The first real Alpine mountain stage of the Dauphiné and it packs plenty in just 134km. The summit finish at the end looks small but after all that comes before it’s enough to open some useful gaps.
Gapped in Gap: the breakaway made it. Andrea Bagioli was being marked by all the other five escapees as the fastest in the sprint. So when Valentin Ferron attacked inside the final kilometre, he was able to get a gap. Bagioli chased but didn’t want to do it all by himself, nobody else wanted to lead out Bagioli and so Ferron won the day. The bunch wasn’t far behind, Jumbo-Visma had worked to keep the break in range to protect Van Aert’s yellow jersey and maybe Dylan Groenewegen will be nursing regrets that the day he wasn’t dropped he couldn’t sprint for the win.
The Route: just 135km but 3,800m of vertical gain, a lot. This is a dress rehearsal for Stage 12 of the Tour de France as it’s identical until 7km to go (in July the ride on to tackle Alpe d’Huez. It’s up the Col du Lautaret and then onto the Galibier and while the profile says it’s 5.1%, that’s because it’s 2-5% for a long way until the Lautaret. Once above 2,000m altitude comes the 8% sections leading to the Galibier. Then comes the fast descent into Valloire, remember to turn the legs so they’re ready for the small climb to the Col du Télégraphe and then the descent to the Maurienne valley where there’s 10km on the valley floor.
The Croix de Fer is a giant climb, 29km in total and it goes up in sections as the profile shows with some uncharacteristically steep sections early for a French ski station road. The descent is similar too as there are two uphill moments on the way down. There’s almost no flat section at bottom, a left turn leads into the final climb.
The Finish: the ski station summit finish of 6.4km at 6.5% sounds reasonable but it’s got a steady gradient of 8-10% for most of the way and then a flatter section as they approach the village of Vaujany. The early steep part is hard work, it twists with a few hairpins and if the road is wide it’s irregular with a constantly changing gradient, this might be a ski station road but it feels like an old path rather than a route engineered to take buses and trucks up to the top. The road flattens out as they enter the village but then there’s a hairpin bend and it rises at 7% for the final 300 metres.
The Contenders: Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) can do many things but his speciality is climbs just like the one at the finish today. Jonas Vingegaard is a second card to play too.
David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) has a stage win already and can win from a sprint, his best chance for the stage win is not to go big from too far out because he’s two minutes down on GC, Jumbo-Visma can let him jump away in the final kilometre but not much further away. Likewise for Dylan Teuns (Bahrain). Ben O’Connor (Ag2r Citroën) is an agressive rider but won’t get much room but increasingly he’s very strong. As a pure climber, Esteban Chaves (EF Education) can win on a day like this and they don’t have to close him down if he moves late. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos) can finish well too.
The breakaway’s got a chance as well but so far not enough riders are way down on GC. Someone like George Bennett is probably out of the GC contest being 30th at 3m47s but too close to the lead to be given much room. Michael Storer (Groupama-FDJ) fits the bill but seems short of form right now, likewise Antwan Tolhoek (Trek-Segafredo). Victor Lafay (Cofidis) was in the break yesterday and is tomorrow’s local so he might sit tight today, ditto Geoffroy Bouchard (Ag2r Citroën).
|Jonas Vingegaard, David Gaudu|
|TGH, Chaves, Schultz, Teuns, Bouchard|
Weather: warm and sunny, 28°C in the valleys.
TV: the stage starts at 12:55pm and the finish is due at 4.55pm CEST. Tune in for the last two hours to get the Croix de Fer climb, the descent and then the Vaujany summit finish.
Local info: Vaujany’s a ski village just around the corner from Bourg d’Oisans and Alpe d’Huez. The Tour de France has never been but the Dauphiné visits for the fourth time today. The last time we saw Chris Froome and Ritchie Porte battling for the stage win, Froome now taking on Porte as a rival as the Australian had moved to BMC… rivals but they also united to drop Alberto Contador.
Paris-Nice has hosted a finish in March. Now a visit into the Alps in March sounds like asking for trouble but paradoxically despite the often abundant snow many roads are kept open precisely so that tourists get to their hotels and the ski lifts. As long as Paris-Nice approaches from the valley below that Vaujany can host a summit finish; today’s route would be impossible. The race that’s visited the most though is the Grande Boucle féminine, the almost forgotten women’s equivalent of the Tour de France that ran between 1992 and 2009 but without the Tour’s name and all the organisation behind it, it faded away.
Sabotage: If you want to visit you can tackle the climb to Vaujany and then push on to the Col du Sabot to go beyond 2,100m.
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Is this stage beyond Catteneo?
Yes, it is.
