Critérium du Dauphiné Review

Primož Roglič won, but just. None of the main GC contenders will come out delighted even if others are satisfied with the work last week, especially Derek Gee.

An abbreviated review with no pictures because of travel in a place with little internet coverage

Has Decathlon-Ag2r’s golden season slowed? On the opening day Sam Bennett was beaten and the next day Bruno Armirail was caught within sight of the finish when until now everything was going there way. The more rational explanation is Lidl-Trek had the beefier lead-out for the opening day and Mads Pedersen timed his sprint better to win; the next day Armirail did well to keep going out in front for so long until he was engulfed by the bunch within sight of the finish and Magnus Cort took the stage, holding off Primož Roglič.

Derek Gee’s win on Stage 3 was impressive but made even more sense with hindsight, he was able to make a move off team mate Krists Neilands and then outplayed Romain Grégoire for the win. Knowing what kind of climbing ability he’d show in the coming days we can see things bode well for him for the rest of the summer.

The time trial to Neulise was Remco Evenepoel’s day, the stage win and the yellow jersey after he beat specialist Josh Tarling and the uphill finish to town making the difference. Roglič was the only rider within a minute and he was followed by Matteo Jorgenson, Oier Lazkano and Derek Gee, again we can see these rides in a different light now. At the time they were solid performances but now part of a package with added range in the mountains from Lazkano and Gee. Continuing with the helmet visor of hindsight from the day Carlos Rodriguez lost 1m41 seconds or almost three seconds per kilometre so as good as we could climb later in the race this penalty put him out of the GC race.

Stage 4 looked like a sprint stage on paper with a chance to the breakaway given some hilly roads in the final. Coming off the last categorised climb of the day the road down to Marennes was soaked and a mass crash happened. Riders were doing between 60-70km/h with the only mitigation being that many slid out rather than hit hard. But there was mass damage, so much so that the race could not go on. There must have been a run on medical gauze that day or the next as team doctors replenished supplies to tend to the all the abrasion.

Laurens Huys, Adne Holter, Axel Mariault, Remi Rochas were out, as were Milan Menten and Luke Durbridge who reportedly crashed before. But so were Dylan van Baarle and Steven Kruijswijk, yet more bad luck for Visma-LAB as two key lieutenants look to have the kind of injuries that mean July is spent in rehab. At this race the team will be asking themselves whether they just stay on Mount Teide all season and fly in for the grand tours and Monuments; but the calculation is not new as during their Roglič years they weighed up the benefits of racing pre-Tour or not and in some years got their leader to race precisely to hone his peloton craft.

The Marennes crash was a downer three times over, for the injuries sustained in the moment and the resultant lack of racing; for the impact it had on riders during the rest of the race with many left sore and inflammed and unable to show us what they were capable of; and worse because of the impact on the rest of the summer. Many more riders would leave the race with injuries and others are left nursing injuries that will need time to heal just when they want to be putting the finishing touches on their training.

The mountain stages were still instructive. Roglič said he struggled to put his hand in his dorsal pockets to reach food but still managed to win two stages in a row. We’ll come to the third day for him in a moment. Derek Gee was the major revelation and active too, making a move in the final kilometre. Alas Remco Evenepoel was struggling here but relatively, he looked a little cherubic in the cheekbones and his boss Patrick Lefevere put it more bluntly writing that he needs to shed 1-1.5kg before the Tour. Back-of-envelope calculations see losing 1kg is equivalent to gaining 20W which probably closes the gap to the best so there’s hope for him to improve, especially as he was nursing a shoulder injury too. But this means he’s trying to get his body to break down, it’s delicate now.

This was Roglič’s second win in the race and quite the contrast. The first in 2022 meant he went into the Tour de France as a top favourite, even if at the Plateau de Solaison his junior colleague Jonas Vingegaard was on the up and assume leadership after Roglič’s first week “mummie” crash. Now Roglič is leader of his team but instead of riding away from the field he was fighting to save his race lead. So he wins but did not float away with things.

Embed from Getty Images

The Verdict
Lively at times. The Dauphiné has had some gripping editions when the result has been overturned on the last day. Recent editions (2021-2023) have lacked this drama so to see the overall result uncertain until the final moments added some spice but the suspense only came in the final five kilometres as Roglič faded. It probably won’t make the highlights of 2024.

