The Moment The Critérium du Dauphiné Was Won

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?

The Verdict
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?

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

  1. Not by any means a classic, but hats off to Vingegaard. You can only beat what’s in front of you, and he was flawless against second tier opposition here.

    One week stage races not really doing it for me this year. By my reckoning, only Catalunya has offered anything of a GC battle.

    • Well, Catalunya was frankly very good. Pa-Ni was also entertaining, but, yes, we’ve had better seasons.

      Part of the problem is that unlike Classics (where the divide is also brutal, but a little less so), when stage racing is concerned we’re more or left with second-tiers only, once the top two guys are away. Possible exceptions are Evenepoel, yet to be fully tested in GTs, and an aging Roglic.
      But then you see a struggling Roglic winning both Ti-Ad – and later Catalunya without even being in top shape.
      I was already “worried”, so to say, about the foreseeable perspective when Bernal was still on the top of his game, imagine now.
      The rest is just not up there, for a broad range of different reasons. Most of them never actually were and are by now well-known forces. And I don’t mean “not up there with Pogacar”, I mean that they actually needed the former generation to retire in order to become competitive. You more or less (more or less, of course) know what can be expected by the Yates, Mas, Landa… Meintjes (!).

      But it’s just a *cyclic* thing, I guess.

      • The problem is that we have rarely two and never more of these 4 contenders… Pa-Ni still proves that having two is not a guarantee of intense duel (too soon in the year for Vingegaard ?)
        Vinge and Roglic are on the same team, which makes things almost impossible for them to fight against each other in a 1-week race ; Pogacar only does P-N or Tirreno, and Remco… Well, if next year he’s doing the Tour maybe he will race some more 1-week race. But calendar choices (and misfortunes, in the case of the ever-delayed dual Pogacar/Remco) really makes this season frustrating. Let’s hope we have a proper revanche in July !

  2. A decisive and almost unopposed win by the pre race favorite.
    I would question the design of some of the parcour, with too many 100 kilometer flat sections at the start of end of stages. The absence of some of the non WT teams removed some potential ‘up the road activity and escapes’.
    One also has to wonder if the WT format and its emphasis on points to stay in the elite is not making racing this year a little dull.
    Good to see Bernal showing glimpses of his previous form after all his trials and tribulations.

  3. You’re seriously suggesting that one stage win in an uphill sprint in this race is not only a sign of Alaphillippe being back at the top but an effective silencing of any criticism from Patrick Lefevere. Wow. You’re Marion Rousse irl, right?

      • Plus there’s been no criticism from Lefevere since. Is Alaphilippe back to his very best and set to take yellow in Bilbao? No, but he’s on the right track. As said here before he turned 31 during the race and must be losing a bit of his explosive style but he had a good week, the stage win but other days too.

    • DSM are getting new sponsorship money so they might be keen to give him a long deal, like they’ve done with Onley although it means they’ve already got one Brit on a big deal, it seems they’re keen on a big Dutch name and currently shopping for Jakobsen or Kooij.

  4. Thanks for the review – Vingegaard and Jumbo did what had to be done – even though they lost Kruijswijk to a crash. Yates and UAE did about what was expected fom them.
    The trio of Landa, Mas and Gaudu were a disappointment. All three under performed and look pushed to get top 5 at the Tour.
    No Covid positives during the race which will have made the organizers happy.

  5. Ineos still apparently the biggest budget but also rans here. Will they be satisfied with having – for the first time – no real TdF GC candidate, and are they reduced to being stage hunters and a solid second division team? It’s not much for Ratcliffe’s millions.

    • For all Ineos’ megabucks they obviously lack something in scouting as the emergence of Pogacar, Vingegaard and Evenepoel seems to have completely passed them by. They maybe got a little preoccupied rummaging through high altitude villages in Colombia.

      • Unlucky with Bernal, where would he be today without that crash? They were close with Evenepoel, he had an offer from them (and might be getting one soon again, maybe Lefevere could go in to the Tour / or win it with Evenepoel once and with his rider’s value sky high, sell up) and they’ve done the scouting thing with the likes of Carlos Rodriguez and Tom Pidcock but perhaps because they have a lot of funds they prefer to bid for riders, eg Arensman and Martinez, rather than try a development squad.

          • Yes, I know cyclists crash frequently but having both your best GC riders smash themselves up in life-threatening training accidents within 3 years has to be exceptionally unlucky for a team. At least I assume it’s exceptionally unlucky, having only been watching cycling for a few years. Has any other team had similar bad luck in the past?

    • It’s hard to know what Ratcliffe thinks, is it some fun and a good marketing tool for his Grenadiers car? Or when he sits down for dinner with guests on his mega yacht and someone asks how things are going in the Tour de France and he’s left a bit blank, does he steer the conversation quickly to his plans Manchester United? Or is Pidcock on the verge of a breakthrough. It’ll be interesting to see if they keep or lose Rodriguez and Geoghegan Hart.

      • Interesting point about Pidcock. I guess that more teams than in the part are open to the idea of allowing riders to continue to compete in MTB & CX, provided their bike sponsors cover those disciplines.

      • Pidcock’s breakthrough is hardly announced with 49th (and fourth Brit) in the TdS opening TT, while matching the best climbers seems unlikely. He’s looking more like an ‘électron libre’, unpredictable but occasionally brilliant. I’d like to be wrong.

        • He said he was very pleased with his ride and there is a noticeable improvement in his TT. I think he is a bit caught between two stools as his real focus is getting the rainbow jersey in MTB but this year’s Tour is probably suited to him better than any recent parcours.

