Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) took his first WorldTour victory since 2013 when he powered across the line in the uphill sprint on stage 4 of the Criterium du Dauphiné. Having worked well to stay near the front in the hectic finale, he launched a long sprint and narrowly held off a fast-finishing Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep), with Nacer BouhannI (Cofidis) having to settle for third. The bunch split in the hectic finale and so Chris Froome (Sky) gained nine seconds on Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) who retained the lead.
We have gathered several reactions.
Edvald Boasson Hagen: Now I want to win a stage at the Tour de France
After what has been probably the most difficult week in the African Team's history, with young continental rider Keagan Girdlestone having a life threatening crash in Italy on Sunday, Edvald Boasson Hagen gave the Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka family reason to smile again. Boasson Hagen won stage 4 of the Criterium du Dauphine with a powerful sprint into Belley.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka again turned to Edvald Boasson Hagen as the African Team tried to keep the Norwegian Champion in a good position for the finale.
Nathan Haas and Youcef Reguigui did a sterling job, ensuring they were there to move Boasson Hagen up at key moments before the sprint. Reguigui narrowly missed a crash with 1.5km to go but Haas and Boasson Hagen were unaffected as the riders made their way under the flamme rouge. The final 800m rose steadily to the line and this suited the African Team strongman perfectly.
As Orica-Greenedge led out the sprint, Boasson Hagen patiently waited for the just the right moment to launch his sprint. Even though he had to go a little long, Boasson Hagen's timing couldn't have been more perfect as he hit the front with 150m to go and from there he was able to hold off the fast finishing Julien Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quickstep) to take a fantastic win. As the African Team races every day for the #BicyclesChangeLives campaign, at this point in time #KeepFightingKeagz has also been the driving force behind our performance.
Edvald Boasson Hagen said:
“I had a great position all day. The guys kept me well protected. In the finale I had to go from far. Everyone was getting tired and I managed to stay ahead. I'm very happy. It was the last opportunity for riders like me. I really wanted to do well today.
”I like the Dauphiné because there's a stage for every kind of rider. I've done this race a lot of times. It's been a great season so far and I hope to have a good Tour de France as well. I'm getting better and better towards the Tour de France.
”It's nice to get a win for Dimension Data for Qhubeka and it gives me an opportunity to send my best wishes to Keagan Girdlestone for his recovery.
”It was one of the stages I had targeted. I have felt good for several days even though I had not really had a chance to prove it. It is especially great to win this stage because it was my last chance to win before going into the mountains.
“I am very happy with my season so far. I have won a lot. It's a long time since I have won that much.
"I am preparing for the Tour de France. At the Tour, I know I will have opportunities to win even if I am also here to support Mark Cavendish. It's really great to be in this Dimension Data team as we do not go for the GC. We have many opportunities to shine. But I will not be aiming particularly for the green jersey. If it comes, it will be good but I would like, above all, to win a stage.
"Of all the classics, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix suited me best. The latter is the hardest and the most beautiful. The one I dream about.
"I cannot say it was a mistake to stay at Sky. I was happy. It was a good experience but after 5 years, I wanted to experience something different. At Dimension Data, it's different. We are more focused on winning stages while Sky thought about the overall, even if I could play my card too. Here at Dimension Data, we do not think in that way so there are opportunities for all riders. But I was very happy at Sky.”
Disappointed Julian Alaphilippe: I was too far vack
Starting from Tain l'Hermitage, stage 4 of the Criterium du Dauphiné proved to be a very good one for Etixx – Quick-Step, and the signs were there right from the start, when Maxime Bouet jumped from the peloton and initiated a breakaway, which also included Bryan Nauleau (Direct Energie) and Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert). For Bouet, it was a special day, as he was hailing from Belley, the finishing town, where he grew up and began cycling after playing football until the age of 13.
As the pace wasn't an intense one in the first hour of racing, the escapees gained five minutes, an advantage which began to come down in the second half of the day. Despite the course being a flat one, Bouet attacked on more than one occasion, until he eventually dropped his breakaway companions, with around 15 kilometers remaining. In his second season with Etixx – Quick-Step, the 29-year-old Frenchman left it all on the road and made the sprinters' teams work hard in order to catch him, which they did in the last four kilometers.
