Dauphine 2014 Observations#2

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Talansky! A fantastic result for Garmin, who took the race by the scruff of the neck  & showed what can be done against riders who currently have superiority in the mountains. With a damaged Froome & an isolated Contador, we’ve seen during the past few days just how easily things can fall apart. It’s also obvious now just how close the top riders really are to each other this year. The Critérium du Dauphiné has blurred my Tour podium viewfinder, I’m now standing much further away from the photo & somebody’s removed the crosshairs, any number of riders could be up there in 3 weeks!

Contador, Froome, Talansky, Van Den Broeck, Nibali, Valverde, Quintana, they should all be there at the Tour, in similar condition, along with the anomaly of Horner, who has a habit of popping up from nowhere in form. But what a win from Talansky, he took a risk & it worked, we generally see that result in a confidence boost. I’d not rule the American out of a good podium place in the Tour. The big question for me, what’s Quintana got left in the tank after the Giro? There will be fireworks on the opening mountain stages as everybody thinks they’ve got a chance now, so if Valverde falls, we then get to see what the Colombian can do against all the big guns, something I’d hoped we’d see him focus on this year, but sadly not.

Froomedog Limps Home

What was I saying in ‘The Madness of Sir Dave‘ about making sure everybody gets an opportunity? Today Nieve took a well deserved win having been cut free from the shackles of leader-leading. Lopez was left to stick Froome in his basket & get him home in as best a state as he could. These gestures will make a difference in July, Froome now knows his rivals are much closer to him this year, having a super loyal Nieve with a Dauphine stage win under his belt is going to solidify support from the rider who looks likes his strongest mountain ally.

Did Froome’s crash really make all the difference here, or was he going to get beaten anyway, that we will never know, but will be able to surmise come the Tour. It seems to me that the display of incessant attacking on the initial mountain stage was maybe too much. Froome will need to ride much more conservatively in future if he hopes to beat more equal rivals. It looks like everybody else has caught up, making attacks count when your opponents are at their weakest is going to the best option, not attacking like crazy on the first mountain stage when everybody is fresh.

The Gist Of It

As usual, the Dauphine sets the scene for the Tour, but this time it’s not given us one hot favourite, it’s opened up the race as a potential joy from a fans perspective. If time gaps are expected to be small, the race may be decided on opportunism. The cols will be important, but so will cross winds & descents, if you think the initial week is often nervous, you’ve probably seen nothing yet, with no single hot favourite to win & riders trying to grab seconds wherever they can. It’s going to be a feast.


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