      • Yes, if Hart and Rodriguez leave (as is rumored), Ineos will be left with a squad with Thomas and Arensman as GC guys and Ganna for TT’s. Bernal is not back to pre-cash form and the others have not shown GT potential.
        Has the backroom boys been neglected and the riders not got the some support as at Jumbo or UAE or, as Hart described, the UK cycling scene has deteriorated so much there’s no top pro-cyclists coming through what’s left of the system? The days of Sky being able to plock up top track riders and turn them into road racers is over.
        Where to now for Sir Jim? I have a feeling he’s planning to go the way of the mega soccer clubs in Europe and just buy buy buy. Either that or, if he gets his hands on Manchester United (apparently he’s a long time fan) it might be bye bye bye and he’ll find a fellow billionaire to take over the team.

        • Don’t write Bernal off yet. He’s certainly showing much better trajectory than Froome. Guess age is on his side.

          I hope Hart stays. Now that the new UCI rule makes him a strong TTer, he really is their top 1 or 2 GC prospect pending a full recovery from Bernal (and the management knows it). Better still, his style of racing compliments with that of Thomas. They could be co-leaders in a TDF, assuming Thomas still wants to do a Tour. Either way, Ineos can support him way better than Trek can. Plus, he is a London boy, that got to count for something.

          He does need to practice keeping rubber side down. He had crashed out of both Giro and Vuelta while on stellar form before and his subdued sole Tour performance was also down to crashing. That said, this year’s Giro was a freak event and it was possibly his and Thomas’ luck even out. What’s the odd of Thomas taken out by a bidon in 2020 then fall on a warm soft body this year in that freak crash?

          Lastly, kind of wondering how well do Ineos’ British contingent and Spanish speaker contingent work with each other? I don’t feel they are as committed while riding for a leader across camp (the 2021 Tour team was subdued while riding for Carapaz despite being very strong on paper; Bernal’s Giro winning team that year doesn’t have a single native English speaker; this year’s Giro team doesn’t have a single native Spanish speaker). On the other hand, I guess none of their recent leaders are as dominating as Froome was so the domestiques less motivated and united.

    • There’s very few riders capable of winning the Tour so not every team can have one. Do you expect Ineos to magic one from nowhere?

    • Sort of a divy up the pie thing, I guess, a little rotation.

      Or maybe they just need to wait for the next patent whose exclusive use they’re granted for a handful of years. Not that they ever paid for that as a team, it came as one of the benefits of sitting on the State-supported side of the military-industrial-sporting-academic complex.

  6. I’m left wondering how this one guy can be so far above the others, especially when I can’t remember seeing it before this race? Is his training program for LeTour one month ahead of the rest? That seems the logical explanation but we’ll have to wait and see.
    Those predicting a repeat of last year’s Tour seem to skip the ideas that UAE will likely not come in as decimated as last year while J-V will field a team that’s different, without a couple of key men they used very well in 2022. Who else can get up there and make it less of a two-man race? As much as I dislike INEOS I’m hoping they can be players, not to forget Hindley and some others who could break up the J-V vs UAE showdown.

    • This will no doubt be one of the talking points in the TdF preview, but as hard as I try to remember, I can only recall that UAE lost Majka to Covid-19 during the race. Apart from his DNF, who were decimated before or during the race?

      Vingegaard will have to do without Kruijswijk and Roglic, but apart from not being to play the “We have two riders capable of winning the GC” I don´t see a weaker team this year.

      • Trentin was a scratch before the race even started. Once things got going UAE lost Laengen, Bennett and Majka to Covid-19.
        Banking on UAE to have misfortunes like those again seems wishful thinking from J-V fans, same as thinking Pogacar (assuming his return from injury has him at least close to his usual form) would fall for the same tactics J-V used in 2022.

      • Hirschi was called in at the last minute (after Trentin’s withdrawl) and he was ill, Bennett had covid or crashed, Laengen got covid, Soler was OTL and Majka was injured when his chain broke. Plus all the bike changes so UAE had problems fom day one.

  7. I had rather mistakenly had Jonas Vinegegaard down as a “one hit wonder”, now he looks not far off Chris Froome reborn (though I doubt Chris Froome ever did a lead out for a sprinter), coming into peak form just in time for July. Given the uncertainty that Tadej Pogacer’s injury has caused, Jonas Vinegegaard must be favourite to retain his title. I wonder how much longer he might stay with Jumbo Visma. Money must be an issue, Jumbo supermarkets clearly have no more interest in supporting sport, Dutch or otherwise and if the media is to be believed they are a few million Euros down after a sponsor has not paid up. Maybe with Lidl making a move in to a more headline sponsorship (I seem to remember they were a part sponsor of DQS) Aldi might go there too. Otherwise it could be a big struggle to find a replacement, teams with more secure funding eg Ineos might be in the market for a transfer.

    • Jonas V. Looks a lot more relaxed and more confident in himself than last year. He is also what my Gran ( that well known cycling commentator, but never mind) would describe as a much better colour. Last year he looked pale and almost jaundiced,

  8. Absolutely, Grenoble and the Region should do whatever’s needed to make this the showcase final stage for the Dauphiné. The revenues from a sportive could be massive.

    So tough on Ciccone to juggle honeymoon plans or Tour selection. There had better be a top-of-the-range espresso machine and lifetime supply of beans in the trousseau..

    Tour de Suisse and we’re into the final shakedown for Tour team selection. Hope Pogacar does get meaningful challenges and that we get more all-in racing, and not cagey tactical grudge matches. It’s getting so close!!

  9. Rather a prosaic point, given the excellent quality of the comments, but I think the Col de Porte was the last col on the final day, not the Cucheron. I don’t speak from experience (although hope to, at some point), just inrng’s roads to ride 🙂

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