sprint and two stages and the points jersey will be satisfying but being just two seconds behind Ganna must be the most tantalising, as with fresh legs for Copenhagen rather than days of sprinting, he will fancy his chances for the yellow jersey.

Presumably terrabytes of bandwidth will now be used speculating on whether Roglič or Vingegaard is the team leader. For Jumbo-Visma management though surely there’s no hierarch? Having two leaders is better than one as they can keep both their rivals… and their leaders guessing alike, prompting both Roglič and Vingegaard to be at their best, something Sky/Ineos have done before. There’s almost never a scenario when the team has to decide between them, as if both puncture while level on GC and there is only one spare wheel. Instead it could be a crash, an off-day, or simply the racing that decides. Vingegaard seemed to wait at one point on the last stage but Roglič has that zip for stage wins and time bonuses but always a question mark about constructing a perfect three week run. All the more reasons to deploy both, arguably the harder questions are who their teams picks in support, the balance of support between GC ambitions and helping van Aert take stages and the points jersey.

Ben O’Connor rounds out the podium and deservedly so, he was a decent 14th in the time trial stage and among the GC contenders, then on the weekend’s summit finishes he was just behind the Jumbo-Visma tandem, including being only 15 seconds behind on Sunday’s Plateau de Solaison finish. It’s a great result but the Dauphiné means extrapolating from June into July and if he can podium now, what can he do in July? Yes he seems to be improving but he’ll face a deeper field in July, it’s that awkward balance of trying aim for the podium but knowing that while fifth place is laudable, a stage win might bring more value. But just being at the front of affairs is a big performance and keeping this form is his challenge.

It was one of those glass half-full/empty weeks for Ineos, a stage win with Ganna and they were close with Ethan Hayter for more stages, but only an 8th overall for Tao Geoghegan Hart who was downplaying his ambitions, it’s more we’re used to the team setting the pace in this race. UAE fared worse, Juan Ayuso had a great time trial and Brandon McNulty and George Bennett seem to be coming into form but to work for others.

David Gaudu got a stage win but his GC bid imploded on the last day. His time trial performance was solid but the heat proved his undoing, like Mont Ventoux during last summer’s Tour de France. He’s off to Tignes now for more altitude training but could do with time training in the valleys below too as a heatwave arrives across much of western Europe this week.

Among the other rides, the smaller teams thrived. TotalEnergies had a great week with two stage wins. It’s rare for second tier ProTeams to win in the World Tour so two home wins will have management beaming. But their eyes are already on the Tour de Suisse, where Peter Sagan’s form is in question and with it, whether he starts the Tour de France.

Pierre Rolland took the mountains competition, turning a breakaway on the first day that got him the jersey into a weeklong project and success and going full circle to 2008. He and the B&B team needed this with Uno-X jostling for that wildcard, the Norwegian team won the white jersey with Tobias Halland Johannessen. There’s talk B&B could land a big new sponsor but if that happens, it’s another thing to ensure it’s sustainable and build a stronger team, but it’d be a start.

The Verdict
Predictable but entertaining. To write stage previews was to tip a Jumbo-Visma rider almost every day but there was still suspense. The hilly stages invited breakaways where some stayed away, but only just while those that were caught were reeled in with sight of the finish, both on the flatter stages and in the mountains alike, Carlos Verona’s win was exemplary as he won from the breakaway but with a chasing Roglič in sight behind him in the finishing straight.

Jumbo-Visma will be purring after their week. Neutrals worried about dominance needn’t be, imagine if they’d also faced Pogačar in the mountains or van der Poel for the hilly sprint stages, or add on many other names. This is where mouths start watering ahead of the Tour de France. There are sometimes complaints that the best riders don’t ride together all the time. But if the Dauphiné, Suisse and Tour startlists were identical then what good would that be, who one episode last week in France, and repeat in Switzerland and the same cast again in July? We’re in the phase where we look to the mountains for clues, whether in France last week, or Switzerland, Slovenia and even Strava this week. The Tour de France is tantalising right now because it sits over the horizon and we can only imagine what awaits.

