By David Hunter
Frontenex – La Rosière 110km
As usual, the Dauphiné rewards riders who attend this race with a sneak preview of a Tour de France stage. This time it’s stage 11 which has been replicated.
The riders are faced with one of those short stages that fans love, but most cyclists hate! We have 110km of racing and 4187m of climbing. That is insane.
The hardest climbs are the opening two, both of which are given HC classification. Both climbs are very similar, around 13km at 8%. Col du Pré crests with 51km remaining, which could be a problem for the long range attackers. Once over the top, the riders have to climb the cat 2 climb, Cormet de Roselend, which is 5.7km at 6.5%. A 20km descent follows, which does contain a ridiculously technical section, before we start the final climb of the day.
17.6km at 5.8%, but we have a very challenging 6km stretch, which will be a real test for tired legs.
Very similar to the last few days. It will be hot, with a small chance of rain. The wind is light and it will be a tailwind for most of the stage.
Your guess is as good as mine!
Geraint Thomas has a commanding lead on GC, but he could be tested in this type of stage, but by who? Caruso is 2nd on GC, but not good enough to seriously threaten Thomas. Alaphilippe is 4th, but this is too hard for him.
Then we have Adam Yates and Romain Bardet. Yates is 1:18 down and Bardet a further 35 seconds back, which is quite a lot of time to make up. They will look at this stage and wonder how to isolate Thomas. With two big early climbs, this is where they must try and destroy the peloton. Today we saw both Kwiatkowski and Moscon in difficulty, with Geoghegan Hart the man to help Thomas in the closing kilometres. I think the other teams will sense a chance of putting Sky under pressure, especially AG2R.
Pierre Latour is the ace in the hole. He currently sits in 13th place, 2:24 behind Thomas. He is close enough to threaten the yellow jersey and he must sacrifice himself for the good of his team leader. He should be instructed to attack on the first climb and go very deep. This could blow Sky to pieces and isolate Thomas. The only way Thomas blows is if he has to shoulder some of the early work.
Yates is in a strong position, but his team aren’t good enough to challenge Sky. Yates will sit on the wheels and hope that others can do the damage, leaving him to take the rewards. Really, it’s going to be a battle between Sky and AG2R.
The early break normally doesn’t stand a chance in a short stage, but a late move can often take the stage. Riders need to be patient and attack when the domestiques are all used up. If you are not a genuine threat to the leader, you will get some space. You then need to be very strong to hold off the chasing bunch. It’s complicated, but achievable.
Dan Martin – after a great win today, he’ll be full of confidence. After a disappointing season, you’d be amazed at how much a single win can do for a rider’s confidence. Going into this stage, he knows that his finish is better than his rivals. Martin does not have a strong team, he’ll need to hope that other teams are interested in making this a GC fight. He now sits 2:26 behind Geraint Thomas, I doubt he’ll get the same freedom he got today.
Geraint Thomas – sits with a commanding lead and looks the strongest climber in the race. Team Sky will be delighted with his performance, but they’ll still be a little concerned about the next two stages. Thomas has now proven himself in the mountains, but can he cope with the intense stages? His team is strong, but today showed that they are not unbeatable. If Thomas can survive this stage, without losing time, he’ll be a happy man.
Adam Yates – he seems to be growing into the race and is a serious contender for the yellow jersey. He will hope that AG2R make the race very hard and isolate Geraint Thomas. It will then be up to Yates to see if he can drop the Welshman, but this won’t be easy.
Romain Bardet – would have been disappointed that he couldn’t follow Thomas today. Before the race started I picked Bardet as my favourite and I still believe he has a chance. His team need to ride a perfect race and isolate Thomas, if this happens Bardet will have a chance of doing something special. The climbs all look good for him and the descents will also be important sections of the race. Remember that AG2R are excellent at going downhill and I expect them to try something as soon as the road goes down. The French public would dearly love a home victory.
Marc Soler – remember his attack to win Paris-Nice? This is another chance for him to do something similar. He’s not looked on top form, but Soler is an attacking rider and if he gets his timing right, he could pick up another big win.
Warren Barguil – boy, does he need a result! Will we ever see the 2017 Tour de France version of Warren Barguil? Was that a freak performance? After the opening stages of this race, there are more questions than answers. It would help if he responded by doing something special in this stage.
Thomas looks too strong. The GC teams will ensure the break is caught, but I think we could see a little surprise. On the final climb, Thomas will ensure that Bardet and Yates are marked, which should allow Dan Martin to take another stage.
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