Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard make a dream yellow team
Just over two weeks from the Tour de France, and Jumbo-Visma's general classification plans look like they are set, and that they are working well. Primož Roglič maintained that he was not at his best throughout the week, but still comfortably won the Critérium du Dauphiné overall, 40 seconds ahead of his teammate Jonas Vingegaard, and over a minute and a half ahead of Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën).
Roglič built his lead on the stage four time trial, and then showed his superiority on stage seven to climb into the yellow jersey. The Slovenian now has won the Dauphiné to add to Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Itzulia, the Tour de Romandie, a list of the top week-long stage races. He is the pre-eminent stage racer of his generation, and is looking close to his best form.
After winning Paris-Nice in March, he suffered a knee injury which prevented him from racing much in the last couple of months. Now he looks very much on track to challenge Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), and unseat his compatriot as Tour champion.
In Vingegaard, who finished second at the Tour last summer in Roglič's absence, Jumbo have the second part a two-pronged attack that could do damage at the three-week race. One attacks, while the other sits back and forces their rivals to chase; or they could both just attack at the same time, as happened on stage eight.
The Dane will be excited to start the Tour in his home country, and could prove the better option in time, who knows. Either way, as long as they both stay upright, Jumbo have an excellent set-up in place.
Jumbo-Visma's split strategy works, good news for Wout van Aert
For the second time this year, at a French WorldTour stage race, Primož Roglič won the yellow jersey while Wout van Aert won the green. It happened at Paris-Nice, and happened again at the Critérium du Dauphiné last week. It's what Jumbo-Visma wants to happen at the Tour de France next month as well, with Van Aert there for stages and points, but also there with a strong GC hope.
On the evidence of the Dauphiné, the split strategy will work. Van Aert could have won all of the first six stages, justifiably, and looks like he might win any race that is not in the high mountains. Therefore, the Belgian will be able to collect points throughout the Tour, and must be the favourite for the green jersey in Paris.
There would be a worry, on another team, with another rider, that the two competing strategies might not lead to success. But Van Aert is not like a normal puncheur or sprinter; he can do it all pretty much on his own, relying on other sprint teams to bring the breaks back.
As this week proved, Jumbo-Visma can work across their plans to make things happen and bring victories. The Belgian might also be a useful ally for Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard in the mountains, slipping back into domestique duties.
Ben O'Connor proves that 2021 was not a fluke
Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën) came into the Dauphiné aiming for his first podium finish in a WorldTour stage race, and this is exactly what he achieved. Mission accomplished.
The Australian finished fourth at last year's Tour de France, and had a quiet end to 2021, but has looked incredibly consistent so far this year. He has finished in the top ten of every stage race he has finished, including a career-best sixth at the Volta a Catalunya, before going one better with fifth overall at the Tour de Romandie.
It was time to go even better and finish on the podium, and so he did just that. It was a shame for him that the Jumbo-Visma pair of Vingegaard and Roglič were in such outstanding form, otherwise he might have won a stage, or won the whole thing overall. As the best of the rest, he can certainly be proud of his performance over a week.
It will do wonders for his confidence, as he heads into his second Tour for AG2R. Last year was a bit of a surprise, but people will be expecting more from him this time around. On this evidence, he will be one of the contenders for a podium at the Grand Tour, maybe even better if the stars align.
What's going on with breakaways?
At the Giro d'Italia there were a couple of days where the breakaway managed to outfox the peloton, and this trend continued at the Dauphiné. Two separate stages of the eight-day race went to the break, to riders from TotalEnergies in fact, as the peloton mismanaged the chase, and ruined the occasion for the sprinters.
On stage two, Alexis Vuillermoz was the winner as the escapees beat the onrushing peloton by just five seconds, and then on stage six, the break has a more comfortable 30 second gap, as Valentin Ferron triumphed. Breakaway wins are nothing new, of course, otherwise the whole exercise of going up the road would be futile.
What is seemingly new is the break's ability to conspire cleverly against the main bunch. This week's Dauphiné was a bit different because there were not many sprint options and teams at the race, so not many people there to control the race, but it was still interesting to see. It might have something to do with advances in aerodynamics, but it is always intriguing to see a few riders stick away from a charging peloton.
Ineos Grenadiers' Dauphiné squad looks like it might be the B team
The Dauphiné was just the sixth time that Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) finished in the top ten overall at a WorldTour stage race, so on that metric it was a good week for the Englishman. However, after sitting in fourth on the penultimate day of the race, there might be some disappointment that he was not able to stay in the top five on the final day.
Admittedly, he did not have the best warm-up to the race, being hampered by crashes, injuries, and illness. He missed the Giro because of illness, and does not look likely to be in the Tour squad, which is a shame for him, but it is difficult to find a spot in such a stacked team.
The same is true of most of Ineos' Dauphiné riders, most of whom look unlikely to be part of their Tour plans. The A-team are those at the Tour de Suisse, including Adam Yates and Dani Martínez. The exceptions are Michał Kwiatkowski and Filippo Ganna, who one would assume would be in Copenhagen for the Tour, but nothing is certain.
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