44 thoughts on “The Moment The Critérium du Dauphiné Was Won”

  1. Johannessen was a fresh face to me and had a self assured manner. He will be on that I will be on the watch for.
    Changing subjects, the Col de Columbine has a big impact on TV but that could be due in part to the telephoto lens. Can anyone comment on the experience of arriving there in person?

    • I thought those spectacular shots, just over the crest of the Col and then rising and backing away to reveal the Alpine panorama behind, were from a drone?
      Drones are being used to devastating effects in the war in Ukraine but here they brought a happier and newer perspective to the viewer.

    • It’s the TV camera work with the parallax effect.

      Arriving in person at the summit of the Colombière is normally more reaching the top of a climb to find cars parked outside the cafe at the top and souvenir cowhides and sheepskins lining the road, without the benefit of the extra height of the camera.

      Other climbs are more impressive at the top when you visit, typically when there is little else. The Galibier for example is the crest of a ridge and after winching yourself up and seeing the ribbon of tarmac in front of you for too long, suddenly you’re looking into space and the views in every direction are great on a good day.

  2. I need to get up earlier in the morning. Then I can read the sense, the wit and the balanced flow of Inrng without getting tempted to read those self-satisfied, unpleasant contributions to the comments section, ever so ‘umble though they profess monotonously to be.

      • IMHO all comments from Anonymous and his family should not be posted. If you don’t have the cojones to put your real name on ’em, WTF cares what you have to say?

        • Inrng is anonymous too though(?)
          Tbf anonymity online should be fine, in the early noughties it was the de facto way of using social media, both by choice and advice, then Zuckerberg changed that culture completely.

          • But you can be anonymous (as most of us are) and still at least admit your virtual identity, so to speak. I would take the liberty to interpret Larry’s comment that way.

          • I’m not that keen on the fake names either for the same reasons but at least with those you get an idea of who it is based on regular comments vs Anon & Co who can make comments that you have no idea of the source. It’s not my blog but I usually scroll past Anon & Co’s posts, even when they call me out by name. What are these people afraid of? If you just want to throw out anonymous snark, there’s, right?

          • I take most of your points, but would also say that there have been times in the past where I have posted in a hurry, or was unfamiliar with a format, and have posted a ‘Anonymous’ accidentally. This is likely to be a default for new users and I wouldn’t want to discourage them, or people like my wife with an unnecessarily inflated fear of identity theft, so let’s allow this stuff.

  3. “TotalEnergies had a great weak” 🙂 (Freudian gym-slip?)
    If only Ben had had a team to support him, he may have got closer…

    • Fixed that. And it sounds like Ag2r will be going into Bardet mode again as they try to protect O’Connor as their big GC hope. They have some riders who can win a stage from a breakaway like Cosnefroy or Champoussin, Bouchard can go for the Tour’s mountain prize to add to his Giro and Vuelta ones but O’Connor has to be their best plan for now and he’ll have some support riders.

  4. Like IR I enjoyed the race.
    Good point about the joint leadership in Jumbo-Visma.
    Whilst Roglic has the stronger TT of the two, here he only took about 1” / km out of Vingegaard on the TT and that was on a flatter course that probably suited him better.
    The 40 km TT in the Tour has some hills but, crucially, is late in the third week when Roglic has struggled at times in the past.
    So, who knows, maybe it will be a case of two chances are better than one?
    If Sagan is at the Tour, and MvdP is not too fatigued after his Italy trip, the Green Jersey / GC combo could be difficult for Jumbo-Visma and van Aert though?

    • Judging by the first day in Suisse, Sagan won’t be causing WvA any trouble in the Green Jersey hunt, even if he does go to Le Tour…I expect Jakobsen will be a bigger worry for him, as he could feasibly clean up in the flat sprint stages along with some intermediates…

  5. So intrigued to see how Ben O’Connor (BOC) gets on in the TdF. He was really solid this week, even though he didn’t trouble JV. Will AG2R send any helpers for the mountains or fill the team will riders looking to get stage wins. I hope he gets at least 2 dom’s and tries to back up last years performance. I see him as a bit of a Rigo Uran type figure.

