Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 5 Preview

A sprint stage or not? Today’s course looks the most sprint friendly… but has plenty to enjoy with the “secret” wall of Dun, a trip to village called Le Guidon (“the handlebar”) before a hilly finish in white wine country near Macon with some climbs, marked and unmarked, that could spoil things for some of the heavyset riders. It’ll be windy in the finish too.

Le Battu d’Urfé: a win for Filippo Ganna but just, he was two seconds quicker than Wout van Aert who must feel frustrated at coming so close only this time there were no mistakes, his ride looked flawless and losing to Ganna was no surprise. Upsets of the day were Brandon McNulty losing over two minutes, partly due to a bungled bike change, and team mate Juan Ayuso finishing tenth, impressive for a teenager on a flat and relatively long course, certainly his longest TT so far. Primož Roglič had a fine ride and is now positioned as the best of the GC riders because as good as Van Aert is, the weekend’s mountains are too much.

The Route: a start in the Beaujolais mountains, an area packed with medium mountain passes and this time via Ranchal to Ecorbans, a steady climb with 1.5km at 7% to the top. Then it’s across to the Loire valley and the nasty Col de Dun 5km at 7% but it starts gently before reaching 15-17% for the top, and all on a narrow backroad. It won’t blow the race apart but it is a nasty “discovery” by the organisers who could, should even, save something like this for another time when they can have a finish nearby.

At KM73 the race goes though the hamlet of “Le Guidon”, more of which below. Then the race goes across the Monts du Maconnais, and wine country, a land of Pouilly-Fuissé wines and home to the village of Chardonnay where the eponymous grape comes from. Here there are three late climbs, the Col du Bois Clair is the longest but easiest on a wide, regular road. Next comes the unmarked climb through Milly-Lamartine, 1.5km and with plenty of 8% as it twists up. Then it’s across towards the Côte de Vergisson (Col de Pierreclos for locals) which takes its name from the giant outcrop of rock above it and 2km of 5% on a small road.

The Finish: there’s a quick and nervous descent through the vines to pick up the main road before a flat and straight finish on the edge of Chaintré.

The Contenders: Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) should like this course, the climbs today will sap anyone faster than him in a straight sprint, ie poor old Dylan Groenewegen. Jumbo-Visma could try to ditch him on the climb to Dun but can hope the final Maconnais climbs in the finish will condemn the Amsterdamer. Likewise Ethan Hayter and Ineos can try for the same. Both teams will want to get a stage win but the Alps are looming, how hard can they ride today?

But it won’t be a formality and with the wind promising to blow things could get lively. Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) still has a chance but he’ll need the peloton to buy into this being an easy stage where the Dun climb is easy and there’s no unmarked surprise climb on the way to the finish but maybe by now he’s got his climbing legs.

Wout van Aert
Ethan Hayter
Stuyven, Groenewegen

Weather: mainly sunny but not hot, just 20°C. The wind could gust which might spice things up further, a NW reaching 40km/h in the vineyards later on. Wine country is touristy but the monoculture means little shelter, just vast exposed terrain.

TV: the starts at 12.45pm and the finish is for around 4.40pm CEST with the last two hours on TV.

Local info: the stage goes through the tiny hamlet of Le Guidon, literally “the handlebar”, a linguistic coincidence for a bike race. But there’s more to it as this is where Bernard Thévenet grew up. He was a choirboy in a village church and one day the priest brought forward the mass so that people could watch the Tour de France go past. A young Bernard went to see the race go by and he was hooked, telling L’Equipe: “The sun was shining on their toe-clips and the chrome on their forks. They were modern-day knights.” Several years on he got a racing bike, entered a local race and won at his first go which would be great, only he’d kept his plans to take part secret from his parents as they wanted him to stay working on their farm. They were shocked to spot his name in the race results in the local newspaper. Bernard got the president of the local club to persuade his reluctant parents so he could attend a second race. The rest is history.

Thévenet ended Eddy Merckx’s wins in the Tour by sacking him in the 1975 Tour on the climb to Pra Loup, although that year was also about Merckx losing. Thévenet proved it was no fluke when he won in 1977 again, as well as taking the Tour de Romandie, the Volta Catalunya, the Dauphiné and more during a solid career. But it wasn’t all so easy, in between the highs were lows where he blew up spectacularly in races and confessed at the time to using cortisone. It wasn’t a banned substance at the time but the abuse messed up his endocrine system. His confession at the time was written up as refreshingly honest even if he threw his team management under the bus, but he stayed loyal to the Peugeot team all this time. In retirement he became a team manager for a while, worked as a TV commentator, lent his name to a clothing brand and became the organiser of the Critérium du Dauphiné. In recent years has been an ambassador for the race to meet and greet sponsors and politicians where his likeable manner and ready smile must work its charms.