Immediately, Etixx – Quick-Step came at the front, Tony Martin and Niki Terpstra doing some big pulls to stretch out the peloton and bring Julian Alaphilippe in a good position for the sprint, which was due to take place on some twisting and turning roads. Eight in the final turn, Alaphilippe powered in the final 200 meters, which were in a slight uphill, and finished behind Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), throwing his bike over the line in an effort which netted him second place, ahead of some really fast men, like Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).
With the white jersey on his shoulders since Sunday's prologue, Julian Alaphilippe showed once again an unbelievable turn of speed, as he made his way through the bunch in the closing kilometer, before sprinting to second, one of his best results of the year in a World Tour race. Thanks to the bonus seconds and the fact that race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) was held up by a crash, Alaphilippe took back some important time in the general classification, and he now lies in fourth, just nine seconds adrift:
"I'm a little bit disappointed, because I was too far down when we entered in that last corner. I managed to come back, but it wasn't enough to really contest the win. Tomorrow, the real climbing starts at the Dauphiné and we are ready to fight and find out how far we can go.
“The last kilometers were really nervous. Everybody wanted to come to the front fighting for a good position. I was in a really good position. My team did a great job for me. It was a good day for the team because Maxime Bouet was in the breakaway.
”In the finale, I think with two kilometers to go, a Cofidis rider crashed just next to me on my right hand side. I hope he's OK. With 1km to go, I was probably a bit too far behind because I had to brake earlier to avoid the crash. It made me launch my sprint a bit too late. I felt I had the power to go faster but Boasson Hagen was very strong so second is a good result.
“I maybe was able to win today but the overall classification is another story. This weekend is gonna be hard.
"The last kilometers were very nervous. I was a bit scared in the end with the crash of a Cofidis rider who was close to me. I told myself that I had to stay well positioned in the top positions for the last kilometer. Maybe I started to sprint too late. I felt good legs and I came fast but there was not enough road to win.
"For the GC we play the card of Daniel Martin. I feel good and everything goes in the best way for now. I do not know if I will stay with Froome and Contador but just to be around him is important. It is a good experience for the future.
"For now my role is to be there with Martin. We must, however, see how I'm going on the climb. If I see that I'm exploding I do not want to fight hard to lose three minutes. Then I prefer to recover and then help Martin in the following stages.
"I'm happy to enjoy the current form.”
Strong Maxime Bouet shows himself on home roads
Despite being part of the breakaway since the flag was dropped, Maxime Bouet still had enough in the tank to forge on from the other two escapees and stay away, motivated by the presence of his family and friends in Belley. One of the day's protagonists, after being at the front for more than 170 kilometers, the Frenchman was pleased with his solo effort and the way he played his card until the very end, even though he didn't get that much-desired victory.
"Today I really wanted to show myself and to do something nice, because we were arriving in the town where I was born and where I joined my first cycling club. I knew the roads and I was hoping for a bigger advantage in the last 20 kilometers, because the narrow and technical roads would have played into my favour. I gave everything, but unfortunately I missed those extra 30-40 seconds which would have helped me to make it. At the end, I did my best and I'm happy. With oozed confidence, I'm now ready to work for Dan and Julian in the next stages", said Bouet, by far the most aggressive rider on stage four.
"I had chills but it's a disappointment not to have stayed away. When I attacked at km 0, with the headwind on the flats, I think many people laughed at us but we managed our effort. For half of the stage, we were at 50% of our resources. I knew the final with small winding roads and I knew it would be difficult for the peloton to organize a chase. I knew it would be close but we would have needed three minutes at the first passage of the line 40 kilometers from the finish. Not just two.
"I wanted to do the show. At 15 kilometers from the finish, we had less than a minute. Brian Holm, my director, told me to give everything on the climb. Veuchelen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) stayed in my wheel but he did not want to help and I went again. I gave everything in the final but it was not enough. I'm getting frustrated, given the number of times I've be caught with 4 or 5 km to go, especially in a stage of the Vuelta last year. It's a lot. Today I had the feeling like when I was amateur.
