Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 3 Preview

The first ski station summit finish of the Dauphiné… but hold on, it’s not a big climb and more a hut, car park with a chairlift as a ski station. So imagine an uphill bunch sprint although the breakaway has a good chance.

Déjà vu? a repeat episode of Stage 1 with an early break up the road, then Dylan Groenewegen and other sprinters being dropped on the climb as Trek-Segsafredo, Ineos and Jumbo-Visma upped the pace. The breakaway of six riders never got more much more than four minutes and the gap was coming down nice and steadily, down to two minutes, a minute thirty and so on, it all pointed to a sprint between van Aert and Hayter once again.

Over the last climb the break, reduced to five, had 30 seconds and then suddenly the gap grew, just by a few seconds but the peloton behind was spread across the road, hesitant and having a breather after hitting the last climb so hard. Up ahead the leaders kept working and suddenly the gap couldn’t be closed.

The five breakaway riders didn’t play games until the flamme rouge. Olivier Le Gac made a late attack and looked to have a good chance but Alexis Vuillermoz had watched Sunday’s Brussels Classic win by Taco van der Hoorn and had the 400m+ seated sprint by the “Wanty guy” in mind as he chased, pulled back Le Gac and held off Anders Skaarseth. It was a big win for Vuillermoz, not comparable with his Tour de France stage but almost as good and it comes after a series of broken bones. It’s also a win for TotalEnergies, the team take another World Tour win after Paris-Nice… while Peter Sagan is due to return to racing in the Tour de Suisse where his performance will determine if he goes to the Tour de France, or not.

The Route: 164km across Romain Bardet’s training roads and and 2,700m of vertical gain, 300m fewer than yesterday but not easier. There’s a gradual uphill start that gets steeper through the town of Allègre around 8km into the stage and from then on it’s across lumpy rural roads all day.

The Finish: longer and a bit more variety than the profile shows, there are some steeper sections and also some flat and even downhill bits. It’s all on a big wide road and levels out into the ski area before a final little rise up.

The Contenders: Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) again? Ethan Hayter (Ineos)? Both riders have a similar ranges of abilities, they can win reduced bunch sprints and uphill finishes alike, and their teams have a shared interest in setting up a rematch, Primož Roglič is handy too especially if the final climb is ridden very hard. Bahrain are another big team with an interest in a finish here because Dylan Teuns has won several finishes like this. Staying with the big teams, UAE’s Juan Ayuso should be worth watching as well… while on a smaller team there’s Tobias Halland Johannessen (Uno-X) but how to beat the names cited ahead of him?

The breakaway’s got a good chance of making it again but they’ll need to take a good lead into the final climb to hold off the big teams. Rémi Cavagna (Quick-Step) is the local but he’ll surely be sitting tight waiting for tomorrow’s TT; instead Pierre Rolland (B&B) sort of a local as he has a holiday house in the area. But it’ll take strong riders not interested in the GC nor the time trial, think Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ), Patrick Konrad (Bora-hansgrohe), Samuele Battistella (Astana) or Andrea Bagioli (Quick-Step) but take your pick from the list of similar riders.

Wout van Aert, Ethan Hayter, Dylan Teuns
Ayuso, Bagioli, Konrad, THJ, Roglič

Weather: sunshine and clouds, 22°C tops at the lower altitudes but cooler at altitude.

TV: the stage starts at 12.20 and the finish is for 4.40pm CEST with coverage starting soon after 3.00pm.

Guide touristique: the Puy de Sancy (photo from Wikipedia by Clément Beckert) sits above the finish and is the highest point of the Massif Central mountains at 1,885m. Puy is a local word for a volcanic peak as today’s finish is amid volcanoes, albeit so extinct that they look more Alpine because the old cones have been worn away by glaciers… unlike the Puy de Dôme just to the north. Today’s finish is a new one but the Tour de France has visited the Super Besse ski resort several times and that’s just the other side of the mountain from today’s finish.

35 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 3 Preview”

    • Ineos (or at least Hayter, who was quickly interviewed immediately post-race, blamed Jumbo-Visma for the error).
      Otherwise would it have been too much to speculate that J-V riders could have won every stage in this race?

