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.