Critérium du Dauphiné 2018 – Stage 7 Preview

By David Hunter

Moutiers – Saint Gervais Mont Blanc 135.5km

Final day.

The race ends with another firecracker of a stage. We have 135.5km and 5 categorised climbs, which totals 4222m of climbing. After three hard days in the saddle, we will have a number of tired legs and some riders will be in danger of blowing completely.

Unlike today, the hardest climbs come at the end of this stage. The first couple of cat 2 climbs are very long, but with average gradients of around 6%, it’s very unlikely we’ll see any of the GC riders getting into difficulty.

The open climb is quite inconsistent and some riders will struggle to find a rhythm.

The 2nd climb is also inconsistent and it includes some steep sections. There are points where riders could try a long range attack.

We do have a number of technical descents and Team Sky will have to be very careful as AG2R could take to the front at any point.

Finale

We’ve been here before, Chris Froome was the winner back in 2015. Please take note of Côte des Amerands, it might only be 2.7km in length, but it will blow the peloton apart. If a team really pushes the pace, the front group could be down to 10 for the climb to Mont Blanc. 7km at 7.7% is tough, but the final 2km doesn’t drop below 9%. It is a climb where you need to watch energy levels and try to save something back for the finish.

Tactics

We’ll probably see a repeat of today. AG2R did exactly what they had to do, but Geraint Thomas wasn’t to be broken. Will that mean they give up? Of course not! Romain Bardet sits 2:01 behind Geraint Thomas, but that won’t stop his team trying to destroy the stage. Remember back to last year, it is possible for the leader to experience a bad day.

Now that Pierre Latour isn’t a genuine contender, they will have to adjust tactics. They have two options, do something similar to today, or try and send multiple riders up the road on the first climb. Sky looked vulnerable today, I hope AG2R try to send riders up the road.

Mitchelton-Scott are the other team with a big interest. Adam Yates is 1:29 behind Thomas, but he doesn’t look in top form, despite sitting in 2nd place. The Aussie squad do have riders who could get up the road, but they did that today and it didn’t really work.

Breakaway Hopes

It all depends on the GC teams. Sky won’t chase the break, if it doesn’t contain multiple riders from their rival teams. I think we’ll see a fierce battle to join the move, as it has a decent chance of success.

Weather

Very similar conditions to most of the week, with lots of sunshine and a chance of rain.

Contenders

Geraint Thomas – looks very strong in the yellow jersey. This has been a breakthrough race for Thomas, he looks to have convinced his bosses that he is ready to lead the team in July, incase Froome isn’t allowed to ride. He doesn’t have to take any risks in this stage, but he knows he’ll come under attack. With the talented Tao Geoghegan Hart by his side, he looks unstoppable, I really hope the youngster has earned a spot in the Tour squad. Taking yellow and a stage win is a little greedy, but Thomas still hasn’t won a big mountain stage in his career. If the chance is there, he’ll take it.

Romain Bardet – he’s been good, but not good enough. As we all know, most riders started this race a little way off their best form, as the Tour starts one week later this year. Bardet is certainly a little way off his best form, but he’ll be saving that for the Tour. In this final stage, he would like a win to boost his confidence, but that will be difficult.

Dan Martin – his good form continues. You could see how frustrated he was today, when the GC group wouldn’t work to chase Bilbao. The other riders knew that Martin had the best sprint, so they leaned on him. Going into the final stage, it will be interesting to see how he plans to combat this. He sits 29 seconds behind Bardet and will sense a chance of taking a place on the podium. The final climb is one that suits his characteristics.

Adam Yates – still not quite there. Of the big four riders, he is the one that is a little back from the rest, even though he’s in second place on GC. A win would be a big surprise.

Thomas De Gendt – made the break today, but it was doomed. Despite his undoubted brilliance, I don’t think the Belgian is suited to these shorter stages. He could make me eat those words tomorrow!

Edward Ravasi – I’ve been really impressed by the Italian in this race. The talented climber is now starting to look like the man who finished 2nd to Gaudu in the 2016 Tour de l’Avenir. That year he finished 5th on Mont Blanc in the Giro Mont Blanc, he knows these roads well and he’ll hope to make the morning break.

Nicolas Edet – it’s been really pleasing to see the Frenchman in such good form. As I have mentioned previous, Cofidis rarely win mountain stages, but he’ll keep trying. He’ll aim to be in the morning move and see if he can hang tough with the climbers from the bigger teams.

Gianluca Brambilla – can he do a Bilbao? Both riders arrived here from the Giro, with Bilbao having a tough day on Friday, only to take the win on Saturday. Brambilla had a tough day today, can he follow that up with a win?

Prediction Time

AG2R to chase down the break and set up a GC finish. The strongest two climbers will get away from the rest, with Dan Martin taking the stage and Geraint Thomas the yellow jersey.

*Overall Preview

David Hunter

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