If I were a betting man (and if I had a small sum of hard earned money left), I’d back Jonas Vingegaard (who, I believe, is here to win a stage) and another Scandinavian, Tobias Johannessen.
I also have a soft spot for Kenny Elissonde, but although I would be happy for him to finish in the Top 10, I would rather bet on it with someone else’s money.
Interesting that you say Vingegaard for a stage.
If this were Sky / Ineos they have a clearly delineated hierarchy for the Tour and it’s all in for that leader.
For Vingegaard to win today or tomorrow, means Roglic having a bad time (which would be a disaster, so close to July) or Roglic, feeling a million dollars, and gifting a stage to his teammate.
There’s the matter of bonus seconds of course, so I don’t think that Roglic can risk it today. Maybe tomorrow if the race win were safe.
But, over and above that, Roglic has to go into the Tour at 100% and fully confident, to think about taking Pogacar on.
Roglic seems to give Pogacar a swerve these days, outside of a Grand Tour, so the psychological advantage probably lies with the younger Slovenian.
It feels like a statement pair of wins this weekend is required of Roglic?
Not impossible but while he’s going well, how to beat the others. He’s a diesel and I thought about him for the TT stage as well but didn’t pick him as it was hard to see him winning. He can place but rarely wins and the likes of Roglič and Gaudu should normally prove much faster in the finish… having typed this he’ll win today 😉
So did “Loco” Molano win the 300 euros “Combativity Award” or “most aggressive rider” as the rules book says? Sorry, old pun. Hart said he’s not in top shape so it’ll be interesting to see what Ineos do. Mas, Kelderman, Haig, Caruso, McNulty, Meintjes, why not the return of Padun? Lots of second choices behind the JV hot picks. Like the Giro, we might fight out today about “the knee problem”.
Reading about the Molano’s DSQ I have replayed the stage on Eurosport to see what happened 10 kms from the finish. (I have seen winner’s attack on before on twitter, hats off!) It was not obvious and easily seen, it took just a few seconds – I wonder how the officials have spotted that if nobody involved reported that (green jersey reportedly did not). Have they seen that live in peloton, did they spot in on footage, live on TV – have somebody here notice that immediately?
Jalabert picked it up live on French television.
His team must be twice upset; for the initial act and then for Molano stupidly persisting with his verbal attacks even after his team had issued the routine “sincere” apology.
It did n’t help the altercation after the stage being caught on video.
Yeah, it makes sense – somebody spotted it and once it was discussed live on TV, the djinn was out of the bottle. Thank you!
French TV production played it in slo-mo during the live show. Jalabert said Molano “wouldn’t see the mountains”
Am I missing something (well, I certainly will be if this is right) – in the UK, not being shown live on either Eurosport 1 or 2 (stages in the week have been)? Cannot believe having to just watch highlights show for these two epic stages. If anyone knows any different, please let me know.
It is live on Eurosport player & GCN (switched to GCN as it is a good bit cheaper as I only watch the cycling). I guess that it may not be live on the two Eurosport channels on Sky as there will be other sporting events which clash.
Eurosport is wrapped up into a package with various other channels on Sky, so I stopped subscribing to GCN as found the app was really unreliable for casting to the TV.
I’ve just spotted the same thing. Not good.
First off, as many comment, thanks Inner Ring for the blog. Your writing is always superb and the insights you have often seem spot on and add a lot to my enjoyment of watching the races on the TV. I particularly enjoy your neo pros pieces.
Glad you mentioned Antwan Tolhoek, I have a soft spot for him since the 2018 Tour where he was pulling on the front so much for Jumbo. He was like a tiny version of Tony Martin. Watching him charge along the cobbles with the poor rider in second wheel trying to get some shelter from the wind behind him brought a massive smile to my face. Seems unlikely he will win today but I would love to see a good placing for him.
Not sure if the schedules are the same across the continent but have any other UK viewers noticed that Eurosport – “the home of cycling” – isn’t covering today’s stage live?! Two channels and my TV planner says they’ve got motorsport on both. Only highlights later. Rubbish.
I don’t follow motorsport so no idea how popular Le Mans qualifying is but Eurosport should drop their “home of cycling” tagline.
PS – thanks for the link JC.
Can’t help noticing there have been a few plugs in commentary for an ad-free subscription package by another brand of Discovery called GCN.
Turns out that instead of paying subscription to other media owners, they would prefer to have your money direct.
Something to do with sports fans wanting to watch the whole thing live, and really not wanting to watch sports other than the one they follow.
Eurosport Player works great for us – no commercials and we like Luca Gregorio and Riccardo Magrini’s take on things. Know nothing about the English commentators as I’d rather have ambient sound than any of them that I’ve heard over the years on various coverage.