"I knew the roads well. Some laughed when they saw three riders go on the attack. But in the final 7-8 kilometers when there was still 30 seconds, there was no laughter. I tried to do my best. It's been several times that I have been close. The number of times where I have been caught in the last 3-4km since I turned pro is large. It's infuriating and one day I'll make it in a beautiful way.
“I had checked this stage and I was sure I could have made the world laugh as everybody expected a bunch sprint. But I knew very well that at forty kilometers to go it was small roads, left-right, uphill, very technical, narrow. I knew I could do something on these roads. In my head I had the idea to cross the line with 30 kilometers to go with an advantage of at least 2 minutes or 2.30. Then it would have been possible. In the we had just two minutes. I had made good calculations.
“We played well in the break. We never forced the face. It was first 100 km with the headwind and we never tried to increase the gap. And sometimes that's how you win races. It almost worked. It was a beautiful dream. I started cycling 200 meters from here. In the end I did not feel the pedals. If there had not been this climb 5 kilometers from the finish, I would have been caught at the flamme rouge or maybe even later, like last year in the Vuelta. It's frustrating.
"That was the bad news yesterday that I'm not going to the Tour which was close to my heart with this stage of the Grand Colombier that I know well. I will not get depressed because of it. You have to stay positive and move forward. Anyway, in a team like this, with Kittel who needs a train, there are choices to be made.”
Crash for Boruz Bozic costly for Nacer Bouhanni at the Dauphiné
Nacer Bouhanni, finished 3rd.
"Edvald Boasson Hagen was really strong,” he said. “He launched the sprint and I could not pass him with my last effort. I wanted to be in front four at the bottom of the climb but I was 8th-10th. Borut [Bozic] had to position me. His crash disrupted things, but this is not the most important: it made me very afraid and I am reassured now that I know he's okay. It was very fast, almost 70km/h. The team has worked very well since the beginning of the Dauphiné. It has always been there in the final stages. That's what I remember.”
Lead-out man Geoffrey Soupe said:
"Everyone was in single file on the right. There was something on the right. Borut get too close and the wheel touched it. It was so fast, we did not look at our wheels. It was a big scare.”
Sports director Jean-Luc Jonrond added:
"The crash of Borut completely disrupted the train, after all the efforts made to prepare this complicated finale. Without this crash, there was room to win.”
Manager Yvon Sanquer said:
"Borut is going well and we are all relieved. We'll see him on Friday’s stage. He will start. The injuries sustained are minor considering the speed at which the peloton was riding. Hopefully he will not be too bad for the last three days of the Dauphiné.”
Sports director Didier Rous said:
"Friday will be the first big test for the climbers. The final climb is not very difficult but it is not easy either! It will be up to Daniel Navarro, depending on the opportunities. He can both go for a stage win and a place in the GC. The team will assist the maximum in this task.”
Greg Van Avermaet after long sprint: I thought we were closer to the finish
Greg Van Avermaet sprinted to fifth place behind stage winner Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) in another hectic sprint finish at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Greg Van Avermaet was well-positioned in the final two kilometers and launched his sprint with 350 meters to go. He held his position in front, but was overtaken in the last 50 meters.
Greg Van Avermaet said:
“It was pretty hectic. The team did a good job to keep me in the front and then in the sprint I was a little bit alone but that’s normal. I was in a good position but maybe started my sprint a little bit too early at around 350 meters to go but I thought it was 250 meters. There was another corner and it was hard to keep it to the line. I hesitated a little bit and tried to go again and then the others came over me.
“A finish like this suits me. Then it’s just about timing, coming out of the wheel of the rider in front. This is always hard because if you wait a little, maybe you’re too late, and if you go too early you can lose some positions.”
Richie Porte: Those lost seconds might not make a difference
A crash in the final two kilometers split the peloton, with all but 21 riders finishing behind. Richie Porte was caught behind and conceded nine seconds to Chris Froome (Team SKY) so now sits in third on the General Classification, still six seconds behind Yellow Jersey-wearer Alberto Contador.
Richie Porte said:
“The team worked well all day. It was frustrating to lose those seconds in the final after the crash caused the split. In the end these seconds might not make a difference. The real race is won in the mountains.”
Valerio Piva, Sports Director, added:
“Like every day the plan was to protect Richie and go for the stage win with Greg. The team did a good job of protecting Richie, and as it was Greg’s last chance to go for a stage win, we wanted to see how the stage played out. Greg did a good sprint but he just went a little early.