34 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 5 Preview”

  1. Thanks for including “The sun was shining on their toe-clips and the chrome on their forks. They were modern-day knights.” in contrast to a world of dull black and (mostly) skin and bones in the peloton. CHAPEAU!

  2. On a point of detail, Hayter apparently lost his visor and had trouble with contact lenses yesterday,
    explaining his oddly slow second split on which Jalabert remarked. Without that he could have been very close to the win.

    Also more examples yesterday of following team cars loaded with spare bikes specifically to give an aerodynamic advantage to riders. Following TV motos will also provide the same benefit – or more – as often hardly 2m behind for considerable distances. UCI might need to regulate these marginal gains.

    • I thought that was more due to his pacing strategy, fairly sure he must have been the fastest rider over the last third of the route.

      • it was mainly wind-related, which was less strong early on when Ganna was on route. Therefor all later starters benefitted in the first and final part (stronger tailwind) but suffered more in the middle, where they went into the opposite direction.

        Jumbo confirmed this after the stage, and said it was a disadvantage for van Aert. Personally I am not sure though, as many of the gc guys finished very high up.

    • On the practice of following team cars stacked with spare bikes to provide an aerodynamic advantage in TTs, the trend of making modern cars more fuel efficient by reducing drag and turbulence is logically counter-productive for a team wanting to aid a rider. The seventies Molteni/Merckx brick-shaped Volvos were surely ideal – though that would not have been counted a gain at the time!

    • Cycling and excuses, lovely topic ^___^. Only, no “oddly slow second split” ever existed, it’s an artifact due to comparison with a single rider (Ganna). If I’m not wrong, Hayter was actually faster in the second split than anyone else around him in the final top-10, barring Ganna. So, if anything, it was an “oddly fast second split”, only it wasn’t that odd given that the third was even faster! I’d say that it was clearly a pacing strategy by the team, also Ganna and Tao started slow, then increased.

      That said, the wind thing was surely an element; Durbridge, the only other term of comparison besides Ganna, was matched by three GC men in the first sector, in Caruso, Ayuso and Vingegaard – then he really built the bulk of his advantage over the three of them in the second sector, while they were progressively being separated also by their different ITT attitudes. Durbo also came closer to Cattaneo (whom, I’d dare to say, had a decently similar pacing strategy) in the second sector, before losing something again in the third. The general performances of Cavagna, Steinle or Heidemann suggest precisely the same

      Only, it’s hard to defend that it was a problem as Jumbo tried to do. Everything suggests that, as noticed by @search above, the wind as it was blowing later on constituted, if anything, a *significant advantage* for the later high-GC starters (for example, the Cavagna – O’Connor comparison is telling, especially if you consider their respective attitude).

  3. With Jumbo on the front, and Ineos / Trek possible helpers also when things get lumpy, it could be not so much Dunroamin’ as Dunsprintin’ for Groenewegen again today.
    Wiz Khalifa y’all 😀

  4. Interesting to see what might happen if it gets blowy at any point. Do JV protect Primoz Roglic / Jonas Vingegard or do they try to help WvA for the win? It might not be mutually exclusive but it does get difficult to pursue multiple objectives. Ineos would have an advantage in winds with Michal Kwiatkowski / Pippo Ganna / Ethan Hayter pushing to split the bunch.

  5. I was a TdF stage start some years ago standing at some barriers. Thévenet leaped out of a car to shake hands with some middle aged women but this was met with bemusement so he had to introduce himself and tell them who he was.

  6. Look forward to another “team attack” (as it was described on CdD website) by B&B Hotels. It seems to be plan B at Bike Exchange – apparently Gerry Ryan will continue paying the bills even as the Bike Exchange company teeters on the abysses edge. Some cross winds and a little more lumpy could make for an interesting day.

  7. I find it incredible that in the last 3-4 years Jumbo-Visma have clearly had the stronger team and riders to Ineos and yet for all their noticeable strength in races where they have three riders on the podium or WVA wins by a mile, they’ve actually only won the Vuelta and MSR & Liege of the big races.

    In that time Ineos have won two Giro’s and a Tour and this year Roubaix.

    It’s hard to say who’s palmares during that time you’d prefer?

    I think Ineos still have a bigger budget so either way this reflects badly on them and Jumbo-Visma should be congratulated for being as strong as Ineos but this has yet to really translate into wins.

