Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 6 Preview

The Dauphiné reaches the Alps and the first of three days with summit finishes.

Neutralised: it looked like a sprint finish was on the cards until a crash on a descent before the village of Marennes with 22km to go felled about 50 riders, to grab the brakes was to slide out of control but seeing others sliding meant more grabbed the brakes.

The race was neutralised while medics attended to the wounded, a lot of riders with torn clothing and skin abrasions but Dylan van Baarle and Steven Kruijswijk looked worse off and they were among the eight riders not to finish the stage, although some of these had crashed earlier. The race neutralised, the rest of the peloton was escorted the finish and that was that.

The Route: a stage in two parts, first plenty of flat and rolling roads, the marked climb out of La Côte-Saint-André is real and at KM50 the race tackles the small Col de la Rossatière.

With 70km to go the race climbs into the Chartreuse Alps and tackles the Col du Granier via Saint-Pierre-d’Entremontier, listed at 5.4% it’s more like 6-7% most of the time but with a flat section halfway which softens the gradient. The hard part is the descent, the steepest road of the Granier is used.

The Finish: the Collet d’Allevard is a ski station summit finish meaning a regular, engineered road but it’s steeper than usual for the French Alps with a selective 8.1%. It was last used in 2011 when Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez won.

The Contenders: a pinch of salt for all picks with riders wounded. Taking to the start today doesn’t mean everyone is 100%, even a bad night’s sleep because of raw skin can spoil things for today. Primož Roglič (Bora-hansgrohe) has fallen twice already but he’s stoically joking about using up his stock of team kit. He’s in from from the time trial and should be fast for taking the stage.

Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain) is an excellent climber and “only” two minutes down. That’s not much but tells us he did a great time trial so the form is there.

Among the breakaway picks Clément Berthet (Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale), Tiesj Benoot (Visma-LAB) and Davide Formolo come to mind but all three might prefer tomorrow or the day after.

Ciccone, Rodriguez, Kuss

Weather: 24°C but a strong chance of rain.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.10pm CEST.

Postcard from the Gorges du Guiers
In between the intermediate sprint in Les Echelles and the Col du Granier is the Gorges du Guiers where the road climbs up a narrow canyon. This is probably the location of a famous photograph.

You may have seen this photo of Bernard Hinault before. There’s a lot going on. He’s wearing the yellow jersey and we can tell it is the Tour de France by the “Banania” sponsor of the jersey. His race number 11 corresponds to the 1985 edition. He’s sporting Rayban glasses, something that became his “look” in a time when few riders wore sunglasses.

Hinault’s stopping to urinate, the photo captures things mid-flow which is unusual but typical Hinault machismo. Stopping to pee often marks a tactical moment in the race: when the yellow jersey pauses for a leak the peloton is often expected to ease up. It’s not ordained, there has to be some sense and consensus, for example the breakaway has gone and everyone, perhaps reluctantly for some, has sat up. If the yellow jersey can stop, others will take their cue and so we have a tactical moment.

But where was it taken? He took the jersey on Stage 8 that year and kept it to Paris. The terrain looks mountainous and the addition of infrastructure with the white fence and the zinc railing below suggest the Alps. As Hinault has stopped it’s probably early in the stage. By a process of familiarity and elimination it’s the Gorges du Guiers by the Pas de Frou, note the postcard with the white fencing and the darker railing below.

Today’s stage won’t quite climb past this point as the road has been changed, the old road was literally hanging over the steep cliffs in places and subject to heavy rockfall. A tunnel has been built. The old portion and the white fencing still exist though, they’re just fenced off for motorists.

Hinault looks in command, surveying the scene. While Fred Vichot had attacked on the descent – his thing – the bunch was relatively calm until a hectic finale. With moves flying Hinault was struggling to cover his rivals as Luis “Lucho” Herrera rode away for the stage win. Hinault got back on terms and coming into the finish, crashed after hitting a sunken inspection cover and tangling with Phil Anderson. Hinault sustained a range of facial injuries, including a nose broken in two places and needed stitches to his face and scalp. Perhaps the metal and glass Raybans made things worse. He pedalled across the line, blood running down his face to make another famous Hinault image.

