Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Criterium du Dauphine: TT's, GC's And Tomorrows Summit Finish

We all knew that today’s Time Trial would be the first time this years Dauphine saw a shake up in the General Classification but the relatively flat 32.5 kilometre course has thrown up some surprising results and though there are some tough days to come it looks as though a few race favourites are no longer in contention…  
Tony Martin was always going to win this time trial though a recent bout of illness made things a little less clear cut before the start of the stage – no matter as he finished a respectable 47 seconds ahead of second placed (and now race leader) Rohan Dennis (Garmin Sharp) and 52 seconds ahead of Chris Froome.
In fact Sky had 4 riders in the top 10 on the stage and now have four riders in the top 6 for the overall classification with Geraint Thomas, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Richie Porte and of course Chris Froome all looking very strong – in fact as I mentioned in my Dauphine Preview a Sky one-two is now very possible by the end of the week if Richie Porte manages to stick with his team leader.
Those not having a great day included two main favourites in the shape of Valverde and Rodriguez who both find themselves over 2:40 back but more interestingly today was the Performance of Alberto Contador who rolled in 3:37 back on the stage having been overtaken rather embarrassingly by his one-time domestique Richie Porte. Contador now finds himself 2:50 behind the race leader and even if he decides to test his legs in the mountains he’s unlikely to take that amount of time back and salvage a decent GC result.
He blamed his allergies for his poor performance but he’s been struggling to find any of his really good form at all this year though nothing remotely as obvious as this. In fact by anybody else’s standards he’s not been that far off in recent TT’s though it’s obvious he isn’t the time trialist he used to be:
At the Tour de San Luis in January, he lost 57 seconds in 19km to Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge). He lost 30 seconds in 9.2km to Tony Martin at Tirreno-Adriatico in March, and then he lost over a minute in 24km to Martin at the Tour of the Basque Country.

He started the season 3 kilos overweight with a view to building form and shedding pounds to reach peak fitness for the Tour – of course his performance in the Dauphine will not define his Tour de France form and indeed if he has timed everything perfectly then he could look like a different rider in July. He did remain up-beat after the stage though saying he's not worried about time losses to Froome.

So what next? This:
If the roads have been lumpy so far then they start to enter a whole new league tomorrow. Riders tackle three categorised times before reach the Hors Category summit finish of Valmorel. The 12.7km climb averages around 7% but rarely drops below 6% though it’s worth mentioning that it’s a consistent rise of the type Sky like to set a tempo rather than a climb with a lot of changes in gradients that can knock riders out of rhythm.
Rohan Dennis finds himself in the leaders jersey at just 23 years old and he’s unlikely to give it up without a fight even with tomorrows stage profile – he’s quite a good climber, winning the mountains classification in last years Tour down Under and a steady climb like this might just suit his obviously good time trial abilities (he was second in last years U23 UCI Time Trial Championships) if the main favourites stay together and Sky control the pace – if there are fireworks at the front from the likes of Contador and Valverde then he might struggle to keep yellow on his shoulders.
Contador might still be struggling from today and decide to take his chance a little later in the week but if he’s feeling fresh expect him to test his legs here and it could cause some fractions in the General Classification, especially if Valverde and Rodriguez are on a good day too. It’s likely to be the first time we see the big Tour favourites tackle a very strong Sky train this year so even without constant attacks it will still make for entertaining viewing….

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