    Maybe WVA has been unlucky at times, although I also think he’s regularly overcooked in big races or used poor tactics – and likewise the team has also failed to go for the jugular a few times when the opportunity has arisen.

    Although I guess any team would find it hard when they come up against a rider like Pogacar.

    • Man, it’s not like “they only won the Vuelta”, they won three Vueltas in a row ^__^ Your perspective looks a bit skewed, although I see your point.

      The Pogacar factor you eventually name at the very end plays a big role – Jumbo were twice the TDF runner-up against the same guy, and in both case they had to face peculiar situations (we all remember 2020 and in 2021 they soon lost their leader, yet they came out as “best of the rest” all the same).
      And maybe we should also count in the van der Poel factor, not really because of the single big race WVA was denied by MVDP (Flanders), but rather because of their peculiar relationship which several times affected the race dynamics as a whole. Well, it’s not like WVA can’t come second without Mathieu’s help… 😛 but you saw that happen, and it’s not like something Ineos or most riders have to deal with.

      Then, obviously enough, if you cut the sample of the “big races” to Monuments only, the perspective gets shifted once more, even more so because Classics can be much more random, so they’re harder to evaluate in the short term, especially cutting down the sample.
      Anyway, I think that the balance in serious short stage races GC is a draw as in Roglic vs. all the Ineos guys – but if you broaden the scope in Classics, things change quite much.
      You need to add Strade Bianche, Gent-Wevelgem, Amstel, Omloop and E3 for Jumbo (or, better said, for WVA), plus Emilia (2x), Gran Piemonte, Mi-To, Tre Valli, while you can only add Amstel with Kwiatkwo for Ineos, plus Brabantse Pijl (2x), Gran Piemonte and Waregem.

      Jumbo really’s been double as good in Classics, and as good as Ineos in short stage races, while I’d agree that they’ve achieved less in GTs – although the Vuelta hattrick isn’t that bad, especially if for the TDF you consider what the race was like instead of just counting victories.
      What leaves little room for doubt is that Jumbo has been having a very complicated relationship with the Giro, especially when compared to their potential, quite much reminiscent of the one Sky had in their dire Italian seasons 2013-2017.

      • Agreed. J-V seems to have different objectives vs SKYNEOS. Nothing wrong with that…there’s lots more to cycling than just GT’s, something Sir Dave and Co are late-to-the-party with…but better late than never, especially if your #1 TdF contender is recovering from injury.

        • Very true that Jumbo-Vis have probably improved racing in general and that’s something to be thankful for.

          I think I would just like to see them win one TDF – both Roglic and Dumoulin before everything went wrong really deserve and have the talent to win a Tour and it would be a shame for them and the current Jumbo-Vis team not to win at least one. I have a hunch if Roglic had been on Ineos he’d have won the Giro he contested and likely the 2020 Tour, and if Dumoulin had been he’d have won the Tour Geraint won as he wouldn’t have raced the Giro.

          As for races outside of Grand Tours and Monuments… despite watching most races at some point as a super cycling fan, I think it’s fair to say most sponsors and fans a few years down the line have forgotten who won Gent-Wev or even Tirreno whereas no one who knows anything about cycling forgets a Tour winner and a some beyond that just about remember the other Grand Tours/Monument winners so it’s pretty fair to say these are the only races for most that matter in the long run I reckon! (rofl emoji)

          But we’re at the Dauphine as it’s completely bonkers that WVA could have won all the first four stages and almost did…

          • “I think it’s fair to say most sponsors and fans a few years down the line have forgotten who won Gent-Wev or even Tirreno”.
            Plain false, where does the idea come from?

          • “…both Roglic and Dumoulin before everything went wrong really deserve and have the talent to win a Tour and it would be a shame for them and the current Jumbo-Vis team not to win at least one.”
            It’s not like bolts of lightning have come down from the skies and zapped their chances. Nobody DESERVES to win, the race is supposed to be a test of who is the best rather than most deserving IMHO.

          • I suppose we vcan and we probably do interpret the word “deserve” in different ways. I don’t think oldDAVE meant that since Roglic and Dumoulin are or were at their best such great riders the world somehow owes them at least one Tour victory.
            The point is rather that *if* they had won, they would have deserved – whatever that means – the victory as much the riders who won. They had the necessary qualities, they showed the same strength, boldness, stamina and fortitude etc.
            But, of course, if you choose to view it from the other end…I won’t say telesope…it is always only the rider who did win who deserved the victory. No matter if he was somehow aided just a little bit by fate. luck, circumstances or better team or a more clever and awake DS.

