Criterium du Dauphiné 2021 – Stage 5 preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Criterium du Dauphiné 2021 – Stage 5 preview

By David Hunter

Saint-Chamond > Saint-Vallier 171km

I like the look of this one.

Coming just after the TT, and just before the big weekend, means that many riders will sense a chance to cause a surprise. With a wall climb coming just 13km from the end, who’s going to control this stage?

The Wall

The opening kilometre averages 13%, it really is a wall. Once over this section it gets a little easier, but it then kicks up again after 1.6km of the climb. The crest of the climb is just 11km from home. This climb demands attacks, we better see some.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any Street View available for the climb, which I hate. Without being able to look at the hill it’s hard to predict just how hard it’s going to be. The numbers make it sound tough; I hope it is.

One thing to note is the climb has a headwind, which will make it very hard for riders to attack out of the bunch. This is great news for any of the quicker finishers who would normally struggle when the GC boys up the pace on a climb.


Warm and cloudy. The wind is around 15km/h and comes from the south. We do have some exposed sections in the final 50km. This should keep the pace high and the bunch nervous, but I don’t think we’ll see echelons. Once on the final climb the wind will be a headwind of 20km/h. Not great news for those wanting to attack.


The stage begins with 9km at 4%, perfect for those wanting to force a strong breakaway. With just only 2360m of climbing in the stage you would expect the sprint teams to control, but will any of them will back their fast men to survive the final climb?

This means the breakaway has another chance to take the win, Bora do not need to chase, neither do Ineos and with three protected riders they must be careful with their domestiques. Will another team want to chase and set up a stage win? Time will tell, but I think the break has a chance.

Movistar might consider controlling this one as Valverde looks in good shape, but just like Ineos they have three protected riders. Coming to a race like the Dauphiné with just four domestiques isn’t ideal for chasing down breakaways, if Movistar chase, they’ll also need some help to bring it back for the final climb.

Astana are after the yellow jersey, Lutsenko is just 1 second behind Pöstlberger, that shouldn’t be a problem considering the climb at the end of the stage. I don’t see the Austrian hanging on, but Astana will have to keep a close eye on Asgreen, he could steal the yellow jersey from Lutsenko. Astana don’t need to waste energy chasing the break, they can wait until the final climb.

If the break is caught, the final run for home will be very tactical. The climb is tough, but I would still expect around 20-30 riders to survive, which means attacks galore in the final 10km. The teams with numbers will have an advantage, which should be good news for Ineos, Astana and Movistar.


The bunch will be small heading towards the finish, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s technical or not. We have a couple of roundabouts which only have one side open, before a big turn with 1km to go. Then there is a left turn with 500 to go, which leads onto an interesting little ramp. Before the road bends round to the right the road does kick up to 3% for around 50-100m, which then leads into a gentle turn. Timing the launch of the sprint will be tricky.


Alejandro Valverde – the great man has been looking in good form this week. It did seem that his sprint had slowed down a bit, but he was fast enough in stage 2. The steep climb won’t worry him, and he should be one of the fastest left in the bunch. This is a big chance to take another win.

Geraint Thomas – he got the TT all wrong, starting too fast and fading in the hills. That would have been a big disappointment for the Welshman, but he’ll bounce back in this stage. Ineos should have Thomas, Porte and Geoghegan Hart in the front group after the final climb, this gives them attacking options in the closing kilometres.

Wilco Kelderman – always nice and consistent, he should be aiming for the podium.

Kasper Asgreen – the big man has a fast finish, but will he survive the climb? If the GC men really go for it, he could struggle, but the headwind will help. If he’s in the mix for the sprint he should be challenging for the win.

Alexey Lutsenko – the opening part of his season was very poor, but in recent days he looked more like his old self, then he goes and smashes the TT. His result today will go down as one of the surprises of the season, he must have amazing legs just now. He will see this a chance to take the yellow jersey, and maybe another stage win. If a select group gets away, I would expect him to be in it.

Sonny Colbrelli – in the form of his life. The climb is tough but given the way he’s climbing I wouldn’t be surprised to see him survive it. The headwind will obviously help, but he needs to start the climb at the head of the bunch, giving himself some sliding room. If he does make it over in the front group, he’ll need Haig and Teuns to control the rest of the stage, something they’ve struggled to do this week.

Alex Aranburu – technically speaking he’s a better climber than Colbrelli, he does have a good chance of hanging with the climbers. Think back to the Basque Country, Aranburu was climbing better than many climbers, if he still has that form, he must be considered for this stage. If he gets over the climb and has Izagirre and Lutsenko in the front group I would expect them to control for a sprint. However, Aranburu did crash today, we’ll have to wait and see how he recovers.

Tim Wellens – breakaway hopeful number 1(or maybe a late attack).

Anthony Perez – breakaway hopeful number 2.

Sven Erik Bystrøm – breakaway hopeful number 3.

Oli Naesen – breakaway hopeful number 4.

Prediction Time

Will anyone chase the break? Bahrain for Colbrelli? Astana for Lutsenko? Movistar for Valverde? The stage is an easy one to control, we only have 2360m of climbing, but it needs someone to take control and not leave up to Bora.

If it does come back together, the headwind on the final climb will kill the attacks and could help someone with a fast finish stay in the front group.

Given the relatively easy stage I think someone will step forward and control the break, the route doesn’t look like a classic breakaway stage to me. I think we’ll see a reduced sprint and Sonny Colbrelli will take the win; I cannot ignore his current form.

David Hunter

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