Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 4 Preview

The time trial stage to reshape the overall classification ahead the mountains to come.

Doors Open For Laporte: little sport to report. The day’s only breakaway saw two riders go clear, then one of them sat up to leave Mathieu Burgaudeau out by himself and he folded soon after, later saying there was no point being out alone and with it, slaying the idea that any publicity is good publicity. A protest briefly saw the race blocked in the middle of the stage. The first action saw Christophe Laporte outsprint Julian Alaphilippe in an intermediate sprint to extend his overall lead. Not long after a big crash floored many and Andrei Zeits quit the race.

The action came in the finish where Christophe Laporte won the sprint. He had the good luck of seeming boxed in several times only for riders to move out of the way just at the right time. The last of these was Sam Bennett launching his sprint after his leadout ran out a touch too early. The Irishman veered to the right and this switch didn’t just box in Dylan Groenewegen, he was left gift-wrapped, all while opening the door for Laporte. As the Irishman faded in the final metres Laporte took the surprise win. Bennett and Groenewegen were both relegated, Bennett for his drift and Groenewegen for a shoulder barge on Matevž Govekar as he tried to salvage a result.

As an aside, if you asked “who is the best French rider in the world”, how many would reply Laporte? Pinot and Bardet have the legacy support. But he’s the best frenchie on the UCI rankings, plus has 4 wins which puts him ahead of Coquard  (3 wins), Alaphilippe, Démare, Grégoire, Tesson, Aurélien Paret-Peintre (2).

Someone once quipped the ads on TV can be better than the TV shows. Not this time as if the racing was a procession, the publicité on France3 was almost a funeral march. The ads told us plenty about the sport’s expected geriatric audience demographic with clips for incontinence pads, funeral plans, home equity release and hearing aids. If we’re lucky to be watching the Dauphiné several decades later equipped with these goods we’re unlikely to remember this day.

The Route: 31km, not much but probably the second longest time trial in the World Tour this year after the Giro stage to Cesena, probably as a couple of races have yet to announce their routes. It’s a lumpy course on backroads, the profile shows the climb at the start but from then on it doesn’t quite capture all the changes in direction and more, it’s a course to suit agile riders more than those who can just park the chain in the 11 sprocket.

The Contenders: Rémi Cavagna (Soudal-Quickstep) is a time trial specialist and lively on a climb or two, but he’s still prone to starting too fast although he and his team seem to have this more under control. The other big TT specialist in the field is Mikkel Bjerg (UAE) although the Dane has so far always placed but never won.

Danish fans don’t need to track Bjerg as Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) will like this course and he’s ridden two time trials this season and won them both and as superstitious types in France say “never two without three“. Team mate Christophe Laporte can do a good time trial but 30km is normally beyond his range, he’s been better at 20km or less. Dylan van Baarle has been the Dutch champ but yet to win a TT at this level.

Ineos have Dani Martinez but he’d need to be on a perfect day to win outright, he should be among those limiting their losses quite well, ditto Carlos Rodriguez who has also crashed in this race.

Longshot picks would be Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis) but the course is probably too long. Luke Durbridge and Lawson Craddock (Jayco-Al Ula) could feature but how to win? Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) crashed hard yesterday. Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Dstny) is, or was, a TT specialist but hasn’t won one since 2019.

Cavagna, Rodriguez, Bjerg
Martinez, Alaphilippe, Thomas, Craddock, Laporte

Weather: sunny and warm, 26°C.

TV: it’s a time trial so feel free to do something else but coverage starts at 3.00pm and Christophe Laporte is the last rider off at 4.00pm CEST.

62 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 4 Preview”

  1. I almost peed in my diaper when I read: “If we’re lucky to be watching the Dauphiné several decades later equipped with these goods we’re unlikely to remember this day.”

    But be aware of the demographic of your audience, Mssr Inrng! Some of us imagine these accoutrement in our lives sooner than “several decades”! (weep)

    Apropos memory: long ago Patrick Suskind (Parfum) wrote a great essay called “Literary Amnesia: in which he confessed to being unable to remember plots of books he has read–sometimes on the very same day (if I recall correctly). Am I the only one who forgets who won races very soon after? When I read that pogacar won the tour of flanders I thought, “When?”

    • I second your consternation in finding myself unable to recall book plots and race results, and this from someone who once had an amazingly retentive memory and is but middle aged. C’est la vie!