“It was not easy with the wind at the beginning but this slowed down towards the finish. The crash created a bit of chaos at the finish and Richie was caught behind. The real race starts tomorrow in the mountains and it will be up to our climbers to protect Richie. Richie looks good and we’re looking forward to seeing how the next three stages go.”
Alexis Gougeard crashes in Criterium du Dauphiné sprint
For Ag2r, Alexis Gougeard crashed in the finale. Samuel Dumoulin finished 6th.
"I was on the wheel of Sam (Samuel Dumoulin). I had to lead him out for the sprint,” Gougeard said. “When I tried to go to move ahead of him, a Cofidis rider hit something at the side of the road.He crashed and I was just behind.
”We were going at 50/60km/h. I was not able to avoid it. I tried to crash well not to break anything. I have a wound on the knee. We'll have to look after it properly. "
He suffered a bruised left thigh with a large wound on the side of the left knee that required ten stitches. A decision will be taken on Friday morning whether he can continue the race.
Jens Keukeleire gets his chance at the Dauphiné
Belgian classics specialist Jens Keukeleire finished in seventh place on stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine today after excellent work by ORICA-GreenEDGEteammate Daryl Impey.
For the second day in succession the peloton followed a breakaway trio for most of the day before finally making the catch with only five kilometres to go.
Keukeleire was dropped off for the sprint inside the final few hundred metres by Impey after ORICA-GreenEDGE had played a key role in bringing the field back together.
Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Dimension-Data) won the fast sprint over a technical finish with Keukeleire crossing the line in seventh place.
Adam Yates remains in seventh on the general classification with three hard days in the mountains to come.
Sport director Laurenzo Lapage praised the work ethic of the team after yet another top ten finish at the 2016 Criterium du Dauphine.
“We had decided before the stage that Jens (Keukeleire) was going to get the chance in the sprint today,” said Lapage. “The guys all did their job perfectly with Daryl (Impey) and Simon Gerrans the last guys with Jens before the sprint.
“I am really happy with how the race is going, we don’t have a pure sprinter here and yet we are consistently finishing in the top ten.
“The next three days is where the real race for the overall begins,” continued Lapage. “The favourites are all racing quite nervously, trying to gain a few seconds where they can and finish up near the front each day.
“We are very fortunate with Adam (Yates), he is very relaxed, taking each day as it comes and we will see tomorrow how things are going to go in the mountains, but certainly we are happy with where we are.”
John Degenkolb: This felt like my first real sprint since the accident
When it was all back together, the sprinters teams continued to set the pace on the front before our guys took over the pace-setting in the closing 4km. Giant-Alpecin set up John Degenkolb for the finish and it was a great effort from him to sprint to 8th place.
John Degenkolb said: “In the finale, it was really good teamwork from the guys. In the sprint, my legs were not yet 100%, but I am happy I could do my own sprint. This finish is a big confidence boost for the whole team.”
”The line was fifty meters too far away,” he told De Telegraaf. “That is a matter of power. But we still have four weeks until the Tour.
“The team rode a perfect final. Other times there was always something wrong, but now we did everything right. This feels like my first real sprint since the accident. This finale gives a lot of confidence. I still miss a bit of power in the legs but after such a long period of rehabilitation, it is logical that this has to be increased gradually.”
Coach Aike Visbeek: “The objective was to prepare the sprint for John. We knew it would be an advantage to be early at the front as the last 15km were very fast with a lot of corners. In the finale, our plan worked out very well as we wanted to take the initiative. The guys did a good job and we can take a lot of confidence from the finale.”
Sam Bennett: I was on my limit in the finale
The headwind was the reason why sports director Enrico Poitschke decided to not send any rider in today’s early breakaway. Therefore all BORA – ARGON 18 riders should save energy for the finale and a more likely sprint finish with Sam Bennett. BORA – ARGON 18 was also pulling on the front of the peloton.
Bennett was well supported by the team and was in good position in the last kilometre. After the last corner he was blocked and overtaken by some riders that came from behind. In the end he finished in 9th place.