Hinault did not lose time as the crash happened in the final kilometre. A touch of irony here as the finish was in the city of Saint-Etienne and it was here that Eddy Merckx fell while sprinting for the win in 1972. He was given the same time as the group he was with, this incident was part of the origin of the kilometre rule, today now extended to three kilometres.

43 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 6 Preview”

  1. If Jorgenson didn’t crash then you would think that things are opening up a bit for him now. Two crashes seem like too much for Roglic to overcome.

  2. There is some footage of the crash taken on a phone by a roadside spectator. It is very scary, it was as if the peloton hit a patch of ice at speed, riders were simply toppling over and sliding along the road surface. Not sure any amount of safety checks can prevent something like that. It does seem inevitable that this will affect the outcome of the race and potentially the TdF.

  3. While Roglic is a master of these shorter climbs and Evenepoel is a bit unpredictable(sometimes winning or sometimes falling away badly) at least one star for Evenepoel would be okay i think.

  4. From the first person retelling of the anecdote by Hinault himself (as linked above), P. Anderson caused the crash on purpose. But I can also easily imagine that Hinault is playing a Roglic-Wright thing here, of course boosted on a whole different level of arrogance and paranoia as one can expect from a Roi like him.

  5. Again, one wonders if this is down to the riders not taking responsibility for their own safety. If it’s dangerous, slow down.

    I think – and riders have said this – that it’s because of team radios. They’re constantly being told to get to the front ‘because it’s safer’ (both Evenepoel and Fred Wright have said riders were ‘fighting for position’ over the top of the hill). Let the riders decide how to ride. Jos van Emden and Voeckler said the same thing before they retired.

    You don’t need team radios for safety – just the overall race radio.

    It’s not the rain that causes crashes. It’s how you ride in these conditions.

    In the past, I think the riders would speak to each other and agree to ride slower – now they ride as the guy in the car tells them to ride.

    Weather is not dangerous unless there is snow or ice on the road (or it’s too hot).

    I think a lot of people (and I’m one of them) are angry at the CPA and Adam Hansen for previous occasions where they’ve backed the riders refusing to ride in the rain. Uncomfortable does not equal unsafe. (I think that’s why a lot of people thought they should have ridden the mountains on Stage 16 of the Giro. For me, unless Hansen faked this photo, this doesn’t seem safe to ride on:, but I don’t ride so I don’t know.)
    Then you have to factor in that it’s not one rider-one vote: the teams nominate a rider to vote. And it’s not anonymous. Ergo, the teams control what the CPA does. And the powerful teams with the best riders want to control everything so that the riders with the best legs win the races. And they want to stop anything that might interfere with that. Hence, they don’t want to ride in the rain.

    On top of that, though, why have newly-laid tarmac on a downhill? We all know that leaks oil.

    A lot of people blame disk brakes being too powerful and making the tyres lock-up and slide more easily. Is there any truth in that? I don’t know.
    Tom Boonen once said that disk brakes will be no improvement because the tyres are the limiting factor.
    I wonder if they could use treaded tyres – would that improve how they work in the wet? (Again, I don’t ride, so I’ve no idea.)

    • The riders had slowed down on sections yesterday, recognising that tricky conditions had caused the earlier crash. Given it’s a race, I don’t think it’s unreasonable they were going fast on the straight, slightly downhill section of road where dozens fell.

      Looking at the way the riders fell one at a time, in some cases after going sideways, I don’t think disk v rim brake was a factor: there was simply not enough traction between tyre and tarmac. And I say this as someone who believes that marketing rather than real-world benefit drives the widespread adoption of disks.