    • I find that about 95% of the time when commentators say something along the lines of “…of course you all remember when so-and-so won such-and-such race” I don’t remember it!

    • I can remember my football team’s first choice line-up from 1986, probably list the Tour winners for about two complete decades, but who won the Spring Classics this year? Most of that would be a random guess.

      What I find worse is not the forgetting, but realising halfway through a second viewing of a movie that actually I do remember enough about what’s going to happen that I won’t enjoy it.

  2. The day seemed slower and longer than an equivalent little-action TdF day with less budget, television resource and preparation, and an absence of activity on the roadside (no farmers with arranged bales in adjacent fields…). Voeckler and Jalabert seemed to share the sleepy malaise too.

    As for IR’s reader demographic, this loyal member of the club started following the sport in the days when Eddy was winning and always hoped that Frans Verbeeck would upset things. He rarely did, and why Frans?

    For today: Vingegaard with three rings and nobody else with more than one

  3. “The ads told us plenty about the sport’s expected geriatric audience demographic with clips for incontinence pads, funeral plans, home equity release and hearing aids.”
    Just like RAI here in Italy! This is why they need an old-geezer jersey – a gray one sponsored by one of the makers of the stuff you listed. Forget the sexy underwear, the real money’s in the adult diapers!!!

  4. Inrng,

    “If we’re lucky to be watching the Dauphiné several decades later equipped with these goods we’re unlikely to remember this day.”

    If you read the Apple Vision Pro and associated software reviews, some believe some of us will be consuming media wearing larke ski- like goggles, 5 years from now. It won’t be about the hearing aids etc….

    Greatly appreciate all the work you do.

  5. The ads aimed at pensioners are across the board on daytime TV. Whether its cycling, Law & Order or whatever else. And probably not just in daytime either. Not only are they the ones at home, they’re the ones with the money and also the ones that watch TV. Kids stream.

  6. “is the last rider of at” .. ? 16.00 CET according to a list I’ve seen.
    TV ads on mainstream TV do seem aimed at the elderly (or chronologically challenged, as I heard on US TV once) – at least in the EU we don’t get all the latest medicine ads like in the US … “side effects include death” – yikes!
    If Vingegaard does n’t win it’ll be a surprise, but how the other GC hopefuls at the Tour do will be interesting.

  7. Forget the geriatric audience and all the appropriate adverts.
    Yesterday’s stage looked like it was being ridden by geriatrics!
    One more negative question. In 20 years of racing all over continental Europe at a decent level, I saw or was involved in several tarmac touching incidents. BUT I can honestly say that in all of that period I was never involved in a mass ‘fall off’. Seems to be an almost daily occurrence these days. Race radios maybe?

    • You can calm down Larry. When enough teams say, pre stage, to all and sundry, “today is a sprint”, radios are irrelevant. Always has been thus.

      • “Always has been thus.” Certainly. But how do you explain the sudden rush to the front at a place where the road narrows, turns into (or away) from the wind, etc?
        I asked “don’t get me started” and you explain it all away as if radios have done nothing to change (IMHO ruin) the sport.

      • The rush to the front ‘for the sake of safety’ seemed (to me anyway) to start with Sky – long after the introduction of radios.
        Now, the cat is out of the bag, and they all do it. Hence, more crashes are caused by this – as riders like van Emden and Voeckler have opined.
        If you got rid of radios, this might well reduce the rush to the front because although the riders would no doubt be told in the morning to do this, they wouldn’t be reminded throughout the day to do it, at specific points.

  8. Any reason why ASO has sucked all interest out of this race?
    Former editions have been great, though I suppose they did have multiple Tour favourites tuning up and finalising the team whilst going head-to-head with each other.
    But it’s not just the partants, it’s the parcours: All that stupid lead-in to the finish each day has me wondering about Darwinism – are the organisers trying to eliminate riders who can’t pay attention to road dividers and bollards *before* they ever get to the Tour? The stage profiles are uninspiring.
    Has ASO given up trying?

    • Wait! What? Someone blaming ASO for a boring race? Color me shocked. I don’t blame them any more than I blame RCS – it’s the riders who make the race IMHO, but I’m (sort of) happy to see blame (that isn’t really justified) at least flung around equally 🙂

  9. Of course, it’s always the riders who make the day and yesterday, as pointed out by our wonderful host, was more a day for the adverts. Some belters too. And, in the advent of nothing much better to watch, following the afternoon bore-fest on France3, decided the highlights on ITV3 might be a trifle more enthralling – besides, David Millar’s opinion being well worth the listening to. The race didn’t change (much as i hoped it may) and more diabolical ads, par for the course plus there’s always the mute button. So far, so ok.