“The last 20k were really fast and I was on the limit the whole time. The team did a great job and positioned me well. Bartosz [Huzarski] was with me on the last downhill section in the final kilometre, but I was blocked after the last corner and lost momentum there. The 9th place was the best I could do then,” he said.
Luka Pibernik achieves first ever top 10 in a WorldTour race
Luka Pibernik was todayøs captain for LAMPRE-MERIDA: in the final kilometers, he could defend a good position just behind the front of the bunch, demomstating high competitiveness and a good condition. However he could not recover places when the sprint was launched, obtaining the 10th position.
In the general classification, Conti and Meintjes are 13th and 14th at 52" and 54".
Chris Froome: I didn’t expect to gain time in this stage
Chris Froome closed the gap on race leader Alberto Contador with a strong finish to stage four at the Criterium du Dauphine.
On a day for the sprinters Froome came home 14th, just behind the fast men, as a split emerged in the peloton and Contador (Tinkoff) finished in the second pack, nine seconds back. Richie Porte (BMC) also finished in the second group to slip to third overall, two seconds back on Froome.
Luke Rowe kept Froome well positioned at the front of the pack and the team avoided a crash 2km from the line, before Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) launched an early sprint and held on to take an impressive win in Belley.
Froome produced a fast effort to finish in the small front group of just 21 riders, as Contador and Porte slipped back to lose time ahead of the race's first serious mountain tests.
Speaking to TeamSky.com back at the bus Sport Director Servais Knaven was quick to point out the importance of staying up front on a sprint stage.
He said: "It's so important. There can be crashes and time losses on stages like this - there can always be gaps in a sprint finish. That's why we try to keep our leader up front.
"We always race like this. It was maybe a little bit easier today because we didn't have to control the race so we had a few more guys left, and we showed it's the right call."
“From the word go here I’ve said that this is an important race for me,” Froome told Cyclingnews. “The Dauphine is an important race in its own right. Yes, it’s the last race for me in the build up before the Tour but it’s important in it’s own right.
“I didn’t expect to make up time today, definitely not. On paper it was a pretty straight forward sprint.
“If the prologue is anything to go by then the Alberto and Richie are the guys to watch. Alberto has to defend the jersey and it’s up to myself, Richie and the other climbers to try and get some time back.”
Rare failure for Katusha train and Alexander Kristoff at the Dauphiné
It was a last chance for the sprinters on Thursday in the 68th Critérium du Dauphiné and Alexander Kristoff and his lead-out men were keen to set up the Norwegian fast man to challenge for the win. But a loss of position and a crash in the peloton made it hard to Kristoff to be in the mix on stage 4 from Tain l'Hermitage to Belley at 176 km.
”We controlled for most of the stage, first with Angel Vicioso who did such a good job and then Jurgen Van den Broeck also started riding as we tried to prepare the sprint for Alex. But in the last kilometers on the narrow roads it was tricky, with many turns. At one moment they lost position and found themselves in the middle of the bunch, making it difficult to move up again. There was a crash before the 2 km mark and that happened right as they were starting to move up so they had to brake. It was impossible after that to recover. It happens,” explained team director José Azevedo.
Alexander Kristoff finished 18th.
“Now we come to the mountains so we will be on the climbs for the next three stages. Joaquim Rodriguez is in good shape so we hope he will move up into first place – this is our goal of course. If we have a chance to win a stage with him we will certainly try but the main goal is to move up on the GC,” stated director José Azevedo.
Jesus Herrada misses split in hectic Dauphiné stage
What arguably looked like the most gentle route in the 2016 Critérium du Dauphiné, over 176km between Tain l'Hermitage and Belley, eventually became another demanding stage due to strong headwinds from the start, a threat the day's only three escapees - régional de l'étape Maxime Bouet (EQS) was the longest survivor, caught with only 4km to go - covered painfully to the point of covering just 61 kilometers in the opening two hours.
Looking for shelter against that menace and also some awful summer storms halfway through the day's racing, the Movistar Team riders got safely through the day, with no other scares but a split in the closing sprint - 9" between the first half of the group, including Alaphilippe (EQS; 2nd behind stage winner Edvald Boasson Hagen), Froome (SKY) and Dan Martin (EQS), and the race leader - which did not prevent Jesús Herrada from retaining his sixth spot overall, 27" behind Alberto Contador (TNK).
