Criterium du Dauphiné Stage 6 Preview
Wout van Aert got his second win in a row in the Dauphiné in what was a complicated sprint. The day had a breakaway of Yoann Bagot, Stephane Rossetto and Alessandro De Marchi and the trio made for a very dificult task in the peloton, being caught already inside the final couple of kilometers, where Phillipe Gilbert and Edvald Boasson Hagen tried to surprise. Despite being caught close to the finish, that with the technical finale left a very decimated leadout and a messy sprint launch from which Sam Bennett was affected, van Aert was the fastest in front and beat the Irish and Alaphillipe, consolidating his points jersey.
Positive: van Aert is the surprise of the race even though it was already widely known he's one of the biggest talents in cycling, this win confirms the sprint power he's been showing in the last few stages. Manzin and Venturini were strong with good results.
Negative: Colbrelli missed again the positioning in what was surely his last chance, Bennett also was the strongest but lost the momentum close to the finish, in what would have been a second win.
The final weekend in the mountains is the decisive one though if we let go the importance of the time-trial. With gaps made in it, it is in theory time for the climbers to start dealing blows head-to-head to each other, and this day is a good one for it. Although it can be said that the final climb isn't hard enough to create real gaps, what comes before it may change the scenario a bit.
There's 3700 meters of climbing in this day despite the lack of a big mountain, it's 229 kilometers long in the Alpine valleys, finishing in one of it's most reputated cities of Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, and the climb where it's likely to see the race winning moves is 8.1Km long at 6%, hard after 215 kilometers in the legs, but a preparation in a way for what's to come in the following days.
Strong gusts but not wind, it'll come from the south in the majority of the stage which will make it slightly calmer pace. Despite this the wind will come favourable in the final climb, where the wind may be felt there due to the more exposed road and bigger altitude.
I think it's a day for the breakaway, but the GC riders may have their play in the final climb and that's the main topic so what is to expect? The stage is long and has a good amount of climbing, and despite that final climb not being so hard, there's only a technical descent until the finish and with riders as Pinot mainly looking to attack in the climb there will be interest in making the race hard.
Pinot looked the sharpest on stage 2 and I think he'll be the best climber in the race, with him I think Adam Yates and Jakob Fuglsang look the best and they will be on the final podium of the race. There's enough climb for big attacks to come, I think that will be what to expect from them.
Quintana will prefer Saturday's stage so I think he will be riding defensively tomorrow. Assuming Poels' TT was a bad day we can also see him riding strong tomorrow with the strongest, Michael Woods too but the climb will be a little too long for him to take advantage of it.
Dan Martin, Richie Porte, Steven Kruisjwijk and Emanuel Buchmann showed some fragility in stage 2 on the climb so we don't know how exactly they'll be performing, all of them are suited for the climb, if they have better legs they can play a role in the climb, I wouldn't discount Dylan Teuns aswell, he's a very decent climber and should be close to the level of the others, motivated by his current GC position.
As for a breakaway, there's a good chance it'll succeed. De Marchi and Rossetto were big hitters today so they shouldn't be so tomorrow, even if on breakaway they won't have the best legs, I'll point some names that can be in the break and win from it with good chances:
INEOS - Kwiatkowski
Mitchelton - Haig, Howson, Schultz
AG2R - Cherel, Geniez
Deceuninck - Alaphillipe
Bora - Muhlberger
Astana - G.Izagirre
Cofidis - Edet
FDJ - Gaudu, Reichenbach
CCC - Pauwels
In case a break succeeds it should be one of these riders taking it.
⭐ Quintana, Poels, Porte, D.Martin, Buchmann, Schultz, Edet, Pauwels
I'm going with Thibaut Pinot though, he is the rider who is transmiting me the most confidence. Since 2017 he is becoming one of the strongest climbers around, his results in Grand Tours have been hindered, but rides like Vuelta/Lombardia last year and the way he is building up, winning the Tour de l'Ain right before coming here, form looks very good and he wants to win the race.
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