The race was spoiled by two crashes. The first was the infamous incident in the Tour of the Basque Country that meant Jonas Vingegaard was not racing and Remco Evenepoel is still in rehab. The second was on the way to St Priest. It had several effects, on riders, the race and possibly the Tour de France. From the outside the frustration is trying to apportion form versus injury, would Roglič’s fade on Col des Glières have happened normally or was it due to the crash injury, inflammation and fatigue? Likewise with Remco Evenepoel, was his performance in the mountains as he expected as he makes his way back, or temporarily derailed by injury? More of the former perhaps as he was riding like Evenepoel 1.0, winning the TT but not climbing as fast nor contesting the uphill sprints earlier – pre crash – when he’s been able to race like this before.

Carlos Rodriguez probably got one of his finest win so far and this bodes well for the Tour de France. The time trial cost him plenty but a year ago he was further off the pace and closed the gap by the Tour, if he can repeat this he’s got to be on the list of podium contenders, especially with Ineos behind him. They’d surely sign today for third place.

Derek Gee was the revelation of the week. His Giro last year with long raids and endurance in the mountains showed plenty and told us he was an amateur ornithologist but at the Dauphiné he soared to new heights. Mentions to Oier Lazkano for added depth, Callum Scotson for climbing performances and Javier Romo too.

While the final result was the second closest this century, just eight seconds it should also be defined by just 94 finishers, the least since 2010.

66 thoughts on “Critérium du Dauphiné Review”

  1. Matteo Jorgenson is another revelation. 2 North Americans on the podium.

    He’ll likely be in the Tour riding for Jonas Vingegaard along with Sepp, however, You never know & We don’t know their plan B’s.

    *INRNG, What are You & other’s thinking about Matteo?

    & I didn’t like seeing Cort leave Education First.

    • Funny how Gee’s exploits kind of overshadowed Jorgenson‘s form (I was guilty of this when watching the race). I’d also forgotten quite how young (in traditional cycling terms) Jorgenson is, which hints there could be more to come, especially as he seems to have juggled his aims across stage racing and cobbled classics. Based on this week, plus the earlier GC form in Paris-Nice and elsewhere, he could be a very useful co-leader with Vingegaard in the Tour, which might the best way to pressure Pogacar.

  2. Great performance by Derek Gee and a very rare UWT stage race GC podium for IPT – apart from this years’ TDU, I can’t recall another podium they’ve made.

  3. Roglic put in a solid time trial the day after his first crash and paced himself to perfection on the final day when his systems were shutting down. He is very tenacious. The last time he won he was getting sideways glances from a lean and hungry Vingegaard so I expect he will be able to enjoy this win a little more.
    Jorgensen has consolidated his place as a GC front runner and probably lost this one on the first day in the mountains. There could be some interesting team dynamics at VLAB during the tour.

  4. I think one of the questions that was answered at the Dauphiné was whether or not Vlasov and Hindley would be willing to fold into the “Richie Porte” role. I personally had a lot of doubts about this, especially for Vlasov (who had previously made public statements to the effect of “the road will decide”). Both of them (and especially Vlasov) were essential for Roglic’s win. Bora looked like a well-drilled unit, and their strength as a team was what won this race. It makes me a little more optimistic that the Tour will be a race, not a coronation.

    • That’s a value added observation. It will be interesting to see where Vlasov and Hindley get there chances with RB-Bora-Hansgrohe. The Vuelta? Or 2025 when Roglič is 35?

      Vlosov did appear to turn himself inside-out for Roglič.

      • Vlasov just days ago signed a new contract with Bora for some more years. So I guess he’s not too unhappy with his role in the team

        • Yes, the new deal buys a lot of loyalty. This isn’t meant cynically, it’s a point to get him on board sign up for things, whether its helping Roglič this summer or having the team in his service later this year or next etc.

    • They rode well and Roglič’s second stage win was down to the work done to take back five minutes from Soler in few kilometres. Roglič also looked like he was enjoying himself with them too.

  5. “Has Decathlon-Ag2r’s golden season slowed? On the opening day Sam Bennett was beaten and the next day Bruno Armirail was caught within sight of the finish when until now everything was going there way. ”
    Somebody must have raided the service course and switched the bikes to the “bad old ones” they rode before 🙂
    Dauphine showed me a) Roglic’s new team is OK, but not the juggernaut some feared b) Visma must be sighing with relief at the thought of Jorgenson being part of their Tour team whether last year’s winner shows up or not c) Evenepoel remains a “numbers rider” in this case one waiting/hoping his numbers are good enough at Tour time d) Chris Froome should hang up his wheels (or take up gravel in the USA) and let the money the team is wasting on him be used for riders like Gee.