Both the Spaniard and his countryman Dani Moreno, who crossed the line two seconds before the yellow and now sits 1'11" back, tackle with good morale what will become the decisive trio of mountain stages, from Friday to Sunday. Stage five will finish atop Vaujany (Cat-2) after 140km from La Ravoire, which will feature no less than six other rated ascents, including the Col du Barrioz (Cat-1), in the early phase of the race.
Astana agree with Contador: The 3km rule should have been applied
“Frome the start there was headwind and the escape could hardly take advantage, the group then proceeded very regular all day long,” commented Dario Cataldo after the stage on his way to the hotel. “Then we went quite slow in the first part of the stage and so fast in the last 30 km. Many riders arrived there quite rested and the speed increased so much, it was really hard to keep the top positions.
“Until the crash at 2.5 km to go, the group was very stretched but in theory we should have been classified at the time of the winner. Today we had to be careful, keep the captain in front and as far away as possible from risks.
“I'm fine, in the first two days I suffered from the high temperatures and the race pace I was missing because I come from a long period of preparation. Now, both yesterday and today, I'm starting to feel the benefits of all that work, and I'm taking confidence with the race pace, so I'm confident for the next stages.”
Alberto Contador: The 3km rule should have been applied
After a brutal final few kilometres, which saw a crash nearly take him down, Alberto Contador’s quick reactions helped him keep hold of the GC lead, crossing the line a few seconds down on the sprinters.
From the finish, Sport Director, Steven De Jongh, knew the sprinters would push hard after being denied yesterday.
“The sprint teams wanted to sprint today, which meant we didn’t have to work all day, which was good. It was a tough day out there though – we had to keep the pace at the start and towards the end the sprinters were working really hard to take the win, which made the last few kilometres really difficult.”
With the stage nearing its end, the lead up to the sprint was becoming more and more chaotic, as Contador experienced first-hand.
"It was a relatively calm stage until the finale, which was truly crazy. Initially, it seemed as if the group would cross the finish line together. However, right after the 2km mark there was a big pile-up which caused gaps in the peloton.”
With the pace high, it was clear the sprinters were battling hard for their chance to take the stage. With everyone pushing hard at the front, there was a big crash right in front of Comtador that saw bikes flying and the Tinkoff leader having to swerve hard to avoid being caught up in the immediate aftermath. As the GC contenders pushed to the front so as not to lose time, it became imperative for Comtador to stay safe, with many choosing to drop back a little to keep upright than become caught in the mayhem of the sprint, while others expected the 3km rule, where the GC riders would take the same time as the bunch, to be applied. With the sprinters across the line, Comtador crossed shortly afterwards and for another day maintained his hold on the GC lead.
De Jongh, was disappointed that Comtador had ultimately lost some time after the crash.
“Unfortunately we lost some seconds today. The crash caused some real uncertainty in the group. We were expecting the 3km rule to be applied, but we ended up losing time. Alberto and some of the other GC riders tried to fight back to the front, but some of the other teams’ sprint train riders sat up and delayed the riders behind and the commissaries allowed the time gaps to stand. We were hoping the decision would be clearer – sometimes the jury will make a decision that goes for you, sometimes it goes against you, but the uncertainty creates lots of stress for the GC riders. It needs to be clearer so the sprint teams can take the risk, and the GC riders can stay safe – especially at the end of the day where there can be a lot of street furniture that can cause crashes.”
Contador shared his Sport Director’s frustration with the response to the crash.
"There was a crash 1.5 kilometers from the finish. We braked hard to avoid it. For this reason, the peloton broke in two and I was in the second part.
“I was caught at the back and I lost nine seconds to some GC contenders. The truth is nine seconds don't worry me, but what worries me more is the 3km rule. It has to be applied and we need clarity. But these 9 '' are nothing, there is still a long way to the finish. I just do not understand why the rule has not been applied.
“I don't think the finales are more nervous here than at other World Tour races. It's the same. The tension is high but it's just normal at this level of racing.”
