Critérium du Dauphiné 2016 – Stage 5 Preview
By David Hunter
La Ravoire – Vaujany 140km
Here starts the GC battle.
This is the first of three stages that will determine the winner of the Dauphine. All three stages have a few things in common:- they are short, they include mountains and they should be great to watch.
This stage has 5 climbs in the opening 59km. Action packed! Things then settle down until the very end of the day.
It might only be a cat 2 climb but we will see some gaps on GC. It contains three very difficult kilometres and it will tease out plenty of attacks. At only 6.4km it’s not very long, so expect attacks all the way up. A good tactical brain is a bonus, as is teammates to chase down dangerous riders.
The beginning of the stage is difficult, but I can’t see anyone attacking on the cat 1 climb, it’s just too far out. This is all about the final climb. Being only 6.4km, most of the big teams should have teammates left far up the hill. Take Tinkoff as an example, they have Hansen, Kiserlovski, Valgren and Kreuziger. That means Contador should have help to chase some moves.
The problem is the 3rd kilometre of the climb. An average gradient of 10.8% could see teammates get into difficulty and leave the team leader exposed for the second half of the climb. That shouldn’t be a problem for Sky as Landa and Henao will survive with Chris Froome. Sky do look like the team with all the options.
The length of the climb should also see Etixx remain in contention. They have Dan Martin and Alaphilippe, both riders are well suited to short hills. Etixx have tried to animate the race and I expect this to continue. They will hope for a little freedom as Contador, Froome and Porte mark each other.
All the smaller teams will be hoping to benefit from this. Tinkoff have made it clear that they will happily give the jersey away, that increases the hopes of a surprise winner.
Chris Froome – despite losing some time in the prologue, Froome will start the stage as the favourite. Riding for the strongest team is a big bonus, but we still need to see exactly where his form is. Losing time in the prologue would have hurt his pride, and it certainly indicates that Contador is climbing better than him. Can Froome strike back?
Alberto Contador – with a stage win in the bag, Contador just has to follow wheels. Both Porte and Froome are big threats to him, but he’ll hope that Froome also wants to chase Porte.
Richie Porte – I must admit, I’ve been very impressed by Porte this week. Word is he’s down to 58kg, which should make him a serious contender for the title. He’s been very attentive in the bunch too, something which is usually a sign of his good form. The length of this climb is good news for him, it certainly suits his characteristics. A win here would cement his place as co-leader for the Tour.
Romain Bardet – his crash on Tuesday should allow him a little more freedom. He was complaining of a sore back, so it will depend on his recover. If feeling good, he has what it takes to win this stage.
Adam Yates – I’m a big fan of Adam Yates. Never afraid to attack, he rides with style. After a good prologue, he is a threat to the main riders here. Getting freedom might be difficult, but if he sniffs an opportunity, he will attack.
Sebastian Reichenbach – another rider I love watching! I have a feeling that Pinot is not on top form. If that is the case, Reichenbach, will be allowed to attack. The Swiss rider is a terrific climber and has excelled this season, riding for Pinot. It would be nice to see him riding for himself.
Tony Gallopin – was so unlucky not to win on Tuesday. He is here to win stages and this is his best chance, looking at the next 3 stages. Can climb very well and steep sections are not a concern for him. Will look to attack early and hope to take the others by surprise.
Much better than in recent days. We have a number of good climbers sitting way down on GC, so they could get a big gap early in the stage. The amount of early climbing is also terrific news for the break. Riders like Omar Fraile, Lilian Calmejane, Thomas De Gendt, Ilia Koshevoy and Carter Jones could prosper on a day like this.
Keep An Eye On
Pierre Rolland – I have a feeling that Rolland is nearing his brilliant best. When on form, there aren’t many riders who can match his climbing ability. It would be great to see a bit of form before the Tour.
Valerio Conti – yes, I’ll mention him again. Finished 9th on Tuesday, his form really is good just now. Needs to attack early to stand any chance of getting away.
I think the break will stay away. I’m looking for a climber that has a good sprint and is explosive, so I’ll go with Omar Fraile.
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