Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 7 Preview

Another early finish, another tough day in the Alps with a tricky summit finish.

Roglič takes over: the stage win and yellow jersey for Primož Roglič. He managed a victory salute but said his arm and shoulder were sore from recent crashes, even reaching into his jersey pockets was difficult but he was able to get into the drops just before the finish and out-sprint Giulio Ciccone, his only rival after Aleksandr Vlasov had loyally helped tow his leader clear of the fray.

It was an usual finish with many riders cracking, presumably paying for yesterday’s crashes. Among them Remco Evenepoel who was not able to respond to the moves and rode his own time trial to the finish with a bit of help from Mikel Landa; frustrating as we can’t apportion form and injury to the result. The surprise was Derek Gee in fourth; although Oier Lazkano was not far behind in 15th place.

Roglič is now 19 seconds ahead of Evenepoel with Jorgenson and Gee around the minute mark so it looks advantage Roglič from here on but just, as he still looks sore.

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The Route: 155km and 4,200 of vertical gain. It’s up the valley out of Albertville to Beaufort, home of the eponymous cheese and then the scenic Col des Saisies with the descent via the Crest-Voland side. Then it’s through Megève and down to Sallanches and along the valley.

The Côte d’Araches is a new climb for the Dauphiné, handy as the race can steer away from the main road but scenic as it is the first part of the Col de Pierre Carrée which leads to the Flaine ski resort and cut into a cliff on the way up. After a balcony section across that’s not really flat it’s down to Taninges and around the Col de la Ramaz. This has featured in the Tour de France before and is a tough climb, long but just awkward as it winds its way up through the meadows and gets steeper towards the top where there’s a tunnel before flatting out for the Praz-de-Lys plateau and then a final kick up to the pass.

A fast descent leads back to the valley floor and then the new climb.

The Finish: Samoëns 1600 climbs on the opposite side of the valley to the Joux-Plane. It’s a tough road to a ski station; this climb is often known as the Plateau des Saix and it’s a tough climb, forums abound with adjectives like “terrible”, “wild”, “infernal”.  It’s 10km at 9% and after two gentle kilometres it gets well over 10% once in the woodland and stays like this until 5km to go. The slope eases but only just and remains a tough climb up to the finish.

The Contenders: Primož Roglič is the obvious pick, he out-climbed everyone yesterday and Bora-hansgrohe have a strong team here. He didn’t look too incisive on the climb, his jumps are usually more trenchant but all the same the climbing rate yesterday was high. Aleksandr Vlasov has a chance here because he is climbing well and his boss this week can help out.

Giulio Ciccone (Lidl-Trek) has a chance if he can get some space, he’s 11th on GC so doesn’t have to be marked in the final kilometres.

Ineos could hold the key to the stage, if they join Bora in chasing then this can help contain the breakaway and Carlos Rodriguez and Laurens De Plus have a shot at the stage.

Derek Gree impressed yesterday but this is a harder test with the Ramaz + Saix.

Roglič, Vlasov
De Plus, Rodriguez

Weather: rain clearing with sunshine later, 22°C in the valleys.

TV: the finish is forecast for 2.50pm CEST.

Postcard from Samoëns
Samoëns (“sam-wan”) sits almost at the end of a valley in the Alps. You can keep cycling beyond but the road ends soon. Instead the usual option for cycle tourists and the Tour de France alike is to do a left turn out of the town.

This is where the Joux-Plane starts, over 11km at 8.5% which is plenty but it is one of those climbs that feels harder than the stats suggest, probably because the steep start can take its toll and the mid-sections seem to climb through meadows with none of the usual visual cues to aim for: no hairpins, no road cut into a cliff. Plus it is south-facing and hot on a summer’s day.

Samoëns is maybe not the place you’d sit down for long lunch before tackling the climb. Which poses a challenge as plenty pass through but few stop, let alone stay. So today puts a “new” climb in the spotlight. Samoëns name with “1600” indicates the altitude in metres. It probably sounded like a boast when the infrastructure was built but today it could equally evoke slushy slopes.

For the cyclists it’s going to be a tough climb and if the Dauphiné can put it on the map, it might be a matter of time until it appears in the Tour de France too. Regular appearances are need to make a climb really famous but just a couple of visits to Samoëns 1600 might suffice to encourage more cyclists to think of this as a destination: come for the Joux-Plane and Morzine, stay for the Samoens 1600.

38 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 7 Preview”

  1. Stage 6 was a fine example as to the mysterious wisdom that Inrng brings to every preview. I also questioned the omission of Remco. By how pale his skin and sunken his eyes, he gave it 110% but the form’s just not there yet. The question now is, will he have the depth to compete at the Tour?

    • Agree on Inrng’s crystal ball skills..

