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DAUPHINÉ BREAKDOWN: Key Takeaways From the Opening Stages

Dauphiné Race Takeaways

Dauphiné Breakdown: The Jumbo-Visma team look like they have a strangle-hold on the Critérium du Dauphiné with Wout van Aert winning a stage and finishing second twice, but can the Dutch team overcome the Dauphiné chaos? And they have the added complication of three leaders; Van Aert, Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard. Spencer Martin gives us his Dauphiné ‘BREAKDOWN’ so far.

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Jumbo-Visma has arrived fit and ready to win

With the first four stages of the Critérium du Dauphiné in the books, it is clear that while Jumbo-Visma has arrived fit and ready to win, Van Aert is on a level above his teammates. This has set up a fascinating dynamic where Jumbo will have to decide to ride defensively to defend Van Aert’s now-substantial lead or ride aggressively for Roglič or Vingegaard at the expense of Van Aert.

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Van Aert is on a level above his teammates

Below are the key takeaways from what we’ve learned so far and what to watch for as we hit the more GC-heavy stages to come.

Stage 1 started well for Van Aert

Five Takeaways:
1) Wout van Aert is the strongest rider in this race and shouldn’t be ruled out of the GC competition

  • Despite taking a stage 1 victory, which was taken with shocking ease, and finishing on the podium in three out of four stages so far, Van Aert is likely still disappointed with his results at this race due to pretty much gifting away wins on stages 2 & 3.
  • But, at this point, it is clear that the only rider who could potentially challenge him in a flat sprint is Dylan Groenewegen, who will have a difficult time making it to the line at any stage in this race, which means Van Aert still has more chances to win stages here. And with such a strong climbing ability and a large lead in the GC, he shouldn’t be ruled out for an overall victory, which would more than make up for his stage win slip-ups. After all, he finished 2nd overall at the climb-heavy 2021 Tirreno-Adriatico, minutes ahead of Egan Bernal and Mikel Landa.

Roglič – Off his game?

2) Primož Roglič is off his game

  • The 32-year-old Slovenian has appeared a flatter version of himself all year, but this Dauphiné has made it even more clear that he simply doesn’t have the same pop that he has possessed in recent seasons.
  • For example, on yesterday’s uphill finish where he would have feasted in years past, he finished in the middle of the front pack, and the TT, where he would have challenged for the win, saw him come in 40-seconds behind his teammate Van Aert.
  • These are still good results, and he should still be considered the favorite for the overall win here, but it isn’t clear if these diminished performances are part of a larger strategy to build more slowly into the Tour de France, or if Roglič is struggling from the same Jumbo malaise that saw their GC riders come out extremely flat at the Giro d’Italia.

Hayter rode a good time trial

3) Even with Roglič’s slight bobbles, Inoes’ GC threats won’t be able to challenge Jumbo in the mountains

  • Ethan Hayter, currently sitting 5th overall, has ridden a great race so far, but the young rider has struggled in the mountains so far this season. In 2022, he put in strong performances early on at the Tour de Romandie, Tour de la Provence and Paris-Nice, all climbing heavy stage races, only to collapse and fall down the GC on the longer climbs.
  • And their other GC option, Tao Geoghegan Hart, has struggled in every major GC race he has completed this season and as a result, likely won’t be able to challenge in the mountains over the weekend.

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That Dauphiné chaos – Stage 3 – Ooops Wout!

4) The Dauphiné breeds chaos and current team dynamics mean this edition likely won’t be an exception

  • While Jumbo appears to be marching towards an overall victory with one of their three leaders, an important thing to keep in mind is that while the Dauphiné is a WorldTour race and wins here mean a lot to upstart riders and teams looking for wins/points to please sponsors, the mix of smaller teams compared to grand tours (7 as opposed to 8 rider teams) and lack of overall prestige mean that major teams and riders won’t bend over backward to control the race.
  • And while Wout van Aert would love to rack up eight stage wins and an overall title here, his Jumbo teammates would prefer to invest energy making sure they put in individual performances that make it impossible for team management to leave them off the team’s Tour de France roster.
  • This means we should keep an eye out for chaos to strike in the mountains on Saturday and Sunday, just as it has in recent editions like 2020 and 2016.

Alexis Vuillermoz Alexis and the break ruined Jumbo-Visma’s plans for stage 2

5) Jumbo-Visma will likely win the overall, but with which rider?

  • An interesting thing about Jumbo’s slightly chaotic three-leader strategy is that it gives them a layer of protection against mountain raids. For example, the team has the three most likely overall winners of the race in Jonas Vingegaard, Wout van Aert and Primož Roglič all in the top 4 overall and only separated by only 86-seconds. This means if Ineos blows the race up early on stage 8 and Van Aert and Roglič find themselves in trouble, Vingegaard will have the green light to simply follow the move and with his high GC position, would be able to win the overall.
  • But, assuming things are more subdued over the weekend, it is interesting to wonder how Jumbo will play their strong position. Even a slightly struggling Roglič will be the favorite to take the wins on both stages 7 & 8 next weekend, but if Van Aert can pad his 56-second lead over his teammate via bonus seconds on Thursday and Friday’s stages 5 & 6, he could enter the final two stages with a 1’16 lead over his teammate. With a lead like this, it is difficult to imagine them doing anything but riding defensively unless Van Aert struggles and is dropped on an earlier climb.
  • However, judging by Roglič’s acceleration that briefly dropped Van Aert towards the end of stage 3, it doesn’t seem like everyone is on the same GC page at Jumbo. So, keep a close eye on Jumbo in the final few kilometers of stages 7 & 8 to see if they ride defensively for Van Aert or if Roglič attacks early in an attempt to decimate (aka Roglify) the others, including Van Aert.

Which Jumbo-Visma rider will be the final overall winner?

# Spencer Martin is the author of the cycling-analysis newsletter Beyond the Peloton that breaks down the nuances of each race and answers big picture questions surrounding team and rider performance. Sign up now to get full access to all the available content and race breakdowns. #

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