      • I think most here are sick of my explaining this idea so I’ll be brief – “numbers riders” are those who have…well…great numbers (VO2max, VAM, Strava, Watts/kg, etc.) but aren’t much when it comes to cycling ability. Most get “found” in other sports and slapped onto a bicycle. When on a good team with good direction (through earpieces) etc. this can yield excellent results. But they crash a lot and are rarely exciting to watch which is the foundation of my disdain for them, but the increase in “technology” these daze seems to make them more prevalent or more successful, though no less dull – especially in stage races when the scheme is “mow ’em down in the chrono, defend in the mountains. ZZZZzzzzzz.
        Gimmee a Pogacar or Alaphillippe (or back-in-the-day a Chiappucci or Hinault) instead…please!!!

        • Not sure the “mow em down in the chrono” tactic is any more prevalent than it always has been – Miguel Indurain? No earpieces either 🙂 The difference now is that the race organisers seem to have a reluctance to have any sort of long distance TTs. Difficult to imagine Bradley Wiggins being able to win the TdF with current type courses.

          • JC- Indurain was dull, dull, dull IMHO. He mowed ’em down enough in those long chrono stages he didn’t need much tactical advice. But he also knew how to ride a bike and wasn’t plucked out (as far as I know) of some other sport once his amazing “numbers” were discovered vs Roglic, Evenepoel, etc.
            150- Isn’t everyone pretty slippery through the air these daze? That’s another thing I wish would go away – chrono bars/bikes/helmets/wheels…all of it. How is the SPORT made better by any of this crap?

        • I think that Evenopoel is a bit more interesting than that in as much as he seems to be very slippery through the air. His problem is that he is a bit of a one trick pony with riding off the front.

        • I think there is some confusion/cross over here between a ‘numbers rider’ who rides at a high steady wattage on climbs to avoid blowing up and someone who has been found to have a big engine through Zwift or a Wattbike or whatever when their primary sport isn’t/wasn’t cycling. I would understand a numbers rider to be someone who observes their numbers and paces themself with them on a climb. Almeida is the most obvious current rider, as well as Evenepoel. These are riders who can climb well because they aren’t that heavy and can knock out big threshold power for a long time, but aren’t so good at big over threshold attacks. They are usually also good time trialists. They don’t have to have come from a none cycling background though. They are opposed to explosive climbers who can attack and then attack again at will and keep dipping in and out of ‘the red’. Indurain and Wiggins are other examples, though whether in Indurains day his numbers were available on a screen in front of him i’m not sure.

          Also, it could be argued that Chiappucci very much was a numbers rider.. just the numbers he had to pay attention to were in the 50s and 60s, not 400-450..!

          • I coined “numbers rider” for those who otherwise wouldn’t be in cycling except for their “numbers”. No instinct, tactics, no bike-handling skill – just numbers on various instruments indicating they have strong engines.
            Just like in any form of racing, engine is only part of it and can be overcome by skill (or in motorsport terms, a better handling chassis) tactics, etc.

        • Thanks, but I know you meant by numbers rider – what I didn’t understand was why, on the basis of the Dauphine, Evenepoel fell into that category,

          • “Numbers riders” don’t change unless by some miracle or lots of experiece they learn how to ride a bike, read a race and look after themselves rather than relying on piped-in directions from a DS and falling off every time things get dicey. Can’t think of any who have done that but there must be an exception out there somewhere?

          • Maybe this is semantics, but does Remco ever really “attack” or does he just ratchet up the power until he gets separation? Indurain rode that way his entire career, which is why the comparison seems apt. I have to say, though, that I think Remco has shown a lot more panache on the bike than in a few short years than Indurain did in his entire career. I’ve tried going back and watching the ‘91-‘95 Tours, and find them impossible to watch. People complain about the Sky years, but OMG Banesto was dull.

        • Larry, can we get some more examples of who you mean by numbers rider? Ok evenepoel but who else. Are we talking Woods (running) or Roglic (ski jumping) or like Zwift guy like Vine? Or are we talking about track riders who are number obsessed like Milan and Ganna?

        • “JFC (jfc) is a vulgar slang initialism/…/ It’s usually used as an exasperated exclamation in times of frustration or for emotional emphasis in a variety of informal contexts, especially in digital communication.”

          OK I should perhaps have added an emoticon of some kind. Anyway, the point was not so much to correct you as to let out some steam. I cannot for the life of me understand why it is so difficult for you to simply use his name.

          But I suppose “last year´s winner” is an improvement over “the pastry Dane” 🙂

  6. Certainly a number of interesting points coming out of the race, as our host has set out. But nothing likely to worry Pogacar for the Tour, if he’s able to maintain anything like his Giro form.