    But… and here’s my question… what is about (some, not all) English-speaking commentators trying to sound as if they’re French/Spanish/Italian/German/Dutch/Belgian etc etc natives? Ned Boulting has begun to veer in the direction championed by the strangulated faux Euro-diction of Rob Hatch. Last evening, watching Daniel Friebe’s intro piece, it seems he’s heading in the same direction. Why? I live in France and speak French when speaking to neighbours, French friends or in public places where that is the language spoken. But I simply don’t understand what this affectation is of a commentator, commentating in English, yet suddenly lurching from one language to another and then another before hurtling back into English in the space of one commentated sentence? Their audience is English thus, why not speak in English? In any other sport’s commentary booth, they’d be ejected. Imagine that sort of commentary of The Premier League or the Six Nations rugby?

    France 3 commentary is in French, nobody attempts to sound English. Or Australian. Or Dutch. Or German. etc.

    Baffled of La Chapelle Faucher.

    • It’s difficult, if you know how to pronounce a word or name, saying it wrongly can feel awkward too but also depends on what the audience expects to hear.

      The Economist magazine had a good article about this topic just the other day (, it’s behind a paywall but copy the URL into Google, search for it, and look for the “⋮” next to the first result, click on it, and you can read the cached page)

      • Excellent article. They refer to the Kiev/Kyiv conundrum but even worse to Donetsk. Those, seemingly in the know, pronounce it as Donyetsk, with stress on the y but that is the Russian pronunciation, in Ukrainian there is no y in the middle!

      • I think it depends greatly on whether or not there is an English version of the name.
        So, while you’re not going to pronounce ‘Paris’ like ‘Paree’, you’re also – I hope – not going to pronounce footballer Ruud Gullit as ‘Rudd Gullet’ as so many did in the 80s. (Giuseppe Bergomi being pronounced as ‘Buggerme’ was amusing, though.)

        • When I lived in LA back in the day there were a couple of local newscasters of Central American descent who would pronounce “Los Angeles” (and their own names) in that exaggerated Spanish accent, while the rest of their speech was in a standard American newscaster accent. I think they were among the first Latin American newscasters, and it seemed very intentional, like they were saying “Hey, I’m here. Deal with it.”

    • These are Eurosport/GCN commenters you are writing about? When I stream it we listen only to Italian so we get Luca Gregorio and Riccardo Magrini…both of whom we really like, along with Moreno Moser who is good too while Fabio Panchetti and Wladimir Belli we can do without. …if they’re on we’ll switch to RAI.
      We hope they keep Voight on the moto for LeTour and maybe drag Wiggo out again? The rest of the English-speaking people on Eurosport/GCN I can really do without! Same for the announcer guy RCS hires to speak English at the Giro starts/finishes…AAAGGGHHHH!!!!

    • 100% agree. When talking about Russia/Russians in English I never use the native pronunciation, it actually jars. Plus they obviously don’t know all the languages so make some quite serious errors in attempting to use anything but the English pronunciation. Sean Kelly could do with a bit of consistency, though!

    • The British seem to be unique in believing that anyone who attempts to pronounced ‘foreign’ words properly is pretentious.
      My theory is that this is because everyone else in Britain anglicises everything. But those people are pronouncing the words incorrectly, and people like Rob Hatch (an expert in languages) are pronouncing the words correctly.
      As a common example, why would you choose to pronounce ‘Porsche’ as ‘Porsh’? Just because everyone else is saying it wrongly?
      ‘Col de la Joux Plane’ or ‘Coal de la Jew [aero]plane’?

      • I’ve always said Porsh, soz. Porcha (Portia) is a posh girls name! I’m contradictory on it. Certain things when I know a letter should be said differently I’ll go with the ‘foreign’ way. Ruud Gullit being a very obviously example, or Jurgen Klopp. But I can’t get on board with some of the weird Scandinavian stuff. On the face of it their names look pretty easy to pronounce but when they say them you wouldn’t have a clue who they were talking about.

          • My French neighbours refer to London as Londres, and Rome as … Rome. If a place is large enough or important enough to have a ‘French’ name, they use it. So maybe they are honorary Brits.

