Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 4 Preview

A time trial stage and at 34km, a long one these days.

Gee Whizzes: a long day concluded with a lively uphill sprint. IPT’s Krists Neilands launched in the final kilometre and got a gap forcing others to chase. When he was brought back his team mate Derek Gee countered and was clear but had Roman Grégoire closing in. The 21 year old French man came past Gee but visibly at great cost, he seemed to be buckling with the effort and needed the finish line to come right away only Gee suddenly had a wheel to sit on and popped him for the win. Lukas Nerurkar was the best of the rest in third place, even younger than Grégoire at 20.

The Route: 34.4km, long these days for a time trial, more than the Tour de France (just), more than the Vuelta and only the Giro had longer. It’s stage in two halves, the first part is on big straight roads and then once the course crosses the Loire river it goes onto smaller roads that twist, turn and climb to the finish although this second half is harder but it’s no maze.

The Contenders: world champ Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quickstep) finds a course to suit but is the form there? He’s cut a discreet figure so far in the opening stages.

Josh Tarling (Ineos) is the time trial specialist out to usurp his own team mate Ganna as the invincible figure of time trials but hasn’t raced since being disqualified from Paris-Roubaix.

Juan Ayuso (UAE) looks like a climber but of his seven pro wins, three have come from World Tour level time trials.

Primož Roglič (Bora-hansgrohe) looked sharp on the second stage, but it’s a lot to extrapolate this to a 34km TT plus he crashed yesterday.

Evenepoel, Roglič, Ayuso
Sobrero, Vlasov, Armirail

Weather: sunshine and 24°C.

TV: the final 90 minutes are on TV and last rider is in before 5.00pm.

Postcard from Saint-German-Laval
Today’s start and finish towns are not famous at all, one theme of this year’s Dauphiné is how it is visiting small towns and villages. The finish town of Neulise – population 1,347 – made the headlines last July when a hailstorm ravaged the place, these things happen but some hailstones were 10cm in diameter. You wouldn’t want to be out cycling that day.

What’s notable today is how close today’s stage is to other recent time trial stages of the Dauphiné. Last year’s TT won by Mikkel Bjerg was a just few kilometres over to the north-east; the 2022 battle between Filippo Ganna and Wout van Aert was a few kilometres to the south in La Bâtie d’Urfé, 2021’s TT was a bit further south but still close to the Loire river like today, and the 2019 edition won by Van Aert but probably more notable for Chris Froome’s ruinous recon crash… was just a few kilometres away to the north-west. So somehow this is time trial central for the Critérium du Dauphiné.

The race often needs a time trial stage in order to give balance to the Alpine finish and enhance the week’s feel of a Tour de France redux. Yet today only a small share of the peloton will be racing for the win or even racing for a time, for many even most it’s an active recovery ride. It’s not exceptional given a sprint stage can see most of the field just aiming to complete the course and sometimes for minimal effort all day too; but it’s actively encouraged today by the 25% time cut; in the Giro this was 30% for the time trial stages, more than any other type of day. As crushing as Pogačar’s ride in Perugia was, the last rider was only ten minutes down, safely inside the roughly fifteen minute margin. So while today is billed as the “race of truth”, for many it’s truthfully not a race at all. They can save energy today in order to attack in the coming days.

24 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 4 Preview”

  1. To use a well-worn truism, you can’t win a race in the first few days, but you can lose the race. Thankfully, nobody has “lost the race” yet (except maybe Tiberi), so the race is actually just about to start. The gc competition will really start to shape up and we will probably see a few riders on a bad day drop out of serious gc contention. Not glued-to-your-seat viewing, but the first meaningful gc action. Can’t wait!

  2. Geoghegen Hart is reasonably not on IR’s chainring list but today’s TT should be a good test of his form – TdF potential too. A top ten placing today would be encouraging as would a top ten final GC place.

  3. Any rationale for such outlandish and exaggerated time cuts? It’s a bit a of joke, as it takes.away what minimal.pressure riders had to perform. Anyway, I’ve always found it hard to respect those riders who don’t mind shedding GC time. For a real sportsman, being 40th overall is better than 60th, and should matter.

  4. Tarling is fourth man off so, with just three ahead, he must be favourite for first to finish. A long afternoon awaits in the hot seat.

  5. This week’s Cycling Podcast were saying that Remco’s shoulder is still giving him some trouble and he may have trouble in the TT poition.

  6. “So while today is billed as the “race of truth”, for many it’s truthfully not a race at all.”


    I’m not one to be upset about some riders not killing themselves for a decent mid-pack TT time. It an intense specialty requiring a huge investment in training, and that training and execution can come at the expense of other roles. We don’t expect everyone to do their best sprint at the finish of a sprint stage (or to even keep riding hard after they’ve done their turn in a sprint train). And what would we think about key mountain domestiques burning their legs out on a TT to finish 40th instead of 60th? This is a team sport, and specialist roles are baked into the racing.

  7. Three cheers for the indefatigable Derek Gee, the nearly man of last year’s Giro who finally earned his first WT win plus a day in the maillot jaune for good measure. Pro cyclists in general seem like a pretty affable bunch, and Gee is about as affable as they come in interviews with the press. Hope this win guarantees his selection for the TdF.

    • Agreed – hope he’s given the freedom he deserves at the Tour. In a week where IPT’s sponsors apparently really want Froome at the Tour, it seemed symbolic to see IPT’s in-form riders animating the finish, while Froome drifted off the back well before the finish.

  8. That stat about Ayuso’s TT wins properly surprised me! I’d somehow overlooked that in doing so he’s beaten Ganna and Evenepoel (amongst others) at WT level TTs.

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