      • Sorry, this was me. I agree with you that this was clearly a very slippery piece of tarmac, hence me complaining that it was newly-laid, but also the riders do mention that they were fighting for position, as they so often – needlessly – are these days. And they do that because the team radio is telling them to, as many riders have confirmed.

      • ” I don’t think disk v rim brake was a factor: there was simply not enough traction between tyre and tarmac.”

        Several things affect traction and one of them is braking force. So if disks give more braking force (in the wet, I think they do), then they will be more likely to overwhelm your traction causing a crash. I think fresh, oily tarmac is a much bigger culprit, but disks couldn’t have helped.

        • Even under dry conditions, I am very leery and cautious on fresh, new, asphalt road surfaces. When wet, I’d think oily residues would float to the the top, making traction even more risky.

    • We hear all the time from current riders, retired riders and commentators how the racing is ‘on all the time’ now and that racing is generally more intense and quicker than even relatively recently. For example you have riders who have been around for 10-15 years, such as Luke Rowe, saying that the intensity has gone up a lot during their career. So I think there is a case to be made that the riders are generally pushing harder now whether its lashing down, whether a descent is slippery, whether there are tree roots making the road bumpy or anything else. So where they maybe would have taken a breath and eased back now they barrel in and hope for the best. Because obviously you have to be at the front all the time, absolutely wherever you are and whatever the conditions, for safety. All 200 riders on a road that is often 5 or 6 meters wide. It’s definitely safer if they all elbow, push and charge to be at the front.

    • I think you’ve used a really bad crash which the riders could have done almost nothing about to have a rant about race radios and safety here. You can see from spectator footage that the road was like an ice rink due to oil from fresh tarmac and the riders weren’t all bunched up super close. One or two near the front lost traction and everyone went down the second they touched the brakes (which they had to do to avoid the crash happening in front). It’s just one of those things that happen. This would have been the same in literally any race, in any era.

      Also treated tyres would have made no difference. They are good for removing water to stopping aquaplaning, which was not the issue yesterday and is almost never an issue for cycling due to the small contact patch relative to the weight of the bike.

      • Absolutely agree that he has used this big crash to bang on about his favourite topic of race radios – and the riders would have suffered the same painful issues with ot without them.

  6. +1 on Hansen and how the ‘safety system’ operates and race radios.
    I ride both disc and caliper equipped bikes and can ‘lock’ the rear wheel with both. Calipers do have an advantage with ‘feel’, in as much as you can sense the braking response much more easily. BUT the manufactures have decided discs it is.
    I hope that all riders who finished yesterday have recovered.

    • “I ride both disc and caliper equipped bikes and can ‘lock’ the rear wheel with both”
      That thing squeezing the disc (as well as the rim) is also a CALIPER so IMHO they should be referred to as “rim” or “disc” brakes even though one could argue that “rim” is a sort of “disc”.
      All this crashing on wet descents makes me wonder if the poor efficiency of rubber pads squeezing the side of an aluminum rim in the rain wasn’t a sort of safety mechanism vs the stop-(or crash)-on-a-dime characteristics of hydro discs? You might go too fast, miss the turn and go off the road back-in-the-day, but I don’t remember so many mass “going down like bowling pins” pileups with old-time braking systems.
      I’m reminded of this each time I ride my vintage bike in a historic event and we hit the first unpaved descent – those old brakes were very hard to lock-up, perfect for staying upright as I make my way down!

  7. The industry forcing of disc brakes on bikes which weigh next to nothing on small patch of thumbnail rubber, what could possible go wrong. But never ming that, how the $$$ going?