  6. Thanks again Mr Ring for the hard work put into these posts. Lasting impression from last day was Kruijswijk on the last climb dropping all bar O’Connor. JV do really have the problem of who not to take to TdF. Personally I would take WvA and say to him he’s on dom-duties until stage 19.

    • Wout is a star rider in his own right, and Jumbo seem to have found the right balance between giving him leeway for his own ambitions and using him as a lethal weapon when they really need him (Roglic may not have won Paris-Nice without him, for example). It’s worked really well over one week races, but we’ll have to see how it plays out over the course of three.

  7. About the two leaders debate (three, if you consider WVA as a leader for the green jeresey)… the main issues could surface in the less considered tricky and/or hilly stages rather in mountain or “pure sprint” ones. You can easily keep your two or three leaders on the front while you reel the break back for WVA in a flattish stage on wider roads and under modest winds, just as on the mountains maybe it’s not that necessary to have several gregari assisting every captain – they can rise the pace for both Roglic and Vingegaard as they did at Dauphiné while WVA takes care of himself.
    Yet, the stages which are more akin to classics may require a couple of supporting riders for each of your “captains”, or at least one for WVA and two each for the others (one shielding them from the wind and one protecting their wheel). Also note that echelons might sometimes split the peloton in an unpredictable way, so redundant protection is required. Both Movistar at the 2015 TDF and Sky at the 2014 TDF (or at the Giro with Porte as a leader) famously experienced the consequences of lack of protection, although in Sky’s case it wasn’t about multiple leadership. And you can’t simply ask your leaders to ride together or to cover each other because on some roads that could lead directly to disaster.
    The first week might even be the more challenging one in terms of team effort, stage 2 to 6 with the possible exception of stage 3 might be the one who test harder the team’s depth in order to keep a double challenge alive. No doubt, against bad luck two leaders are better than one – but what if bad luck isn’t only about bad luck and it depends on all around team support, too?
    Luckily for them, they’re a superteam and the gregari will all be there in numbers and still strong, but the stress will be notable.

    (Then, of course, two leaders may imply the general question of what do you do if there’s an attack and one of the leaders is on the back foot, think again Movistar 2015, but I suspect that Jumbo-Visma would do better tactically, and quite better than UAE did in the Itzulia won by Roglic).

    • i think with 3 leaders out of 7 the answer is to ride as a team rather than as 3 leaders, each with a domestique (plus a spare). if all 7 are together most of the time (or at least the 3 leaders plus most of the rest) then there is always plenty of support for everyone. the trouble comes if someone is out of position or has a bad day but then if you have a bad day that probably answers itself

      • Yes, of course, but my point is precisely that on certain courses “riding as a team” might be a problem, or at least easier done than said, especially if twisting or narrow roads are involved, as well as in case there are echelons. We’ll see, I really don’t know those first-week French roads either, perhaps the route is hilly or close to cliffs but actually not that technical. And OTOH, as we saw at the Giro in a couple of occasions, if the racing doesn’t heaten up, things won’t necessarily complicate themseves that much.

    • Much to agree with here. The wind is very likely to be a factor on stage two as the race crosses the sea on a long exposed bridge, much like in 2015 some GC contenders could be ex contenders by the end of stage 2. Not sure mountain domestiques are going to be much help for the first week. Some riders will inevitably have bad luck on Stage 6 (maybe more if it is wet) and having team mates nearby is vital. Presumably WvA must be high up the list of favourites for that stage but who shepherds Primoz Roglic & Jonas Vingagaard around? I seem to remember that the basis for Vincenzo Nibali’s win was Yorkshire hills & Flanders mud long before a mountain peak had appeared on the horizon.