      On the question of depth on Remco, I think the same for Roglic too, he didn’t exactly look tip top yesterday and almost certainly for Vingegaard in the upcoming Tour. Pog likes to light it up KM’s from the finish and seems to be able to do it daily at will, I’m sure Remco, Roglic and Vgd can follow him better than most but for KM’s at end and then repeating it next day, that’s the question that Pog will be asking in July.

      Luckily for us fans, looks like we will have all of them at the Tour in a condition that should give us some racing.

    • I can’t see it.

      I really like the guy, but aside from his stellar time trialling ability there are still enormous holes in his GT skillset, particularly climbing with the best and overall resilience for a Grand Tour.

      Would love to be proved wrong.

    • He’s still building up to the Tour. He doesn’t look quite ready, you can his cheeks are a little more cherubic that when he’s been at the start of the Giro last year, or as Patrick Lefevere puts it more bluntly in his Nieuwblad column he’s got 1-1.5kg to shift by the end of the month. Not much but you don’t want to be telling the body to break down just as you’re trying to build up the form. And remember the Tour has a hilly opener, then the San Luca climb on the next day and the Galibier on Tuesday etc.

      Plus, and a point to insist on, the crash. So many riders are sore and the inflammation can be costly, it can ruin a night’s sleep which spoils things etc etc

  2. Do you think, if it comes down to it, Roglic would actually pull for Vlasov to win?

    I have a hard time seeing it–Vlasov is now his new Sepp Kuss–but it sure would be a way to cement solidarity in his team.

    • Vlasov’s just renewed with the team so his loyalty is assured but in turn Roglič might be delighted to see his colleague get the win, a morale boost. Vlasov was certainly climbing very fast.

      • Still probably a smart move to let the domestiques have their day before the Tour. Hindley seems to be suffering or holding back.
        The start of the Tour this year is unusually tough so no one will want to come in undercooked. I think there’ll be GC gaps after 4 stages which will be hard to close.

  3. As a regular to Samoëns I would say this climb is more difficult than the Joux-Plane, the lack of a pass at the top no doubt detracts visitors but there are a few nice restaurants at the top and great views further up into the mountains where the ski slopes start. Well worth it!

  4. Really didn’t think that Roglic could do that … but the assist from Vlasov wad massive. They all seem to be staggering to the finish.
    Is Scotson having his best stage race ever?

  5. I think many mis-understand Evenepoel’s abilities. IMHO he’s a classic “numbers rider” as well as “supercharged hemi-engine in a shopping-cart chassis” type. Might be better described as supercharged DIESEL engine as while his power is huge, I can’t recall seeing him ever make a massive “hole-shot” type attack vs just pushing down on the accelerator enough to distance his rivals and gradually power away. Unless he can’t – then he holds the throttle down to some specific value and continues on, maybe waiting for the last kilometer to really mash the pedal to the metal to catch up.
    Impressive enough when it works but rarely very exciting. Compare him to Pogacar (and even Roglic to a lesser level) who also has massive power but rarely (if ever) just diesels off-the-front to win like Evenepoel. Add in the (again IMHO) lack of tactical smarts vs Pogacar (proving you can only get so far with orders barked into your ear) and it proves that while you might win some rainbow jerseys this way, you’ll rarely be very exciting to watch.
    Meanwhile, it appears the former ski-jumper is settling-in well with his new team. I’m looking forward to seeing him try to beat his old teammates on that yellow team at LeTour.

    • That first time he won Liege, that was a proper attack. In general I like Evenepoel, he usually looks cool and his kit sits well on him. Thats more than you can say about 99.99% of professionals. I don’t think he’s on Pogacar or Van der Poel’s level day to day. And I don’t think he could match Vingegaard over a 3 week Tour with equally ideal preparation either. But he’s still won the worlds, a GT and a couple of monuments so he’s probably happy enough.

      • The guy strikes me as rarely happy. Same “joie de vivre” as last year’s Tour champ- cycling seems just a job that pays well – complete opposite to Pogacar.
        Just when I want to forgive/forget and chalk it up to the tremendous pressure of being the newest-latest, never-to-measure-up-to Merckcx, Evenepoel will throw some sort of tantrum and blame all the failure on someone else and I start over, no matter what he looks like on the bike.

  6. I don’t like it when organisers bloat the rating of the mountain passes. Les Saisies is more a 2.Cat than a 1.Cat, and this new Arâches looks more like a 3. Cat. On the other hand, happy to see La Ramaz play a role, it’s hard and one of the most beautiful in Savoy (as well as the closest to the Geneva agglomeration, if you like agglomerations).

    • Does the rating really mean ANYTHING beyond the points awarded towards the climber’s prize? I used to get really tired of this argument back-in-the-day when I worked on the TdF vacation tours – endless arguments about Col du X being harder than Col du Y and how the categorization was all wrong…all based on the client’s vast experience of riding a few of ’em vs the people who do this stuff all day long…in the end it’s ALL subjective, no?

