The Dauphiné goes as far from the original Dauphiné region as you can get with a trip to the spa town of Salins and with it, a tough late climb.
Great Danes: Slovenian cycling fans have had it pretty good of late but the Danes must be glad, to use a Danish word. Not only did Mikkel Bjerg win the time trial, the second place went to Jonas Vingegaard and everyone else was left trailing. Ben O’Connor did a great ride but still lost 29 seconds to Vingegaard, almost a second per kilometre, Adam Yates was at 45s, Dani Martinez at 55s, Jai Hindley at 56s.
David Gaudu suffered in the heat and was over two minutes down; Richard Carapaz fared even worse, as did Mikel Landa. Enric Mas lost close to three minutes, although that included a 20s time penalty after his team car was driving too close. As much as all these names would wanted more from the day, spare a thought for Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r Citroën) and Ben Turner (Ineos) who both crashed out.
The Route: 191km and over 2,000m of vertical gain, most of which comes late into the stage when the race reaches the Jura mountains. While the Dauphiné route often overlaps with the Tour de France, it’s usually on the obvious mountain valleys and passes, today the déjà vu comes from the hilly part of the stage, the climb of Château-Chalon and the roads after are borrowed from Stage 19 of the 2020 Tour de France and then more roads are borrowed from Stage 19 of this year’s Tour. It’s all postcard scenery of gentle mountains and grazing cows whose milk makes the prized Comté cheese and the early climb near Ivory is more of a drag up.
The Finish: more déjà vu with the visit to Salins, last seen in April’s Tour du Jura when the race rode through the town and then tackled the climb to Thésy. It’s a steep forest backroad and starts hard with some 10-12% at the start and it carries on climbing past the KoM point. Then it’s down a wider road, still with some awkward bends, into Salins for a flat finish.
The Contenders: a sharp climb followed by a twisty descent and then a sprint from a small group? Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quickstep) is a safe pick, helped by a strong team. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) could be back in the same mood as the Basque Country where he was winning almost everything going and we’ve all seen his monster lead outs this week.
Once upon a time Omar Fraile (Ineos) would be a good pick but he could be on team duties here. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) can sprint well for his tiny build but Valentin Madouas is more powerful.
if you want more déjà vu then why not Maxim Van Gils (Lotto-Dstny) who rode the same finish in 2018 as part of the Tour du Jura when it was an U23 race, he didn’t win that day but set the Strava time up the climb that lasts and he’s been sprinting well from a group.
The breakaway has a chance today because a good proportion of the field know they won’t win in the next three days of the Alps so it’s now or never, all with the added tension of some riders wanting to catch their manager’s eye for the Tour de France selection. However there might not be enough collective power to get clear. Still Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Dstny), Dorian Godon (Ag2r Citroën) and Andrea Piccolo (EF) come to mind as quality riders although the form’s a question for all, plus Alexis Vuillermoz (TotalEnergies) is a local of sorts from the Jura area.
|Van Gils, Madouas, Carapaz, Tesfatsion
Weather: sunny and 26°C, feeling warmer on the tarmac.
TV: the stage starts at 11.45 and finish is forecast for 4.40pm CEST with live coverage from 3.00pm onwards.