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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, June 3, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines. - Frank Lloyd Wright

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Critérium du Dauphiné team updates

We'll start with the note I got from Lotto-Soudal:

Sunday the 69th Critérium du Dauphiné starts in Saint-Étienne. Eight days long the WorldTour peloton rides through the eastern part of France where it gets a range of stage profiles: sprint stages, hilly stages and mountain stages. On Wednesday an individual time trial of 23.5 kilometres is scheduled.

One of the riders in the Lotto Soudal team is Frenchman Tony Gallopin. In the second half of May he participated in the Tour of Norway, where he finished two times on top ten and got tenth overall. Tony has set his mind on the opening stage: a stage of 170.5 kilometres with start and finish in Saint-Étienne. In the last forty kilometres the riders have to cover the Côte de Rochetaillée three times. It’s a 3.4 kilometres long hill with an average gradient of 5.4%. When the riders get to the top for the last time, seven downhill kilometres are left to go.

Tony Gallopin: “After Paris-Roubaix I needed time to recover from my crash during the recon and at E3 Harelbeke. I took a lot of rest. That was necessary to let my knee heal, but also to get rid of the physical and mental fatigue. I didn’t go on training camp, but trained close to home. Last week I went to the Jura to train. Before that, I had raced at Tour of Norway. That was the perfect race to get back in competition after five weeks. The condition didn’t feel bad at all.”

“The Dauphiné will be my first race in the high mountains this season. I want make progress in the run-up to the Tour. I have never won a stage at Dauphiné and I would like to change that. I love the Dauphiné. There are similar stages as in the Tour, but it is far more relaxed. The perfect preparation for La Grande Boucle.”

“The first stage looks great. I don’t know the hill in the finale, but I like the profile. The hill is not steep. I hope to be good right from day one. There is also a nice time trial. The distance and the profile suit me. This season I finished all my time trials on top ten. Lately, I have been working less on my time trial than in the beginning of the year, but I hope to set a good result on Wednesday.”

“I know the Mont du Chat, which lies on the course of the sixth stage. It is a very tough climb, which also lies on the route of the Tour. This is something for the pure climbers. That goes for the three last stages. It won’t be easy for a breakaway to survive till the finish because the GC riders will want to test themselves for the Tour.”

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin racing in the 2016 Tour de France

Herman Frison, sports director Lotto Soudal: “We go to the Dauphiné with a team of adventurers. Our main goal is to win a stage. In the second instance we aim for a good overall ranking. That could be achieved by Rafael Valls. The influence of the time trial on the final overall classification won’t be too big, the main time gaps will be created in the mountain stages on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This will be a very tough edition. There are not many flat kilometres. I see a few opportunities for a sprint, but I doubt that we will get a real bunch sprint. I expect sprints of a reduced bunch. Tosh Van der Sande or Tony Gallopin will do the sprint for us, depending on the finish. Our riders can take their chance in breakaways. We have the team for it, just think of Sander Armée and Thomas De Gendt.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Sander Armée, Tiesj Benoot, Thomas De Gendt, Tony Gallopin, James Shaw, Tosh Van der Sande, Rafael Valls and Jelle Vanendert

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Marc Wauters.

Here's the Dauphiné update Cannondale-Drapac sent me:

American Andrew Talansky will captain the Cannondale-Drapac squad at the Critérium du Dauphiné, which begins Sunday in Saint-Etienne. Talansky, 28, won the race in 2014, with a last-stage move that confounded Alberto Contador and Chris Froome, as the two didn’t take chase quick enough.

This season, Talansky is fresh off a win atop Mt. Baldy in the Tour of California’s queen stage, where he finished third overall. “Baldy and the Tour of California in general was a great week for the team. We really enjoyed the race and built some positive momentum heading into the summer,” Talansky said. “Baldy confirmed that everything is progressing smoothly. If we can carry that mentality, that way of racing into the remainder of the season, I have no doubt we will be successful. I’m feeling good physically and mentally.”

Joining Talansky are Alberto Bettiol, Nate Brown, Brendan Canty, Simon Clarke, Davide Formolo, Sebastian Langeveld and Dylan Van Baarle. Andres Klier and Ken Vanmarcke will direct.

“This year’s Dauphiné is pretty much straight forward. We expect a very intense first stage in which we will try to win but at the same time we have to see that our GC idea doesn’t suffer,” said Klier. “The first stage’s final is a tricky one and we have to be awake and ready to race. Later on in the week we get pure mountain stages and a TT, which will show us clearly how competitive we are on the general classification. Besides the few sprint stages, we are absolutely competitive and we have riders who are able to win a stage.”

Andrew talansky

Talansky winning 2017 Tour of California stage five

This running of the Dauphiné will feature two summit finishes — one on Alpe d’Huez and the next atop Plateau de Solaison on the race’s final day — and one 23.5 kilometer time trial. The parcours, coupled with the lineup of those attending (Froome, Contador and Alejandro Valverde, among others), will deliver a notable winner.

