Featured image courtesy of @ASO/Criterium du Dauphine
There are moments in sport that can surprise us out of the blue and for today’s stage of the Dauphiné we had surprises in abundance.
Stage 4 from Ugine to Megève with seven categorised climbs including the Montee de Bisanne and right at the start we got a breakaway with Jumbo-Visma doing everything they could to shut it down before letting them have the stage win.
Julian Alaphilippe, Fausto Masnada, Luis León Sánchez, David de la Cruz and other big names were always going to be threats and at one point Primož Roglič was out of the virtual lead.
With Alaphilippe in the break you’d thought it’d be his day but not to be as Lennard Kämna, young German star and one day after he had a go on yesterday’s stage. A bright future ahead and on a difficult day for BORA-Hansgrohe as they lost Emanuel Buchmann to an abandon.
Kämna rightly deserves his day in the spotlight but talking about Julian Alaphilippe, he’ll be pleased to get some more climbing in the legs. It doesn’t look as if he’ll be in the best form going into the Tour and the GC a long way off.
It is the numerous surprises however that are the big talking points from today’s stage and it came right at the start. Egan Bernal did not start the stage due to a back injury – again throwing up more questions for Team INEOS.
With the defending champion now out of the running, what on earth happens now for the team? Bernal looked out of form yesterday and today Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas were not visible, perhaps saving themselves but in Russian Pavel Sivakov he’ll be the new option. It’s maybe not a lot to read into but Bernal suffering from a back injury two weeks before the Tour – doesn’t look good.
For Jumbo-Visma they’ve also suffered from an unlikely setback after looking so solid. A key climber and last year’s third placed rider at the Tour Steven Kruijswijk crashed dislocating his shoulder, for racer leader Primož Roglič he also suffered from a fall.
Kruijswijk now out of the race, now unlikely to make the Tour – that is a blow for the team. Jumbo-Visma also experienced a bit of a test from today as other teams decided to take it to them. Team Bahrain-McLaren rode well for Mikel Landa by putting Dylan Teuns in the break but also riding on the front up the Bisanne.
Jumbo-Visma and Ineos have both suffered setbacks today and other teams showed their metal.
Thibaut Pinot once again looked good with Reichenbach his domestique looking better but talk about someone who has ridden like an invisible man almost as if he’s not being taken seriously – Nairo Quintana. We keep on saying that he appears to be a refreshed rider but apart from that he doesn’t seem to be putting a foot wrong. Unless anything disastrous happens, Quintana is a pre-race threat when the Tour begins in Nice.
As mentioned we saw Emanuel Buchmann sadly abandon the race. The German rider finished fourth overall at the Tour last year, so we do hope he’ll be back racing for yellow very soon.
Ride of the day of course belongs to Lennard Kämna and team of the goes to Bahrain-McLaren for taking things up on the Montée de Bisanne and doing some decent efforts for Mikel Landa. Credit also to David de la Cruz as he swept up enough KOM mountain points to move into the jersey replacing teammate and yesterday’s stage winner Davide Formolo.
One final stage to go, Primož Roglič on the cusp of taking the Dauphiné overall but knowing that he’s taken a small hit from a crash but also the loss of a key domestique. The Tour isn’t far off now as the Grand Départ gets excitingly closer.