    • There’s one thing about “Keyboard DS”…it always has the benefits of hindsight. We read lots of “Team X needs to do Y” beforehand, but if/when it doesn’t work, we hear nothing. Reminds me of the psychics who predict a whole list of stuff…but you hear only about the 1 or 2 things that actually happen…and nothing about the rest.
      Before we get to Le Beeg Shew, what about this Hayter kid at the Giro U23? Is he the more talented one? So far he’s tearing the legs off the rest, can he keep it up and WTF can’t his team boss, the son of Eddy, get the bike company using dad’s name to supply bikes to this team instead of BMC?

      • Sometimes I play a game where I read Larry’s replies before I read the comment he’s responding to. I try to imagine what the original commenter said to rile Larry up and bring out his “Keyboard Police” mode. In this case I was looking for a comment full of hindsight-infused pseudo-knowledge where some cycling fan opines that they’d have outsmarted the actual DS of a team in a previous race, perhaps along with some specific but surprising predictions of a future race, any of which, if they came to pass, would be startling and impressive.

        Instead I found a long foreshadowing rumination full of specific hypotheticals and examples – i.e., the kind of thing many of us come here to read and share, the kind of thing I regularly hear in some of the better cycling podcasts about things to watch for that provide the kind of context that makes watching a 5-6 hour cycling race actually fascinating. The ironic contrast between what Larry’s reply leads me to expect, and what I actually see, provides the pleasure in this game. I will admit I have a slightly odd sense of humor.

        I did appreciate the random and wonderfully obscure Ed Sullivan reference. Or was that a reference to a France 2 family television show?

        • Happy to have entertained you. I don’t look at a lot of cycling social media but should not be surprised that it’s full of “Keyboard DS”s who have certainly never run any sort of team and likely never even pinned-on a race number.
          Perhaps it’s just me but this stuff seems to be more and more prevalent here these days? Or maybe as an old-fart I just notice it more, but one of the things I enjoy most about bike racing is that these set-piece tactics rarely work – the sport is (thank gawd, with rare exceptions) full of surprises whether they be crashes, illness, inter-team rivalries, collusion between normally rival teams, etc. As they say, “You can’t make s–t like this up!” 🙂

          • Larry, you’ve once again created a straw man to do battle with. You suggest that cycling social media is full of Keyboard DS’s, which may be true, but what I specifically wrote was “better cycling podcasts”, by which I meant The Cycling Podcast, Lanterne Rouge, and Chris Horner’s Butterfly Effect. (I also used to listen to The Move, but grew weary of the relentless shilling for amazing products.) I’ll leave it to you to expose the people doing those podcasts as the know-nothing frauds who never pinned on a number they must be for having the temerity to give opinions about races that haven’t happened yet as well as sometimes second guess actual professional DS’s.

          • “A straw man fallacy occurs when someone takes another person’s argument or point, distorts it or exaggerates it in some kind of extreme way, and then attacks the extreme distortion, as if that is really the claim the first person is making.”
            I admitted to not reading (or listening to) a lot of this stuff, but what I do see is a lot of “Keyboard DS” stuff from people I’d guess unqualified to hand up bottles, let alone anything else on a pro cycling team. If that fits your definition of “straw man” I’m guilty-as-charged.

        • It’s like going to the zoo and imagining that there might actually be a *reason* the monkeys are throwing their own faeces at each other, even though you know full well that it’s just because they are monkeys and that’s what they do.

      • They’re different – Ethan’s the getting over hills sprinty type, Leo won U23 Liege and clearly destroyed everyone at the Baby Giro on a monster mountain stage but he’s a bit older than the others (but not much) and a bit more experienced (but not much). That said, I don’t think even his ever enthusiastic dad (@Willowman66) expected him to win by five minutes.

        • U23 Liège can suit climbers but it’s not as had as the pro version; think a young Tom Boonen made the podium in Liège when he’d never have done it later on. But after yesterday we can safely say Hayter has a big engine as a climber.

