Normally these race reviews try to pick a defining moment when the race was won but this week saw Jonas Vingegaard dominate the Dauphiné, he was giving sprint lead outs one day, putting time into all his rivals the next in the TT, then taking the yellow jersey the next day and winning a mountain stage for good measure while in yellow.
Still for the sake of tradition let’s pick his win in Salins-les-Bains on Stage 5 where he followed Richard Carapaz up the last climb only for Carapaz to realise he just couldn’t sustain the effort, leaving Vingegaard alone and away for the stage win and yellow jersey. It wasn’t a vintage edition but a review and some thoughts all the same.
Christophe Laporte won the opening stage thanks to team mate Jonas Vingegaard who gave him an impressive lead out and which helped twice over, first putting Laporte into position but crucially with enough speed to so the yellow-clad team could gobble up Rune Herregodts like they were Pacmen. At the time looked like the plucky Intermarché underdog was thwarted, and in a way he was, but a couple of days later in the time trial finished seventh, clearly in form and a powerful rouleur.
Julian Alaphilippe won the next day and if it wasn’t his first win this season – he took the Faun Ardèche race in February – it was a sign of him being back at the top. And also he was silencing his critic, singular.
Christophe Laporte got a second stage win on what was the only pure sprint stage of the week, albeit with 2,000m+. In the end the two big sprinters of the race were relegated, Sam Bennett for sprinting diagonally and Dylan Groenewegen for a shoulder barge on a rival.
Stage 4 was a hilly time trial and Mikkel Bjerg won, finishing 12 seconds ahead of compatriot Jonas Vingegaard. Bjerg was dominant as a TT specialist in the U23 ranks and has become a valuable helper who gets few opportunities so this was a big win. If Vingegaard was beaten it was probably still the ideal result as his GC rivals were scattered to the wind, an impressive Ben O’Connor was closest at 29 seconds with Adam Yates and Jai Hindley not too far back and they’d all be contesting the podium positions come the Alps.
Stage 5 went to Salins les Bains and Jonas Vingegaard did the double, stage win and yellow jersey. Impressive but it was part wardrobe malfunction as Mikkel Bjerg crashed himself at the foot of the opening climb and he might have been able to stay with the leaders and chase to keep his jersey, although that’s very conditional. The other surprise was Richard Carapaz launching a move on the final climb that looked very dangerous, nobody else could follow except Jonas Vingegaard. Carapaz though couldn’t sustain it and so Vingegaard pressed on alone for the stage win and took the yellow jersey. The climb behind Salins to Thésy showed a few more things, Ineos’s best rider was Egan Bernal that day although he’s proving punchy on short climbs, he’s yet to convert this to the long climbs – with Dani Martinez and Carlos Rodriguez losing time. David Gaudu wasn’t happy with his time trial and at his best he’d have done relatively better but here we saw him dropped while neophyte Lenny Martinez wasn’t.
Georg Zimmerman take the first Alpine stage and a win for someone who’s often in the breakaway (including the previous day), it looked like he was going to be mugged by Mathieu Burgaudeau but managed to turn the tables in sight of the finish line. The pair kept Jonathan Castroviejo at bay and this was the first stage win for a smaller team after wins for Jumbo-Visma, Soudal-Quickstep and UAE. Behind Jonas Vingegaard tried an attack but couldn’t shake everyone.
The summit finish at the Col de la Croix de Fer was the big stage of the race and it proceeded in a linear fashion, the breakaway being reeled in once on the Croix-de-Fer and then Vingegaard launching just as the slope began to bite and his team mates had all done their work, a copycat move of Team Sky of old. The photo above tells a thousand words.
The final stage was the best, a pity it can’t be shown live from start to finish but FranceTV are busy this week with the Rolland Garros tournament in Paris, the tennis hogs the schedules, bandwith and resources. A lively start with a nine rider move clear including Julian Alaphilippe and Giulio Ciccone and at the top of the final mountain pass of the day, the Col de
Cucheron Porte, Alaphilippe and Ciccone were just able to stay clear but it was costing Alaphilippe a lot while Ciccone had the energy to go clear and used the descent to add to his lead and was clear for the win atop the Bastille. If the organisers want to make this finish a fixture much like Paris-Nice has a set-piece stage who would object?
There have been vintage editions of the Dauphiné but this wasn’t one of them, even if it had entertainment along the way, from Rune Herregodt’s near win in Chambon-sur-Lac to Vingegaard closing in on Ciccone on the slopes to the Bastille above Grenoble. But these were moments in the race, Vingegaard went into the race as the overwhelming favourite and duly overwhelmed everyone, second placed Yates could only watch while Hindley and O’Connor fought for the third spot of the podium. It was an aggressive but controlled win for Vingegaard, he attacked when he wanted but all the same, he was left solo by Richard Carapaz on Stage 5, and he “only” attacked with 4km to go on the Croix-de-Fer.
Jonas Vingegaard’s ready for the Tour de France and if he hasn’t quite banished memories of being played by Tadej Pogačar in Paris-Nice, he’s much more reassuring now. All week it felt as if he wasn’t just racing the field at the Dauphiné but also Pogačar, at least to watch him clear was to wonder about July. In return if Pogačar was watching he’ll have of course noticed Vingegaard but he’ll be equally satisfied by the performance of his team, Bjerg and Yates as helpers offer the kind of support he’s lacked of late.
Adam Yates finishes second, better than everyone except Vingegaard. Hindley and O’Connor had a good Western Australian battle for third, both will be satisfied with the result. O’Connor is back on the podium after finishing third last year too and his team will love the result as it’s in their home region but he remains a brittle candidate for the Tour’s podium or even a top-5, almost too aggressive at times as his moves expose him to counter-attacks. Hindley might find the time trial his best stage, 13th on the day and limiting his losses on terrain that wouldn’t normally suit.
Ciccone should have been at the Giro of course and now taking a break… and building up to his marriage in 10 days. But the form looks excellent ahead of the Tour de France so presumably his honeymoon’s been postponed for August or the autumn. Carlos Rodriguez was on the up in the race and took the white jersey on the final stage off the impressive Max Poole.
Among others Guillaume Martin is on the up after a season dogged by long Covid or some kind of post-viral fatigue which left him sleeping in every morning, but so tired he needed a siesta in the afternoons, and then going to bed early, now he’s 6th overall after some energetic riding in the mountains. Louis Meintjes ghosted his way to 7th place, but he was 30th in the time trial, he’s where he needs to be ahead of the Tour. Torstein Træen made the top-10 for Uno-X, decent for the invitees who had other results in the week too. Egan Bernal is improving, but slowly and he’s said pre-Dauphiné he doesn’t want to go to the Tour if he’s to suffer, if he’s not 100% he’d prefer more time so he can plan for the Vuelta instead.
The Tour de Suisse has started already and has later finishes, ideal for Americans, less so for Australian and Japanese viewers and Remco Evenepoel is back in action but so are some Tour candidates. In three week’s time we’ll see who’s in yellow after the two hilly Basque stages: Vingegaard, Pogačar or someone else?