Criterium du Dauphine 2015 – Stage 7 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Criterium du Dauphine 2015 – Stage 7 Preview

By David Hunter

Montmelian – Saint Gervais Mont Blanc 155km

dauphine7

155km, with 5 cat 1 climbs and a cat 3 climb. Jesus Christ!!! What were the organisers thinking? From the point of a view of a fan, what a stage!

If you want to prove a point, pre-TDF, this is the stage to do it on. Team Sky will be licking their lips. We’ve already seen that they are the dominant team, on Thursday, and want to properly test out which riders should go to the Tour. Wout Poels seems a safe bet, but some of the squad must be a little worried. They must deliver today!

dauphine71

All the cat 1 climbs are difficult and are worthy of that classification. This is an extreme test of climbing ability and only the best will survive. Some will be looking for the bus, on the very first climb.

forclaz

The Forclaz, is the hardest climb of the stage. It contains 3km above 10% and is a real test. The riders will be glad that it appears early in the day.

croix fry

Next on the menu, is 11.3km at 7%. Longer than the previous climb, but a little easier. We then head for home, with a very challenging final 20km.

First of all it’s 2.7km at 11.2%, then a short descent, before the final battle of the day.

montblanc

It’s difficult for me to put into words, just how hard this is. We have 2km at 13%, a little flat and descending, before another 7km at nearly 8%. The climb to Mont Blanc, gets harder, all the way. We could see some massive time gaps. Yes, massive!

With an 8 man team, you can’t afford to ride like Astana, at the Giro. The early climbs have to be done conservatively, as you gradually build the pace. Team Sky are masters at this and will want another chance to run through their mountain train, before the Tour. I’ve been impressed by Boswell and Poels but Kennaugh and Roche, still have something to prove. Team Sky will be taking Porte, Thomas and probably Henao to the Tour. There is every chance of Rowe and Stannard joining them. That doesn’t leave many spaces left on the bus, or motorhome! The pressure is on Roche and Kennaugh, let’s see what they can do. Kennaugh missed out in 2014, he’ll be devastated if it happens again.

I can’t see another team dominating this stage. After today’s surprises, Nibali is in yellow. Those that watched him on Thursday, must believe that he won’t be able to hold onto this jersey. Why Van Garderen allowed him to escape, is a question that should be asked. BMC, clearly, weren’t strong enough. He has 29 seconds to Rui Costa, 30 to Valverde, 35 to Yates, 42 to Van Garderen, 57 to Intxausti and 1:21 to Froome. Given that the top 3, were all dropped on a cat 2 climb, it’s going to be hard to hold on. However, they have clearly found some form! That is one of the interesting moments in the race. Can three riders who were dropped on a short climb, two days before, cope with this stage?

Yates is a massive threat. He’s climbing very well and is allowed far too much freedom. He cannot be allowed up the road. The tactics are going to be fascinating.

How the final climb will develop, is something we’ve seen many times. Team Sky domestiques will turn themselves inside out, gradually increasing the pace and destroying the bunch. When the last man is done, Froome will attack whatever is left of his rivals. He would like to take enough time, to claim the yellow jersey. This is now going to be difficult, but not impossible.

The huge number of climbs could be good for the morning break, but they need to be strong climbers. The attitude of Team Sky will determine if they make it or not. It would be a great stage for a rider like De Marchi, but he’s not here. It might also be good for Riblon, Westra, Busche, Serpa, Mate, Edet, Mendes and Craddock.

Today was a perfect example of how this season is developing. No stage is easy, anymore! The racing was bordering on the ridiculous, very similar to under 21 races. In these events, we get attacking all the time. On the pro tour, the racing is usually more structured, but recent races have started to prove otherwise. If teams want to do the same, on this stage, the peloton, could be down to around 20 riders, after the first climb.

That’s fine for the GC riders, but not everyone else. Day, after day, of attacking racing, does not go down well with the peloton. The riders who form the bus, would like easier days, but fans want action! I think we’ll see another crazy day.

We’ve seen plenty of attacks from Tim Wellens. He’s clearly in good form, but has been a little unlucky. I would expect to see him in the break, looking to collect mountain points and the KOM jersey. If the break stays away and he fights for it, that would be a bonus.

Prediction Time

Sky will dominate and Froome needs a big performance. I see him taking the stage, but I’m unsure if he’ll take yellow. I would love to see Simon Yates, take the jersey.

David Hunter

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