  7. The Rodriguez/Pidcock dynamic for the Tour could be very interesting, especially as Netflix may add fuel to the fire tonight. Pidcock is sounding more and more confidant in every interview. Only he knows what his numbers are whilst Rodriguez is definitely improving.

    • I agree. I am not sure what is going on with Pidcock @ Ineos. It will be interesting to see how he does in Switzerland. On GT’s podcast he’s rarely talked about. I always think that when he races his other team members are often missing when needed at the punchy end of stages.
      For me his form looks good this year.

    • How tantalising. Is there some kind of ‘beef’ between the two? Or just looking ahead to a likely dual leadership role at the Tour?

      I’m interested to see how Pidcock goes in the Tour, I can’t quite imagine him as a top GC contender, especially when combined with the very different discipline of XCO this year. But as commented on before, he tends to achieve his aims and I greatly admire the breadth of his achievements. The same has to be said for Rodriguez in regard to an GC challenge. Although he seems like a more traditional GC guy it will be a real test to make that step on to the podium.

      But there is a proven GC rider on the proposed Ineos Tour team, and I’m not talking about Thomas. I would love to see Bernal as the winner of a ‘let the road’ decide policy. If he can get back to his best (and he seems to be on track), he’d be my pick to rival Pog/Rog/Vin.

  8. So, by my calculations, Roglic only won this race because of time bonuses (he got 10 seconds of bonuses more than Jorgenson and beat him by 8 seconds overall).
    Do others not find it dissatisfying that a stage race is won not by the person who rode it quickest (Jorgenson), but by the rider who won more somewhat arbitrary bonuses?
    Should a stage race not be based on the overall racing rather than being good at sprinting at the top of a mountain?
    These bonuses also encourage riders to not attack early if, like Roglic, they can take up to 10 seconds with a sprint at the line. For me, that’s less interesting racing.

    • Since the time bonuses are known to exist in advance, they figure in everyone’s racing strategy. We cannot know if Jorgenson would have won without them, since both he and Roglic would have raced differently.

        • I could live – and enjoy the racing – without time bonuses, but if winning a race by sprinting is something we appreciate and see as an essential part of road cycling, I can´t see how winning mountain stages in similar fashion and by extension a stage race should be dissatisfying.

          Granted, there should be stages that would give other type of GC riders and their teams to outrace “the top of the mountain sprinters” using their strengths and tactical guile.

  9. So is Froome officially off the TDF squad? I thought I saw he was doing the tour according to PCS before the Dauphine but now he is off, but I can’t see when he was removed. I was hoping to see him at least do well in a breakaway this past week, but alas. And since IPT has improved immensely in the past two years, it’s hard to justify Froome even with the publicity angle. I think IPT has lots of potential tour stage winners at this point.

    • How much good publicity can Israel be getting from a bike team?
      It would be extraordinary for them to get around France without facing any protest. And very disappointing.

      • They’ve beat any previous standard for criminal sponsoring in cycling, at least post WWII. It could be seen coming, sadly enough, although they also were able to beat some of the more extreme expectations.
        Of course some corporate sponsor might have even worse figures in terms of indirect (albeit well known) consequences of their actions, think fuel & oil, Coca Cola and other food and drink and probably cars, too… but in terms of intended direct effects of one’s action, there’s little competition.

        • I wonder how the person who called me an anti-Semite for criticising the existence of an ‘Israel’ team sponsor now feels.
          Of course, they ignored the fact that I’d also criticised the teams of Bahrain, Kazakhstan and UAE – because that’s how liberals and the right wing in the UK have been trained. I did point that out at the time, but my reply to them was deleted – but not their comment calling me a bigot. Seem to remember similar accusations being made when some boycotted the Giro’s start in Israel.

          • Fair point, Anonymous. I’m still irked by that, as I showed, but what I wrote really has nothing to do with this.
            Coppi1949, we don’t know if the state of Israel puts any money into the team because the state of Israel is notoriously secretive (involving itself massively in the politics of other countries, being the only nuclear country to not allow weapons inspections, etc.). But we do know that the team is owned by someone who seeks to promote Zionism – hence the name of the team. (Adams now resides in Israel.)

        • Please. please all, keep politics out of sport – all sport and all politics.
          Sponsorship money and support gives young people the opportunities to chase their dreams. Without it no dreams would be possible, and we as riders’/supporters/fans would be all the poorer.

          • “Please. please all, keep politics out of sport – all sport and all politics.”
            +1 Hate the team/sponsor but like the rider or vice-versa.
            Sportwashing’s a massive issue and one for another time/forum?