With the sprint stages finished now, the race will start to take shape for the GC contenders. Tomorrow the Dauphiné will venture into the Alps, where on the shortest day of the race, at 140km, the most climbs will be ascended by the peloton. Stage 5 features seven climbs, including the uphill finish into Vaujany, with the toughest being the first category Col du Barrioz, which at 7.8km in length, featuring an average gradient of 6.5% and ramps approaching 10%. Closely following the Barrioz, the Col des Ayes is shorter, at 3.8km, but an average gradient of 8.1% will hurt riders – especially when there are still 90km still to ride before the finish. With a long stretch in the bottom of the Isere valley before the climb to the ski town of Vaujany, it’s uncertain whether an escape will go in this gently-undulating section, or if the attacks will wait until the final 6.5% climb, where a 9.4% ramp in the final 2km might split the field.
Ahead of tomorrow’s stage, De Jongh was expecting it to come down to the final climb.
“There are a lot of climbs, but most of them come in the first half, then there’s the long stretch before the uphill finish. We will wait and see what we’re going to do – we’ll decide tomorrow morning. Tomorrow kicks off a hard few days in the mountains so we’ll see how we’re feeling. It will come down to the final climb – if it goes away before then, the other GC teams will take control, so we’ll see what happens then.”
Contador was waiting until the stage started tomorrow to gauge how he was feeling and how he would ride.
“The Dauphiné is like the Tour. You don't know how you feel until you reach the mountain stages. I will take it day by day. We finished this first half of the race with the yellow jersey, something that wasn't in our plans. Our goal was to have a good first day and then see how we are reaching the mountain stages. Despite having the yellow jersey we won't take more responsibilities than necessary. We will see how tomorrow unfolds and we will adapt our plans. We will take it one day at a time, see how the legs feel and check our form.
“We'll see how it goes tomorrow in the hills. I don't have the speed in the legs yet. We're here to finalize the preparation for the Tour de France. I still lack a bit of rhythm in the legs. That's why we're here, to improve the condition. We'll see how I feel in the mountains. "
Frederik Veuchelen keeps Wanty breakaway streak alive
Wanty-Groupe Gobert managed to be part again of the breakaway in the fourth stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné between Tain-L'Hermitage and Belly over 176 kilometres. The team didn't play any significant role in the bunch sprint but our rider Frederik Veuchelen spent the whole day at the front of the race.
"At this level you're not playing with the peloton but the peloton is toying with you", Frederik Veuchelen said.
In the first kilometres Frederik Veuchelen attacked with two other riders - Maxime Bouet (Etixx-Quick Step) and Brian Nauleau (Direct Energie).
They got a top advantage of 5'15" but the peloton controlled the pace. With 40 km to go they still had 1'30" lead on the peloton. Twenty kilometres further they had only forty seconds left.
"It was difficult to think about the victory today. There was too much wind. We needed one more minute to hope", Frederik Veuchelen explained.
At 13 kilometres from the finish Maxime Bouet attacked. Frederik Veuchelen could follow him twice but the third time was too much for the winner of Dwars door Vlaanderen 2006.
“We were working well together until Bouet attacked. I’m still happy with my day”, Frederik Veuchelen concluded.
The fifth stage between La Ravoire and Vaujany takes place tomorrow over 140 kilometres with an uphill finish in Vaujany (category 2). It is the first mountain stage of this 68th edition. Our French rider Guillaume Martin who turns 23 this Wednesday hopes to continue his momentum of the second stage in Chalmazal-Jeansagnière.
Crash costs Moreno Hofland final chance to sprint at the Dauphiné
A crash prevented Moreno Hofland from sprinting for victory in the fourth stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné today. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s lead-out failed and Moreno was unable to make it up with a crash just in front of him. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) won.
“We were not where we wanted to be already on the top of the final hill,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said. “We weren’t good enough in the moments that we needed to deliver. That’s where we lost it. A crash in the final part of the stage prevented Moreno Hofland from repairing the damage. It was a couple of bad moments that prevented Moreno today.”
For Friday, the Criterium du Dauphiné organisers planned a short, but tough stage.
“The young riders will have to fight through the stage,” Zeeman added. “They’re getting better and stronger in days like this.
“George Bennett is feeling good, on the other hand. He doesn’t have the same level as the top riders in this race, but he will get the chance to show what he’s capable of.”
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