  8. If it was true that the safety question is tackled seriously, we would have had a crash database *before* the introduction of disc brakes, which were known to be a potential issue, even forcing the industry to wait 2-3 seasons before allowing disc brakes if it was necessary to establish the data set. Then you’d have had a sample huge enough (hundreds of athletes, tens of thousands of racing kms each) to get solid conclusions even from rough figures.
    However, it can still be done, although differently. Just check, say, a decade of racing on rim brakes, only for those big races which have received in-depth detailed written live coverage. Then compare it to a decade of disc brakes (to reduce the impact of the adaptation period). Or just take away the first 3-4 years.
    Pro athletes are, well, pro athletes, skilled and trained enough, and if disc brakes are safer you should notice that in terms of crashes.
    If you get more crashes even for complex reasons like «since the brakes are safer, people take more risks and crash more», well, the technology (intended as the interaction between an object and humans) is not safe although the brake as such has more stopping power or whatever.
    But, evidently enough, this is not a relevant safety issue for the CPA…

    • I’m not sure about your logic, although I’m really just putting this forward as an idea because I don’t think simple stats tell the whole story. If discs are safer then they could also be less safe, at least in the pro peloton/among elite riders because it means they take more risks, brake later etc.
      I wasn’t there yesterday so can’t say for sure but it seemed to be something more than a wet road – an oil spill or something making the surface like an ice rink so possibly little to do with discs and the peloton’s riding.
      Anyway, happy to be told I’m wrong.

      • Mine was a general point, not related to yesterday specifically. Stats don’t usually work great if you don’t take into account the setting, but this change in rules and tech adoption over the whole peloton would have been just the perfect scenario for a good deal of effective data work. The nature of any single event would be close to irrelevant once you check a whole decade or so.
        Plus, as I already stated above, we’re only interested in the final result as in a black box approach, i.e.,we should keep the state of things which, once well established, produces less crashes, whatever the process (a famous paradox is that wearing a helmet might be less safe because – at least in the countries where the experiment was carried out – drivers tended to behave more dangerously when interacting with a cyclist with a helmet on…).
        Of course, there’s more complexity involved. A technology with clear benefits might be nevertheless be worth a long adaptation work.Yet, it’s paramount to be aware of the target objectives and the short term critical issues. But we’re very far from the above, and if anything quite closer to some money-driven authority argument.
        Who should work to grant the athletes the safest possible use (or not) of any given technology?
        Yeah, the guys who look more interested in the right to avoid riding if it rains.

        • That’s Ian Walker, University of Bath. He, with co-authors, has studies showing both risk-compensation effects in helmet-wearers, and in motorist behaviour around cyclists with and without helmets.

    • Is it just me or is Richard Plugge more concerned about his business model and would much prefer to be running an F1 team rather than being worried that his prize assets are getting banged up as a result of another crash!

      There seems to be a basic difference be tween F1 / MotoGP & bike racing. In the first two the drivers / riders can be provided with a certain amount of protection. In F1 the drivers are now surrounded by a very strong cage and have various other protection, yes the kinetic energy involved in a car crash far exceeds that with a bike but the level of protection is on another level. Whilst motor bike riders have little protection against collision and the risk of trauma caused by a collision their clothing means they should not be exposed to “road rash” injuries. Bike riders have practically zero protection beyond helmets and gloves. This offers little or no real protection and a simple low speed spill can have serious consequences.

      No amount of twiddling around with brakes & race radios is ever going to change this. Obvious safety concerns like urban street furniture can be dealt with if the will and resources are there. However incidents like yesterday would seem to be simply “part of racing”. There will continue to be mass crashes when large groups of riders race at speed, a simple miscalculation by one can bring down many others no matter what brakes they use.

      • Just watched two riders go off on a corner on a dry road (fortunately both seem OK) 4 others went round the corner no issue at same time. Cant blame brakes or radios or Adam Hansen or pushing to get to the front though perhaps riders who went off had a dodgy tyre choice (unlikely). It is a function of riding a fundamentally unstable vehicle

        • A part of that part will always be like that… Another (often greater) one, needn’t be so.

          Same as road safety. «Cyclists will always suffer road accidents when confronted with motorised vehicles» – yeah, but how many? Depending on which factors? Just compare different European countries to see how the incidence of the same phenomenon can vary 5x or even a magnitude year after year. And not by pure chance.
          Irrespective of any single event, the total amount will be affected by decisions and policies.