        • The funny thing is that the “English pronunciation” can make non-English riders´ names quite unrecognizable when one first hears them. But one gets used to them fairly quickly (even if in some cases the pronounciation doesn´t stop being funny or painful on the ears…)

          I believe the same would be true if the English-language commentators bothered to spend five or fifteen minutes to learn at least a reasonably close approximation of how the names are actually pronounced.

          The idea that those weird foreign names have to be “Englished” so that the average spectator could follow the commentary is in my opinion quite mistaken.

          • It gets worse if you listen to cycling commentary in several languages (depending on what is available), and you try to figure out what “unknown” rider they are talking about now, but it turns out to just be some well-known but mispronounced name…

            FWIW: most Sporza commentators (especially the professional journalists, some of the former rider/DS co-commentators/analysts might be less prepared) try to pronounce names correctly, but of course for lesser known riders they might not always know.

      • What is the correct, native pronunciation. Who pronounces Bath correctly? Southerners or northerners? Should you call Florence, Firenze when half your audience won’t know where your talking about?

        • It´s quite simple: when there is an established, age-old English name , you don´t try to invent a silly problem: you just go ahead and use it.
          That doesn´t change the fact that it´s quite natural and in no way affected or whatever to pronounce riders´ names the way they are pronounced by their countrymen, It is quite enough to get the pronunciation roughly right or just right enough so that it doesn´t become unrecognizable .
          You can leave the nice finesses, the exact right vowel lengths etc to serious students of the language!
          If the commentator is a southerner, he pronounces Bath the way he always does, right? And if he is a northerner, the same rule – if you must call it that – applies, doesn´t it?

    • Rant alert:

      Living up here in North Wales the pronunciation of names is a sore point, it’s very common, and it’s political because of the historic oppression of the Welsh language by our Anglo-Brit rulers (look up “Welsh Knot” if you’d like to know more about this dishonourable history). It rankles to hear “Ll” pronounced as “L”, although it is at least a Welsh sound that doesn’t exist in English. What’s worse is pronouncing “u” (in North Welsh something like eeuh) as an English “u” (as in run). Tourists I can forgive, English incomers who move here less so and TV commentators absolutely not – it’s unprofessional and It’s a disrespect to us that actually feels personal – although admittedly I am sensitive about it.

      To my mind pronouncing a word correctly shows respect to the people and culture of that words language – Anglicising shows the opposite. Rob Hatch is awesome for showing respect imo.

      An example – think of the difference in English between pronouncing a hard or soft “o” in the name Jon.

      English has been a dominant code and it’s native speakers have been linguistically stunted by that condition – and I speak as one of these Anglos.

      Finally, before I finish my rant – the English language has been one of the key tools of the British colonial project – best use it with caution imo.

  10. The cliché that ‘it’s the riders who make the race’ is demonstrably untrue. It’s true to an extent, of course, but if a stage is flat and windless, riders will not attack because it’s fruitless. The riders and the parcours, amongst other things, make the race.

  11. “The cliché that ‘it’s the riders who make the race’ is demonstrably untrue.”
    C’mon, how long have you been following cycling? Never had anyone (or group) power away from you on the flats, never to be seen again until the finish? Never seen any echelons develop on flat windy stages? On any given course, the RIDERS decide what to do, nothing about the course forces them to do (or not do) anything. If they don’t want to race, whether the course is flat or mountainous, nothing happens and vice-versa. If your logic was true every velodrome race would see racers just waiting around for some sort of sprint finish – no attacks, no gaining a lap…just a parade followed by a short sprint. Demonstrably BS.

    • Sometimes these things happen, sometimes they don’t. Often they don’t.
      That’s why the idea that ‘the riders make the race’ is overly simplistic – because it’s not the only factor. Other things – including the parcours, weather, etc. – also influence how the race is ridden.
      Yes, the riders *can* decide how they are going to race: they could all charge off on their own and not ride in a bunch at all; they could all ride as hard as possible from the flag drop. But they’re also professionals and know the best way to ride a race (by and large). They know that an entirely flat course is very unlikely to produce a result for the breakaway, ergo not many will go in the breakaway. And yes, that is a self-fulfilling prophecy. But even so, it is true that how a race is ridden is not only determined by the riders – there are other, albeit indirect, influences.