“We have a really good team and I hope we can show ourselves,” said Van Baarle. “We have Formolo and Talansky for the big mountain stages and Simon and Alberto for the harder sprint stages. I’m looking forward to racing again.”

Van Baarle is coming off his classics campaign where he was fourth at the Tour of Flanders and now looking to tune his form toward stage racing. He’s recently been training in France and working on his climbing. “My goal for this Dauphiné is to get stronger on the climbs and hopefully the shape is better when I come out,” he said.

“I think the team has opportunities to win stages and end up with a nice overall GC result. Formolo is clearly strong coming out of the Giro with a top-10 placing. For me personally, I’ll do the best race I can, same as at California,” Talansky said. “I have always enjoyed Dauphine. It fits nicely in the build up towards July, but really it’s a great race in its own right. I think it’s always an exciting week and I’m looking forward to heading back.”

Cannondale-Drapac for 2017 Criterium du Dauphiné:

Alberto Bettiol (ITA)
Nate Brown (USA)
Brendan Canty (AUS)
Simon Clarke (AUS)
Davide Formolo (ITA)
Sebastian Langeveld (NLD)
Andrew Talansky (USA)
Dylan Van Baarle (NLD)

Team Sky sent me this statement of the team's ambitions:

Team Sky’s Chris Froome will be aiming to become the first rider to win the [Critérium du Dauphiné] four times, and the first to win it three years in a row.

The full Team Sky line up for the Criterium du Dauphine is: Philip Deignan, Chris Froome, Peter Kennaugh, Christian Knees, Michal Kwiatkowski, David Lopez, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard

Chris Froome

Chris Froome racing in the 2016 Dauphiné

Chris Froome, Team Sky: “This time of the year it always feels like it’s really getting towards the business part of my season. I’m coming off the back of two great blocks of training with the guys up in Tenerife, which has got me in great shape and ready for the challenges ahead.

“I’m happy with where my form is right now. Everything is looking good and I’m looking forward to putting all the training into practice. I’m looking forward to going back and riding in France. There’s always a real buzz about racing there at this time of the season and a sense of excitement building about the Tour.

“I think the line-up of riders at the Dauphine is particularly impressive this year in terms of GC contenders and other Tour rivals, so it should be a big test and a real challenge.

“I’m going there hoping to win, but I’m fully conscious that I’m going up against some very strong competition – probably stronger competition than I’ve had at previous editions of the Dauphine - so I’m certainly not taking anything for granted. The Dauphine is also an important race for us as a team and getting a gauge of where our guys are at in terms of Tour selection.”

“I’m going there to do my best and, from there, I’ll have an idea of where I am ahead of the Tour and what work might need to be done”.

Nicolas Portal, Sports Director, Team Sky: “The Dauphine always forms a big part of our Tour preparation and it's an important race in its own right. It really feels like the Tour is just around the corner now.

“There is always a good field of Tour de France contenders at the Dauphine and that's definitely the case this year with riders like Richie (Porte), Bardet, Valverde and Contador. They will all be coming here in good form.

“It's a good, challenging course with a mix of different types of stages, so it will be a proper test for Chris. We've got a good group of guys here and we'll be racing for the win".

Team Quick-Step Floors has ambitions for the Dauphiné. Here's their release:

Dan Martin will carry the squad's GC ambitions at the 23rd World Tour event of the season.

Critérium du Dauphiné, which this year runs its 69th edition, means business right from day one, when the peloton will take on a tough and unpredictable hilly circuit in Saint-Étienne which could see some of the overall classification favourites lay down an early marker. Before the week-end, the sprinters and attackers should cut the lion's share, but the GC men too will have an opportunity to shake up things in the standings, thanks to a rolling 23.5km-long individual time trial between La Tour-du-Pin and Bourgoin-Jalieu.

Final three days of the race will bring as many chances for the climbers, with a mouth-watering menu which includes Mont du Chat, Col de Sarenne, the legendary Alpe d'Huez (which this year will be approached from a different side), Col de la Colombière and Plateau de Solaison, where the closing battle for the yellow jersey will unfold.

Dan AMrtin

Dan Martin

Last year, Dan Martin made history at the Critérium du Dauphiné by becoming the first Irishman to finish on the podium. The 30-year-old – a key protagonist of the Ardennes Classics earlier this season – will once again lead Quick-Step Floors at the French World Tour race, where he'll be joined by Eros Capecchi, Tim Declercq, neo-pro Enric Mas – one of the best young riders of the Tour of California – Maximiliano Richeze, Petr Vakoč, Martin Velits and Julien Vermote.

"If you look over the course, it's pretty obvious we have the same ingredients as in the past: some hard stages in the opening portion of the week, then a challenging time trial, which even though isn't long will lay down the ground for attacks in the mountains. I don't think there will be a moment of respite in the race, so we have to stay attentive all the time. Our team is built around Dan, whom we'll protect and help get another strong and morale-boosting result ahead of next month's Tour de France", said Quick-Step Floors sport director Brian Holm.

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