      • Every team is going to gamble a bit and cooperate, but not fully, so they all can pointlessly blame eachother. It’s bike racing: There’s no law that a certain team should take full responsibilty, leaving them vulnerable in the final. Offcourse Ineos would like them too: Wout might seem unbeatable, but that’s not a given. If he’s out of position by a millimeter, boxed in, or without teammates to pull back a late escape, anything is possible with guys like Stuyven an the Ganna/Hayter combo around.

        • He has a point, though. EF, Ineos and Trek all worked hard to bring back the break. On the few occasions JVT went to the front they actually slowed the peloton down. They actually only worked for the last 5km when they spent most of the time complaining about others not helping.

          • It looked to me like Ineos got annoyed at JV not committing enough riders throughout the day, then sat out contributing at the critical time of the chase. Silly, negative tactics from both teams.

            It’s also an interesting rehearsal for the Tour, with JV balancing protecting two GC riders, while supporting Wout for the sprint. JV weren’t in a position to commit much more firepower yesterday, even if they’d wanted to.

          • (@Brian, too)
            A Dauphiné sprint stage win, especially if you already got one, is worth *way less* than putting psychological and strategic pressure on rivals, both for this race and with an eye to the TDF.

      • Laughable. Wout’s already got his stage and although he might be thinking about *some* green jersey, indeed, in that sense here they’d better have a reharsal about sitting tight, as they in fact did. Jumbo needs to fight for stage wins way less than Ineos, now, for a broad series of reasons in addition of the above, so it’s up to the rest to get what they strive for.

  1. Am I the only one who noticed THREE USA riders in the top 10 list of white jersey contenders? And am I the only one who thinks ASO devalues the TdF’s Maillot Jaune when they pretty much duplicate the whole thing at the lower level events they own/produce? Every race leader’s jersey in Italy isn’t PINK so…

    • (1) Probably not. There are plenty of readers from the U.S. here 🙂
      I hadn’t, but I did note that it’s Kevin Vermaerke in the white jersey. On the other hand, there are still 26 riders in this competition with (practically, that is omitting the bonus seconds) the same time.

      (2) Probably not. There must be some readers who also think that the race leader jerseys in the three GTs shouldn’t be used in any other races.
      I hadn’t even thought about it and if I think about it, the yellow jersey in the TdF is still special, its value doesn’t suffer if it’s used also in the CdD and other stage races run by ASO. But I can see that someone else views things differently and the argument that it diminishes the myth of Maillot jaune when you see it in some other race.

      I wouldn’t be able to tell the colour of the race leader jerseys in any of the many smaller stage races. I think I would’ve guessed yellow in the CdD, but that’s all…

      • I see your point. I’m not sure it devalues THE yellow jersey but it’s certainly unimaginative by other races. I personally like the leader’s jerseys from vuelta a Burgos and Volta a Catalunya. Both are more specific to the region as opposed to just safe old yellow!

      • Agreed, but it’s still uncommon to see a list with that many Yankees on it, unless it’s a list of dope-cheats 🙂 Could the USA be in for a rebirth post-Tex? McNulty, Kuss and these new guys might be a wave unless they all get tempted by the USA’s current gravel mania…IMHO the equivalent of the PGA Senior Tour..easy money for guys past their sell-by-date. How long before Chris Froome is there?

        • One wonders what colo(u)r jersey will be handed out at the first eBike gravel championship and who would win it?!
          -It’s okay, this is just futurecasting whimsy. There could never be an eBike Gravel Worlds…could there…? Please No.

        • They might as well be taking performance-enhancing substances, more or less legally, yet that wouldn’t change much about the mere fact of the likes of McNulty, Sheffield and Simmons having impressive talent (not that the rest aren’t good, of course, there’s just a little more still to be proven).

    • I think the options of young and talented USA WT riders are worth to be observed, although as you also notice below there’s a lot of ways to get them wasted, too, partly as in any other country, and partly because of some specific aspects of the USA movement.