      • Well, in the Giro, it’s typical of the organiser to troll around with the ratings, so as to confuse the unaware. To me, it’s all about rationality. We’ve seen the very same climb rated differently in Paris-Nice/Dauphiné than later in the Tour. Doesn’t feel serious to me. Anyway it’s not all that subjective, and cyclingcols, altimetrias and other websites, do a nice job of trying to rate/rank them objectively.

        • “Well, in the Giro, it’s typical of the organiser to troll around with the ratings, so as to confuse the unaware”
          Channeling your inner Phil Liggett with that one, eh? Those wily Italians!!! 🙂
          What I don’t get is why it matters unless you’re out there calculating how to get the climber’s jersey on your own shoulders.

          • “Rationality. Appropriateness. Coherence. Logic. Things like that matter, in themselves, to some people.”
            Agreed – but most of them live in Switzerland rather than Italy. You are probably familiar with the t-shirt with “Heaven is…” and “Hell is…” printed on it? Wish I still had mine and maybe one with the whole thing in multiple languages so people from all the countries could get a laugh out of it!

  7. At last, yesterday provided a course and stage with some excitement with a worthy winner.

    For me the jury is still out on Evenepoel as far as stage races and high mountain climbing go, despite his one victory. I am never sure if he is lacking form or simply prone to an ‘off’ day. Something that no three-week rider can afford. Today should maybe show if it’s form, injury or the mystery ‘off’ day!

  8. Have a feeling, Remco is the sort of rider who has a very high VO2, could sustain it for a rather long period of time and could recover from such efforts relatively quickly. However, his threshold is also at a lower percentage of his VO2 max. That means he could be very fast on a 5 to 10 minutes effort. This sets him more than well in Ardennes, short climbs (literally two VO2 max intervals plus some slow down and he is done) and time trials (as the excellent Dr OB mo longer dropped of GCN demonstrated recently, time trail in a real world is really a series of VO2 max intervals where you need quick recovery from. Different beast compared to do an hour record in a velodrome). However, he would suffer if doing long climbs in the company of top climbers where he can’t really recover.

  9. I hate to make requests of someone who provides a pro bono service – but a top ten GC list after the stage preview for stage races would be amazing

  10. Apropos Remco–I know nothing about training; I ride my bike and run and hike and get stronger and faster (sort of); I sit on my butt and I get weaker, is all I know. Drinking less alcohol helps my fitness, but not my outlook on life, etc.

    But: is 3 weeks really enough time to “improve that last few percentage points”, as people seem to say he must do, to be competitive at the Tour? Especially when he needs those points for the high mountains and steeper slopes? What, in other words, is realistic to do in the remaining time before the Tour?

    • I’m no expert, but my guess would be a big fat no. The start of the Tour is a beast this year, so he would have to be in perfect form to stay with the favorites, and I’m not sure he can hang with them under the best of circumstances. I’m guessing he will be in Pidcock mode and be very impressive at times, but not a legitimate contender.

      • 3 weeks by itself won’t bring big changes. But to keep it quick, if you’re coming in tired from some training and so not fresh this week to start with, then blend the recovery and ongoing training then things can improve.

      • “I’m guessing he will be in Pidcock mode and be very impressive at times, but not a legitimate contender.”
        That’s so far been the case in GT’s for him more often than not. As I wrote earlier, I don’t really see him as a true rival to recent Tour winners as much as some wishful thinkers here do. I’d make a small wager right now that he crashes out or goes home sick before it’s over.

        • Maybe we’re all getting too hung up on Remco. He’s still young, still seeing if he can be a real multiple GT contender (looking like not but there are some really strong rivals). Even if he isn’t, that’s fine – he can focus on Monuments. classics and worlds plus TTs obviously and build on an already very strong palmares. I didn’t used to like him but I’m liking him a whole lot more now as he realises he isn’t going to replicate his juniors dominance. Personally, I hope he does have another GT win in him, even if I can’t see it being the Tour or any when he’s up against Vinny, Pog or Rog in their prime.

    • Vingegaard was injured far more seriously than Remco at Tour of Basque Country. There’s a lot of optimistic happy talk from Visma team, but it seems very optimistic to think Vingegaard can seriously challenge Pogacar or Roglic at TdF.
      With Visma’s injuries & bad luck this season, it also seems both Bora and UAE will have stronger team support at TdF.
      If Vingegaard is not up to the task, who are Visma’s logical “plan B” leaders? Jorgensen and/or Kuss and “let the road decide”?

  11. Enjoying this race but also feeling more hopeful that the Tour will be competitive, with Jonas apparently recovering well without significant setbacks, Tadej perhaps a little tired after the Giro, and Primoz riding well too. I hope Remco continues to develop as a GC rider. He can always win more one-days and monuments. But I would like to see him compete for the podium at the Tour in the near future.

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