@Larry T, I hear you about some of the English language commentary and ambient sound (mute button works too), but I must say the English commentary on GCN during the Giro wasn’t all that bad with Rob Hatch and Sean Kelly being the primaries, along with filler from Robbie McEwan, Dan Lloyd, and Adam Blythe.
[Comment from somewhere in California, USA where other English commentators should realize they’ve aged-out.]
I was impressed by mcewans contributions.
Friends over in the “colonies” had mixed reviews on the people you mentioned. Sean Kelly obviously knows what he’s talking about but to me his skills are riding the bike and reading the race more than being good at sharing his thoughts on TV. Wasn’t he famously the guy who nodded YES to a radio interviewer back-in-the-day? OTOH, Stephen Roche I thought was fantastic back-in-the-day though one had to suffer through Duffers blathering on…and on…and on…Roche told us once he had a very hard time getting a word-in with ol’ David.
I’m a big fan of endurance racing, but there’s no way I would ever watch Le Mans on Eurosport (if Eurosport was even available in Australia, the last network to carry it concluded that it was a waste of bandwidth) when their broadcast is so rubbish compared to the live streaming from the World Endurance Championship organisers.
As well as not having any chance of hearing Carlton Kirby (yes, he unfortunately does Motorsport too) the WEC coverage has selectable onboard camera feeds for 15 different cars.
Today & tomorrow we shall find out whether Primoz Roglic really has recovered or whether his various hints about “not being in top form” are just media stuff. Understand about the concept of trying be at your best in the third week of the tour in 5 or 6 weeks time but the evidence from the Sky years was very much winning at the Dauphine was the precursor to success at the Tour. Primoz Roglic certainly seems to be in pole position for the GC here though if he is not feeling quite right then it will be interesting to see if JV let Jonas Vingegaard go for the win.
I’m interested to see how Gaudu does too. When a GC rider is sprinting well, it’s often a sign of really good form. Maybe it’s his breakthrough year (not saying he’ll topple Roglic but at least put him under some pressure).
Totally agree – if Gaudu is going well it could be a special year for FDJ following their succcess at the Giro?
I’d be over the moon if Gaudu and Pinot formed a good partnership at the Tour, give something for the French to cheer about – although the final TT will likely undo either so Top10 is more realistic than podium I fear.
The other rider I’m interested in is Michael Storer? He looked exceptional at last years Vuelta and decent at the Tour of the Alps – but now seems to be struggling here after the Romandie abandon? Either way between him, Gaudu and Pinot FDJ could have a quietly strong team this year at the TDF?
Also – is it too early to say that Australia might have an impressive generation of talent coming through:
Ben O Connor
They’ve got to be in with a strong chance on the next hilly worlds course.
I guess it’s a shame for them the course in Wollongong likely isn’t uphill enough for them – even if Ewan, Dennis and Matthews might have a chance.
Gaudu came 11th last year, so with the lack of TT miles I think he might even be capable of pushing for the podium this year. I really like O’Connor too, be good to see him in the hunt for stages. Think it’s a big ask for him to repeat last year’s GC position though.
These are the kids who were in their early teen years when Cadel Evans reached the top of the sport.
Better said, evidence from Team Sky or US Postal because none of the admittedly few TDF winners from other teams in very recent years chose to perform greatly at the Dauphiné (3/10 editions), although Pogacar didn’t race it in 2021 (but he was 4th in 2020, as Nibali was 7th in 2021). So it’s not about “modernity”, it’s about some very specific teams. Contador used to do the same for the 3 Tours he won “on the road”, slightly underperforming at the Dauphiné as he approached the TDF: 6th in 2007, 3rd in 2009 and 2nd as the most notable result in 2010… but behind Brajkovic (and the rest of the competition was quite much low profile, just check that top-10). Evans was in slightly better form in 2011 still he *lost* to a not-yet-that-formidable Wiggo, more or less on the same time as Vino. Sastre was surely a peculiar case, but still in 2008 he was 20th at the Dauphiné, decent nut not his best.
This is only half true Gabriele?