      I suspect that for good or ill Kuss might be now a known quantity, apparently he’s very fine with the mountain gregario path and some stage win here and there. Otherwise this Giro would have been an opportunity not to be missed at any cost. McNulty is a different story, he’s got a couple of seasons more to set his future role in the peloton and this year he already started with a significant jump upward. I’m afraid his set of skills won’t give him an easy time because of some trends in contemporary cycling (shorter ITTs, sometimes even less technical than 7-8 years ago; shorter stages); yet OTOH other new facets of cycling go his way, instead (breaks look to be getting more success, even individual ones). Same for Powless but on a lower level, of course. He’s been showing glimpse of a serious potential to be a solid contender, although maybe not a first-line one, in hilly one-day races and hard stages. He looks to be growing right now when he should, but it will be the next couple of seasons which will determine the role he’s going to play. It seems he lacks continuity, anyway.

      Speaking of youngsters who are even much more promising than all the above, impressive to say the least, I’d surely add Sheffield to the list, even if he’s not racing here. And USA’s Moscon (not so, I hope) in Quinn Simmons, so versatile on the bike but not that versed in politics.

      I’m very curious about Jorgenson because his path is not very conventional for an USA rider, he apparently chose less pressure, an environment less result-oriented and perhaps more supportive from a personal POV (like “a family” of sort for good or ill – quite ill when it doesn’t work, surely), closer to European traditional cycling. At the same time, the latter may imply that, as in traditional cycling, you might find yourself quite alone if you don’t fit in the personal relationships, and quite much left on your own from a technical and performance POV. Less risk of burnout, more risk of finding yourself a bit lost. This season began well and the decision apparently paid dividends, let’s see how things do develop.

      Quite the contrary for Vermaerke and Sean Quinn. Both come from Axeon which albeit famous for their good work always gives me the impression that as an environment they’ŕe more effective with the athletes which are not from the USA, although the latter are the vast majority of their picks. USA athletes they grow often arrive at the pro ranks with a little too much of a hype, and maybe a bit “too ready”, which can make them consistent and more than decent pro athletes at the end of the day, but also a little “spent”, lacking margin for some further grow (King, Dombrowski, Craddock, Owen…).

      Of course, as always when speaking of huge talent and at an early age, luck plays a huge part in the final picture – had had Phinney more luck and Adrien Costa a little less absurd “bad luck”, so to say, the Axeon USA balance would perhaps look different now. Yet, I’ve got a feeling that even those huge accidents happened when the athletes were already asking themselves questions of sort about their pro cycling perspectives (not implying, for God’s sake, any kind of metaphysical relation between that and the accidents).

    • I think those bar-graph profiles are based solely on the rider’s PCS points, and Vermaerke as scored very few points so far, so you would expect it to be skewed until he has more of a history and a few more high placings.

  2. Bike Exchange did not look like a happy bunch at the sign in today (Grmay in particular). Another day for them draging Groenewegen to the finish. Always good when the breaks makes it for a win – JV seemed to mess it up. Is Rolland all worn out after his efforts on stage 1? Can not see the break making it today as JV & Roglic look tailor made for this finish.

    • Probably extinct at least since the last glacial period.

      As inrng mentions, even Alpine glaciers are rather endangered species – at least until we manage to reverse the Gulf stream…

      Then, perhaps, even Massif Central would be graced by serracs and crevasses again. And instead of cobbles, we would enjoy some fatbike stages…

  3. There’s also ye good ol’ “somebody who’s not a big name goes from the selected group a little before the very finale and they fail to cooperate to close him down”, but I’m afraid it’s wishful thinking, all the world is still fresh, so there will be gregari up there to be spent and Jumbo this time will make their train work for an uphill sprint. Maybe they try and play a double (or triple) card, as in launching Vingegaard on the hard part and then sitting on the wheels of whomever tries to close the gap only to smoke ’em at the finish. And, of course, with this field they can even make it Pa-Ni all over again, that was fun. The only doubt is that here *they’d better* not be in top shape, whereas that wasn’t a problem in March.

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