        • As a personal anecdote, after seeing those two go off on that turn, I always descended so much better on steel/al/ti bikes with alloy wheels. Carbon bikes and wheels just seem worse. Too stiff? Maybe it’s just me.

      • There’s a lot to learn from other sports, but the big difference with F1 is the use of closed circuits with many laps. Cycling could do this but it would be a very different concept to traversing regions, landscapes etc.

      • “There seems to be a basic difference between F1 / MotoGP & bike racing.”
        But they’re alike in the fact the people who own/run teams would LOVE to minimize the influence of these pesky, expensive, fragile, etc. humans and make it all about the machines. But at least the UCI still pays some lip service to the “primacy of man over machine” idea vs the other two 🙂

  9. As the downslope increases so does the braking distance and if the riders are mindful of this it is not apparent. Motorsport generally doesn’t have a lot of downhill … although Spa might be an exception.

    • It’s all relative…the only thing “downslope” really does in cycling is allow increased speed…something internal combustion engines take care of handily…so whether motor racing circuits have any downslope is irrelevant. If anything, downslope should allow for more water drainage vs a flatter motor racing circuit….so less hydroplaning or other slippage.
      I’m old enough to remember when Shimano introduced their first dual-pivot brake caliper (you know, the old-time ones that squeezed the sides of the rims?) which were notoriously overpowered and undermodulated. Results were plenty of crashes, a lot of ’em simply “too much front brake” instances where riders launched themselves over the handlebar trying to stop before some crash/obstacle ahead of them. They never hit anything…just launched themselves on-their-own. It was comical to watch in a way. Hydro disc brakes are similar but seem to more easily overcome the meager traction provided by the tiny “contact patch” where rubber meets road…larger sectioned/lower pressure tires be damned….so “losing the front” (a moto racing term) is more common than what off road moto guys used to call a “Flying W’.

  10. Inrng, on the location of the photo, I see you have revised where you think it was. I think you were right the /last/ time you brought this up (inrng dot com slash 2024 slash 02 slash tuesday-shorts-17) that it was taken just before the tunnel de frou – good bit further down the road than this new gmaps screenshot.

    Only thing, the railings do not quite match in the screenshot you pasted in that previous story, except, about 50 metres earlier, before the tunnel du Frou sign, then the railings *do* match. And in particular, far in the background of the photo, past the gorge in the valley beyond, you can see a series of stepped fields and some buildings that appear (other than growth of tree lines) to be identical (though, one of the buildings is now obscured). The gorge wall also matches there.

    So I think you were right /last/ time, and it’s just before Tunnel du Frou.

    See: maps dot app dot goo dot gl slash FmbenCnucEdGLNou8

  11. I love the anti disc brake commenters now complaining that they break with too much power when all we heard initially that they were no better than rim brakes. All these arguments are much ado about nothing. Progress happens whether we want it or not, or need it or not. I’m just going to go for a ride.

    • “Progress happens whether we want it or not, or need it or not.”
      Even when it’s not progress, but merely change. THAT is the brilliance of marketing!

  12. Chapeau to Mr. Ring for his prediction of Roglic’s fitness. Sure looks like tomorrow will see consolidation of his lead. Vlasov looks fantastic as well. Will be very interesting to see if Remco bounces back or collapses completely out of contention tomorrow; it looks like one of those days that he doesn’t enjoy. The other podium contenders were decent today, but nobody looks a sure bet to get through tomorrow unscathed. Another fascinating day ahead.

    • Remco didnt even warrant 1 star in INRNG’s predictions. Remco’s reputation for stage race inconsistency against the other favorites will be hard to shed.
      I don’t doubt Remco will win some TdF stages (probably the ITTs ?), but then he unpredictably collapses and loses many minutes. I just can’t see him winning TdF … and might not even podium

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