• Rúben Silva

Criterium du Dauphiné Stage 4 Preview

The riders had a much calmer day today and with a flat profile and a two-rider breakaway, there was a lot of room to recover from the previous days and in what was a messy sprint Sam Bennett took an easy win ahead of Wout van Aert and Davide Ballerini.

Positive: Not much to take from today, Bora did what they needed to and positioned Bennett very well in what was a very messy sprint. van Aert and Ballerini were nice surpsises to see in the podium.

Negative: Colbrelli wasn't in the sprint again due to positioning, same with Greipel but that was to be expected. Hodeg wasn't bad but he lost the right wheels there in the end and was far off from the victory.

The Route

A classic in the Dauphiné, there's a mid-race time-trial but it isn't a flat one, it's better to call it hilly. It's basically a come-and-go route, with a slight uphill leading to the intermediate point, atop a 2.3Km climb at 7.6%, following the trend of having hilly time trials, but this might very well be the most important day in the race, as the gaps are certain to come big here.

The Weather

The route is around 50/50 in each direction, the wind will be coming from the southeast and will get a little stronger throughout the day, but nothing big, and with the half east half west there isn't really much advantage to take from it.

The Favourites

I'll mention the time-trialists that aren't in the GC contention, with Nelson Oliveira out of the picture it'll be up to riders like Jan Tratnik and Michal Kwiatkowski, the Baltics are the main favourites out of this group. No real specialists out of them, CCC have Joey Rosskopf and Alessandro De Marchi, Alex Dowsett and Dylan Van Baarle are others to have in mind, the short climb and technical descent can see big gaps between those riders.

Nils Pollit and Damien Howson some more outsiders, and I'll also have a take that Wout van Aert will ride very strong tomorrow, a powerful rider who isn't just explosive but a big engine, I think it suits him very well.

The hotspot of the day though is of course the GC fight, some riders are going to be limiting their losses but others will be looking to make the most out of the stage, and it's hilly and technical parcours may spark some surprises in for the strongest climbers. Chris Froome and Wout Poels should be the ones that could benefit the most from the day, Adam Yates and Thibaut Pinot, I wouldn't be surprised to see them sneak into the top 10, both are looking sharp and they can deal with the challenge, and will enjoy the climbing envolved.

Some riders like Richie Porte and Steven Kruisjwijk are hard to predict how they'll go, it can go either way, same for Jakob Fuglsang. I expect Teuns to keep the yellow jersey but only for a matter of seconds on either Froome or Poels, he rides them well and is clearly in good form.

And the joker, Tom Dumoulin? Well I really don't know what to expect of him, on paper he's a big favourite to take it, he looked to be recovered from his Giro injury but it takes more than a stage to see how well he's really riding, specially as he himself didn't come very confident to the race.

Prediction Time

Kwiatkowski, Dumoulin

Froome, Poels, Tratnik, Howson

Pollit, van Aert, Porte, Pinot, A.Yates, Rosskopf, van Baarle, De Marchi

It isn't an easy choice at all, I'm not picking Dumoulin for being the strongest time-trialist, but he has taken it easier than the other GC riders as he's steered off the overall fight, perhaps less fatigued. The main reason is that I can't choose a winner from the other names, no real specialists but it's a time-trial that favours risk takers, it's not hard enough for the pure climbers to take advantage, several powerful riders can take it home.

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