      • If you’d substituted “overly simplistic” into – “The cliché that ‘it’s the riders who make the race’ is demonstrably untrue.” instead of “demonstrably untrue” I probably would have not bothered with a response, so if you’re backing-up on that I’ll back up on “demonstrably BS”.
        But (there’s always one, right) I’ll still claim one could go through cycling history and find attacks, drama, etc. or sheer boredom in many races or stages no matter what the course is like – hence the “riders make the race” trope.

        • The original comment also said ‘It’s true to an extent, of course… The riders and the parcours, amongst other things, make the race.’

    • Yet, you might notice that with a similar set of riders, or even with the very same ones, a given racing style happens more probably on a given type of course rather than on different ones.

      Of course, you *can* have a bunch sprint of sort on an uphill finish and an attacking race on a flattish route. But what actually happens more often? Do you seriously believe that there’s *no statistical correlation* between the kind of route riders are racing on and how the actual race ends up developing?

      Those people who were able to foresee how course design would affect the Giro 2022, or what would happen on those “easier” 2023 Giro stages despite their quite notable altitude gain, were taking a huge risk writing down all their wild guessing… Of course, it’s still guessing, as it’s all a matter of probabilities, not any mechanical determinism of sort – only, it’s not that wild. In both case, comments were made before even knowing the field, so it proved to be something not that much related to “riders making the race”.

      As a side note, we could sadly notice that it’s more frequent that a potentially great stage is turned into a dull stroll anyway rather than a flat stage (or a monoclimb one, or any other sort of predictable format) being turned upside down by unexpected moves of sort. Obviously, this makes it even better when the latter happens, but what’s more common is deception because of the former situation.

      Finally, if riders make the race, why that same set of rivals were battling far from the line in the Ronde while they left it all for the 5 minutes chess match of the Poggio at the Sanremo?
      (That said, I expect Pogi to try on the Cipressa, someday…).
      Why did Jumbo Visma used the Galibier-Granon combo to blow Pogacar instead of surprising him even more on easier days? Pure chance?

      • OK, I’ll wait for a self-proclaimed expert to describe each stage of the upcoming TdF and let us all know what days “the course will be making the race” and why. Not AFTER each stage when hindsight is so 20-20, but before. Then we can all look back and see how much dramatic racing happened on the stages he/she marked out as dull, “nothing-to-see-here” and how much happened on the days he/she marked out as full of fireworks. And then the list of excuses when they get it wrong of course.
        Kind-of-like what our host does, but he’s not quite so bold or hyperbolic with predictions of racing excitement or lack thereof.
        My memories (and they’re only that) are of plenty of stages over many years the pundits would predict as firecrackers turning out to be (as the Brits like to say) damp squibs and vice-versa, hence my claim that “the riders make the race.”

  12. As often is the case, I’m amazed at your astuteness as to the potential winners. In one paragraph, you nail the winner and 3rd place rider, and then in the next paragraph, you focus on the rider who ends up second place.
    Do you have a second job as a bookie?

      • And double so in TTs as they are the most predictable part of pro cycling. I mean it was pretty obvious you’d have to beat Vingegaard and Cavagna to win this. I wouldn’t have thought somebody was going to but indeed, Bjerg was due a result like this. Betting-wise I dared a small wager on Herregodts, 21:1 for a finish in the top 3. I was sure he’d have the legs to finish between 5th and 10th (which he did) but one can hope…..

    • Mas seems to be ill or has some problem as he has said himself, his legs are not good. Could be covid or post-covid. PCS even had Mas down as abandoned yesterday.

    • The screwball idea is indeed screwball, but unfortunately not quite unheard of in other countries as well.
      Matteo Salvini, yhe minister of infrastructure and traffic, does place high up on the screwball scale by wishing to make indicators mandatory in addition to the usual list of a road insurance, a register plate and a helmet.
      Similar suggestions pop up time and time again – just like the comment section is filled with complaints about cyclists disobeying being ignorant about traffic laws whenever there is a news story about a cyclist killed or injured in a collision with a driver who broke a traffic law.

      • Just another “blame the victim” sop to his right-wing base. You might think a right-winger would listen to business interests…so that’s the reason for my smidge of optimism that a) this will be like his bridge project (never happen) and b) the business interests will convince the govt. to instead put some laws in place to protect non-motorized road users…and enforce them.
        I asked one of my friends in the cycling clothing biz to make a jersey with a “Un metro e mezzo dalla vita” in big letters on it. My guess is they could sell a s__t-load of ’em here in Italy.

Comments are closed.