          • Firstly, genocide is not ‘politics’.
            Secondly, this – and, indeed, politics – should ‘infringe’ on everything. Otherwise, people and the issue are being silenced (or cancelled).
            Thirdly, cycling is nowhere near as important as this, including young people’s dreams. (Tens of thousands of young people have been killed.)
            Fourthly, without the sponsorship of despotic nations, cycling would still go on. It doesn’t need that money.
            Fifthly, if you can’t mention sportswashing on a sports forum, where can you mention it? If it is a massive issue, why must it be ignored or non-mentioned?

          • Cycling put politics in its sport when it allowed these nations – or any nation – to sponsor teams. As did the Giro d’Italia when it started in Israel. Cycling can’t have it both ways.

  10. Larry, I’m with you re: considering to do away with TT special equipments, but I’m not sure that it’s much of a valid point in a thread which is about Remco, who would probably receive a big advantage from such a decision (and rightly so), as his aero qualities are proven also on normal bikes, both in mass starts and ITTs. Ganna, to name one, would struggle more under those conditions. Which doesn’t take anything away from him as an athlete IMHO (he adapted to current rules).

    • But don’t they encourage a rider to WIN a stage or liven-up what the organizer thinks might be a dull portion of a race? I resist going back to the “you don’t know, because you don’t know” argument but my guess is you probably haven’t organized any sporting event beyond a card game, just like you’ve never pinned on a number in a bike race. Pro cycling needs a lot of things fixed, but IMHO time bonuses isn’t a problem that needs addressing.

    • Ooops! Previous comment to JEvans.
      I agree about small guys and chrono stuff…I’ve said for years the aero crap makes everyone too close, which was the reference to Evenepoel being “slippery” in the air…IMHO he’d be more slippery than a big guy on a normal bike so his massive engine might help him even more. He’s still gotta learn how to stay upright though 🙂

      • Actually, an Hinault/Indurain era kind of TdF course, where the TTs would have to be ridden on normal bikes, would make a very, very exciting contest between Remco and the much less aero Vingegaard and Pogi, who are still much superior over big mountain passes anyway (and I doubt Remco can cope with 3 alpine stages over 240km in a row, followed by a 60k flat TT). Throw in 30s/1minute bonuses per stage (giving Van Aert 3 minutes before the mountains), and you would really have a spicy yet deep race. Grand Tours could be much richer, really.

        • I think it would be interesting to make every second Vuelta significantly less mountainous. It used to be back in the day, so who could complain? This would also make the Vuelta different from the other two, rather than just being ‘the third grand tour’.

          • But why “less” of something instead of “more” of something else, in order to strike the same optimal balance? Totally against “less”. If you think the Vuelta is unbalanced, then you should ask for more TT and more bonuses for the GC-relevant fast guys. Methinks.

  11. No problem JEvans…I can just scroll past anything with your name on it, same as I do with Anon Y. Mous.
    Just leave my name out of your posts and we’re all good.
    Vive LeTour!

  12. Well, well. I never thought the self-claimed curmudgeon that is Larry T and I would almost find common ground. It’s a funny old world is bike racing!
    This is an excellent blog courtesy of our host INRNG, concerned about cycling. In polite conversation I was always taught that there are two subject areas that are best avoided. Politics and Religion. That advice rings as true today as when I first heard the advice from my dear parents.
    No one here knows my politics or religious beliefs. Did I hear ‘good job’! Why should they? and what would that knowledge add to any discussion on bike racing? Have your opinions, there are plenty of other social media outlets that welcome views of this nature, but please, this is surely NOT the place to express them

      • I can see that point, but when Froome chose to take these millions from this team, he opened up this discussion.
        You can’t have a team called ‘Ineos’ and not allow criticism of Ineos. Same applies to Cofidis, Israel, whoever.

    • The reason we are told to avoid talking about politics is so that people do not learn from each other. That way, their views can be controlled by the powerful via their mainstream media. Young people are less in thrall to the MSM, which is why they are showing the rest of us the way on this issue with their student protests, etc.
      No-one has the right to control/silence the political views of others, in any area of society.

  13. There is a time and place for everything J Evans.
    This is neither the time nor place! Our host, if not readers will be becoming exasperated.
    If you want to talk politics, there are thousands of open and better outlets to express political views than on a cycling enthusiasts blog.

  14. I’ll close the comments as have been out on recon for the Tour stages and have limited bandwidth – literally one bar of 3G in a bar right now – and few will come to agreement over Middle-Eastern diplomacy via the comments section of a sports blog, it’s much more likely to create argument and distract from reviewing the Dauphiné… which was the aim of this post.

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