          • Does he share the infuriating habit of hanging at the very back of the peloton while wearing the leaders jersey? Or the seeming allergy to actually riding in the middle of a fast moving peloton? I swear Ethan Hayter is going to end up losing a fair few races because of these things.

      • Larry T, what’s curious is that defining what I referenced to above as “set-piece tactics” pretty much suggests things about your racing experience – rather than anything else. It’s really racing ABC, which Sky lacked quite much back then (have a look to Cummings’ book for good examples of set-piece tactics). Basics you learn from juvenile level on (also protecting the back wheel, for example) and which make so surprising when a supposed top team fails to provide that for a couple of back-to-back seasons, just as when a supposedly two-pronged challenge by an otherwise expert team ends up in an early collapse because of failure to protect the best-performing leader. OTOH, your description of cycling below is quite NASCAR as an uninformed spectator (me) sees that from the outside, but luckily enough, naif as it still is the sport of cycling, a part of know-how always existed and still does. Which makes it more enjoyable when you can appreciate it.

        • Plenty of folks out there like to believe they could do it better than the current crop of DS’..all from the comfort of their couch and with nothing on the line when/if it fails. I’m not one of them so I’ll stop ranting about it.

          • I don’t believe I’d make a great DS, either… besides having better things to do 😛
            Which doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy analysing what happens or might happen as a spectator or commenting about the sport. “Can you write a novel? No? Well, don’t write about novels. Have you ever directed a movie? No? Don’t you dare comment with the people at the pub (which is sort of a cycling blog comments corner) anything about the film you recently saw or what you expect from the next release…”. Those are well-known widely-used non-arguments (since, well, many many centuries), which doesn’t make them any better. In the past I happened to pin a number on my back but I feel nonetheless that many people who never did might have much more insight than I have for whatever reason on a lot of facets of cycling (as I stressed here several times, a couple of them very recently). I myself learnt a lot more when racing was over for good.

          • Social media hasn’t changed people – we’ve always had armchair experts with nothing-to-lose and their coulda/woulda/shoulda’s, but it has allowed them to share their “expertise” with a much wider audience than a bunch of guys drinking in a bar. Some spend a lot of time buffing up their reputations as experts without any proof of any real expertise. No harm done, I’ll just skip these posts rather than complain about them though it does seem INRNG used to have more insightful and interesting commentary than that…but maybe it’s just my imagination?
            OTOH – is Sagan back? I was screaming at the TV yesterday. Total must be really happy their big investment seems to be finally coming good….just-in-time?

          • I think the big change that has taken place is in *how you read* those comments sthat make you want to…wait. I’ll look up a word…vociferate. But since this is just my impression and discussing it leads us nowhere, I’ll leave it at that.
            We do have more interesting things sto discuss – and “Is Sagan back?” is surely one such thing. I’m not sure. I understood that yesterday everyone had kind of agreed to race gently, there were no teams that wanted to make it a hard day for everyone and Sagan must obviously have welcomed it. (He probably wouldn’t have been dropped from, but perhaps he wouldn’t ave had the legs to win?)
            His positioning skills are intact, but that it’s difficult to say this or that about his sprinting ability. But it was certainly a very welcome victory, a healthy and competitive Sagan is the Sagan we all love and want to see!

          • Kristoff has been going pretty well this year and Sagan easily went past him, but you’re correct that it’s hard to draw many conclusions from a single race. My sense is that yesterday’s stage wasn’t ridden especially gently, just that it was more of a normal pace after the first two stages were raced very hard.

            Over in the Dauphiné WvA got a lot of credit for outsprinting a field that was virtually devoid of sprinters. Obviously he climbs well and has speed at the end of a long, hard day, but you could raise similar questions based on his competition.

  8. In answer to the question of Ethan vs Leo. When Ethan was amazing everyone coming up through amateur ranks along with Fred Wright, people would whisper “and he has a brother who’s even better!”
    Time will tell but the Baby Giro performance seems to suggest those whispers from years ago had a solid basis of truth.

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