Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Stage 5 Preview and Picks 2013 Critérium du Dauphiné

Alberto Contador (center) got squeezed out today by good rides from Chris Froome and Tony Martin

The General Classification got a thorough restructuring today in the 2013 Critérium du Dauphiné. Reigning world time trial champion Tony Martin gathered his strength after a couple days of stomach ailments, and duly treated the fans to an all too familiar dominating win over the rest of the field. The flat 32.5-Kilometer course took the wind out of many contenders’ sails, altering the leader board considerably. Garmin’s young Tasmanian talent, Rohan Dennis performed very well to finish second on the stage and take the leader’s jersey off of Europcar’s David Veilleux. Chris Froome is well poised in second place overall, just five seconds off of Dennis’ lead.

The four current jersey holders, clockwise from top left:
Dennis, Damusea, Dennis and Meersman
Just about all of Froome’s main competitors for the General Classification conceded two or more minutes to the Kenyan native today. Sammy Sanchez trails him by 2:30 now, and Rolland, Valverde, Van Den Broeck, Contador and Rodriguez are further behind, but still within 3:00 of Froome. Three minutes is not small change. We will see if anyone can take any of that time back in the mountains.

Speaking of mountains, they arrive tomorrow for stage 5 to Valmorel. A rolling first half of Thursday’s 139-km route gives way to about 50 kilometers of mostly flat terrain, before the first real mountaintop finish of the race. The final climb to Valmorel begins after about 126 kilometers of racing. The climb is 12.7 kms long, averages about a 7 % gradient overall, and remains relatively constant throughout. That means a steady, measured effort with ambitious attacks probably coming just in the last two or three kms. It’s a chance for yesterday’s sub-par performers to regain some lost time, but that will not be an easy task against a very fit Chis Froome.

Profile of Stage 5 to Valmorel

Stage 5, 139 kms, Grésy-sur-Aix to Valmorel [MTF]:

Mountain Passes & Hills:

·       Km 25.5 - Côte de Trévignin - 4.4 km climb at 6.6 % - Category 3
·       Km 67.0 - Col du Frêne - 1.9 km climb at 6 % - Category 4
·       Km 111.0 - Côte de la Croix - 2.3 km climb at 4.1 % - Category 4
·       Km 139.0 - Montée de Valmorel - 12.7 km climb at 7 % - Category HC

I don’t think the GC contenders will want to let a break stay away to the finish; I believe several riders will hope to attack Froome on the top of the mountain and try to isolate him.

Stage 5 final climb profile

Popular picks: Chris Froome (Sky), Joaquin Rodriguez (KAT), Alejandro Valverde (MOV): so far it’s Froome who has seemed strongest.

Dark-horse pick: Leopold König (TNE): he won the climbing stage to Mount Diablo in the Tour of California a couple weeks ago, and is riding in the top-10 after a good time trial.

My pick: I would not be surprised to see Richie Porte (Sky-currently 5th on GC) or Mick Rogers (TST-currently 11th) continue their good form and take this stage. Rogers is coming off a second place overall finish at the Tour of California, and Porte is currently 5th in the world rankings this year, and has been riding strong all season, with stage wins in the Tour of the Basque Country, Criterium International, and Paris Nice (where he also won the overall).

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