          • “They had the necessary qualities, they showed the same strength, boldness, stamina and fortitude etc.”
            Except they didn’t..otherwise they would have been the victors. I keep banging on that the race’ purpose is to determine who is the best, not who is the most deserving. That’s what sport is supposed to be…otherwise it’s WWE. Put “deserving” in with “moral victor” which might make someone feel good, especially if they’re a fan of that rider, but that’s all.

          • FWIW I reckon oldDave is talking from an alternate universe POV rather than suggesting any kind of “moral winner” or “career award” thing.
            That said, if Roglic was at Ineos… *Nibali* would have very probably won the 2019 Giro (in fact, I suspect that Nibali’s huge and race-losing mistake was thinking that Roglic was in an Ineos team of sort – which Jumbo still wasn’t both in terms of mentality and fitness, given that De Plus was out soon while Kuss and Tolhoek underperformed big time – no other man in the first *40* final GC positions besides Roglic; dunno if *that* 2019-Giro Ineos could have worked – keeping things tight so that Vincenzo would “steal” the victory from Roglic, I mean – but maybe yes, if you imagine Sivakov, Dunbar and Henao, who all had an acceptable Giro, working hard in a mountain support role).
            This is quite similar to a Marvel movie ^__^
            No way Roglic would have won the TDF 2020 at Ineos, unless you’re speaking of their wattage black magic, because otherwise (and probably in black magic terms, too) Jumbo did all that Ineos would have done and perfectly enough, so he’d lose anyway.

            OTOH, yeah, I feel that it’s safe to say that no much factors are required to have Dumoulin winning the 2018 Giro for Ineos… things as they historically were, he came in 2nd less than 2 minutes back to Thomas in final GC after having raced a gruelling Giro finale. No brainer. But I appreciate him hugely more for having tried the double. The TDF is huge, but in this case I suspect that the informad fan’s opinion about Tom Dumoulin or his place in cycling history wouldn’t have changed much adding that single TDF to his palmarés, especially if you imagine that it didn’t come right after racing the Giro (which is the condition we posed above to have him as a very probable “alternate universe” winner).

            Re: Gent-Wevelgem and Tirreno, well, if you look at the last ten years, I’d say that at least 3/10 editions of each race you named above are already written down in cycling’s historical memories, at least if we’re speaking of “cycling fans” and not of “sporting fans who happen to watch cycling’s main events”. Girmay’s victory will, and Paolini’s too, as Sagan’s 2013 one. Other were extremely good, but these were historical, and we’re speaking of 30% which is frankly brutal. They’re not exceptions, since I can cite also 2005 or 2002 without even checking, and several other ones were very very good, too. In Tirreno’s case, I’d say that both Pogacar’s victories could achieve historical value for different reasons, but no doubt can be held about the 2013 an 2014 editions. 2015 and 2016 were also memorable for different reasons, but maybe that’s more for the gourmet. In this case, too, you can go further back and still you’ll find a serious percentage of actually *historical* editions. Moreover, feel assured that, unless they go checking, fans will struggle to remember some editions of the Monuments or the GTs, too.

          • Oh Larry Larry Larry! You are so darn willing, ready and able to quickly read what you want to read in order to make the argument you want to make that you just don’t get what I believe everyone else gets. First you misunderstood completely, then you mansplain. Oh dear oh dear…

            Noticed that little “*if*”? Probably not – but the bit you quoted was. of course supposed to be understood in its light, so to speak. *If* Pogacar had crashed in the ITT and Roglic had won or if Thomas had had one massiely bad day and Dumoulin had won etc. You get it now?

            Which is kind of funny: the strength, boldness, stamina and fortitude etc Roglic or Dumoulin showed would, of course, not have changed one iota, but by some miracle they were not sufficient when those strikes of fate (or whatever) didn’t actually happen – but would have been sufficient if they had 🙂

          • You are correct, I don’t get it. Comes across IMHO as a lot of woulda/coulda/shoulda from a fan of a rider who failed to win but somehow is the “moral victor” in the mind of his fanboy and therefore somehow equal to the racer who actually WON the race.
            I suppose we should just leave it there rather than keep talking past each other?

  8. Very happy memories of taking a rider to a regional race start in Uchizy, the neighbouring village to Chardonnay. The course was a c20km lap, with the HQ, race parking and the line at the coopérative des vins. Sadly I was driving that day, but you can be sure there were a few supporters who became a bit rowdy as each lap passed by. The local crémant was going down very well. This is how to get more people into bike racing!!

  9. Stages full of litterature between yesterday’s castle of Honoré d’Urfé, author of L’Astrée which was an european bestseller in the XVIIth century, and today’s Milly-Lamartine…

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