I think you’re anti-Sky/Ineos + recent cycling history bias is clouding your take here:
If the argument is who wins the Dauphine wins the Tour that’s a bit silly given crashes and bad luck in the Tour, plus that TDF contenders can just got to the Tour De Swiss/Slovenia instead… but if you widen it slightly to ask – do riders now race to win TDF warm up events unlike previous generations – so include Swiss/Slovenia in the warm up races preTour you can see that the pattern beyond just Sky/Ineos is that most riders are looking to contend at these races, so times have clearly changed post Contador/Armstrong where they chilled slightly in warm up races to modern times – ie –
2021 – Pog won Slovenia (note Carapaz won Swiss and finished 3rd at TDF)
2020 – Rog raced to win Dauph till crash (note Pog still finished a respectable 3rd & 1stTDF)
2019 – Bernal won Swiss
2018 – Geraint won Dauphine (note Rog also won Swiss and 4th at TDF)
2017 – anomaly year
2016 – Froome won Dauphine (note Bardet was 2nd and 2nd at TDF)
2015 – Froome won Dauphine
so yes Sky/Ineos started the trend but L-J and Pogacar have continued it – plus riders like Bardet, Porte and Uran have all competed hard at warm ups and then raced for the win/podium at the TDF.
Even Contador in the year you note Nibali won the TDF, raced Froome hard at the Dauphine signalling his tactics to go soft before the Tour had changed by 2014.
So really aside from Nibali there’s not one rider who’s won the TDF who’s chilled at the warmups, and even most riders who’ve podiumed have also raced hard at the warm ups before good results at the TDF. 2017 is really the only anomaly outside of Nibali for different reasons.
I think there’s little evidence to say it’s just a Sky/Ineos thing now and really the truth is that they started something others have copied.
Yeah… ehm, have you watched those races? (I’ll maybe expand on this later)
To start with, it’s almost never about having a terrible performance. Even Sastre’s 20th place wasn’t his best performance but wasn’t bad at all against his general benchmark, either.
There are two relevant but separate aspects here: first, your level of form compared to your potential top in that moment of a given season (you can easily assume that barring accidents you’ll have a term of comparison at the TFD), which generally depends on how you prepared for the race, and for your whole calendar; second, how deep you’re going or your rivals force you to go.
And it’s all about being in the right place with your level of form, which is clearly not “on the top”. Apparently, it’s also good to test yourself with a couple of stage where you push a little, and which can hence provide a good result, but not going several times into the red through the whole race as it would probably happen when you’re being forced on the limit by competitive rivals.
If you watch the race, you’ll easily notice that the otherwise “interesting” 2nd place by Contador in 2010 was actually the result of a sub-par performance, considering the rider’s level and his rivals (barring perhaps Van den Broeck, who actually had chosen a similar approach and performed correspondingly well at the TDF, relative to his general potential, of course). A potentially stronger Contador in 2009 finished behind Valverde and Evans, of course.
Same for 2014, but precisely as an example of the contrary. Hard to say if Contador’s form was too early already at the Dauphiné with the (failed) intention of putting pressure on Froome, or if he was appropriately back in terms of form but decided to push harder out of competitive spirit. What’s sure is that he didn’t look brilliant as you’d expect during those first TDF’s stages. On La Mauselaine, very favourable to his qualities, he couldn’t drop Nibali, but what’s revealing is the lack of serious differences on several other contenders; and when he crashed, it was because he felt the pressure on climbs well before the finale. Not that it depended on age or whatever else, as we’d see at the Vuelta. It looked like a sub-optimal prep, really.
Armstrong’s two victories are also very interesting if one remembers them in detail.
That said, citing Pogacar at his home race makes little sense, how can you say if he’s racing hard or if he’s in top form? If anything, you’d say he isn’t, if you check the rivals and the time difference, then compare that with the rest of races. Same for 2020, it’s absurd that you cite that because it really proves my point… Pogacar (you know, that Pogacar guy) arrived behind the likes of Guillaume Martin, Dani Martínez and Pinot pretty much through all the race, occasionally also behind Superman López or Buchmann.
Finally, fun fact, besides your “anomaly year” and Pogi, which goes against your argument, you only name… Sky/Ineos riders (Carapaz, Bernal obviously are). Eh?!
Your idea that random effects weigh too much would only make sense in theory, not if you really watched the races – like the fact that Roglic actually left because he didn’t care much about Dauphiné and decided to go safe and priorise TDF not because the injury was really preventing him from racing. And we’ll never really know how would he perform into that last stage. But the main point against this idea is that we’ve got a sample of decades with tens of races. After 1980 it has become an extremely rare feat, unless you’re racing for Ineos. Not that it ever was easy. I think that it happened some 8 times in history before Lance in half a century (comparable to the Giro-Tour double…), then it happened like 7 times in 20 years, only exclusive courtesy of Lance and the Skineos gang.
You don’t need to imply anything, but from a merely statistical POV the correlation looks strong to the “team” variable, and you can also leave Armstrong aside if you please – not to infer too much, I mean – rather than being because of any modernity of sort, with the sheer quantity of recent counter-examples we have. Pogacar included, while I’d wait this year to say something about Roglic. I’ll easily concede that he may pertain to that “strong prep” school (or not, it’s to be seen).