Rider of the Race
While this race has largely been about how some of the leading contenders and pretenders are shaping up before the Tour de France, it wasn’t all about Froome v Contador v Porte. My rider of the race is none other than sixth-placed finisher, recent birthday boy (11 June) and best young rider, Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step). If 2015 was his breakout season with two second place finishes in the Ardennes Classics, a stage win and runners-up spot in the Amgen Tour of California, in 2016 he’s bounced back from a bout of mononucleosis (glandular fever) to again shine in the Ardennes and take his first overall stage race laurels in California. He’s performed consistently and shown off his credentials both as a sprinter and climber in this year’s Dauphine. A former junior worlds silver medallist in cyclo-cross, Julian first shone as a sprinter, collecting the points jerseys in 2013 Tour de L’Avenir and 2014 Tour de L’Ain. It’s still to early to predict what type of rider he’ll become.
Illustrious team-mate Tom Boonen had this to say about Julian after the recent Amgen Tour of California:
Time will tell. He has a lot of talent. A lot of talent. He’s one of the best young guys that I’ve seen on the team for a long while. But it depends on so many things. A crash on a bad moment, being there at the right time. But I think he has a lot of potential. Anything is possible with him.
The French were delighted: a stage win, three riders in the top 10 and the best performance by a Frenchman since Christophe Moreau’s victory in 2007 with runner-up 25-year-old Romain Bardet. Indeed, a quick glance at the overall top 20 reveals plenty of freshish faced talent and much reason to cheer. Last year’s Clasica winner, 23-year-old Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) gave Alaphilippe a good run for the best young rider jersey, finishing just six seconds back at seventh overall. South Africa’s 24-year-old Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida) was ninth overall and in 20th place, 23-year-old neo-pro Emanuel Buchmann riding for Pro Conti outfit Bora-Argon 18. Given the pedigree of the race’s major participants, these riders acquitted themselves well and are all riders to watch closely.
What does it all mean for the Tour?
It’s been a cracking race but what if any conclusions can we draw from the performances of the Tour contenders? In previous years, when Chris Froome has won the Dauphine, he’s gone on to win the Tour de France. Victory here signifies all is well in his world and he’s on track to take a third overall Tour victory, and back-to-back wins. The Sky team was packed with potential stage race winners, plenty of Plan Bs, Cs etc, clearly the strongest side here and not even Froome’s full Tour team as some, such as Geraint Thomas are racing in the Tour de Suisse. Sky have a formidable Tour arsenal and this was the team’s fifth victory in this race.
Alberto Contador insisted from the get-go that overall victory was not his primary objective but we all know he’s a man who doesn’t enjoy being anywhere other than the top step of the podium. Majestic in the gruelling uphill prologue, he initially seemed a little lacking once the road turned upwards. He’s at his most dangerous when he’s not wearing the leader’s jersey and his barrage of attacks spiced up the week-end’s stages. He ultimately dropped down the rankings to fifth though his result here keeps him top of the UCI’s World Tour Leader Board. Don’t forget, he’s a rider who quickly comes into form and is never to be underestimated.
Richie Porte, co-leader for the BMC Tour team with Tejay van Garderen, acquitted himself well though on Friday still seemed to think his role was to lead out Froome. Aggressive riding from both Bardet and Martin shoved him off the podium on the final day. Astana’s Fabio Aru looked out of sorts in the prologue, recovered his brio to win a stage with an audacious attack but was again found wanting in the mountains. Co-leadership at the Tour with the Giro winner, basking shark, Vincenzo Nibali, seems his most likely fate.
What else? Etixx-Quick Step continue morphing into a team of stage racers, we’ve already written about the exploits of Alaphilippe but Martin’s aggression in the mountains means he’s the first Irishman to stand on the Dauphine podium.
FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot took the queen stage ahead of Bardet, though the latter finished higher on GC. Results from the Tour de Suisse and Route du Sud will reveal the form of the other major contenders but, so far, it’s looking as if we’re in for a very competitive Tour de France – bring it on!
1. Chris Froome (Sky) 29:59:31
2. Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) +0:12
3. Daniel Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) +0:19
4. Richie Porte (BMC) +0:21
5. Alberto Contador (Katusha) +0:35
Points Jersey: Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data)
King of the Mountains Jersey: Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data)
Best Young Rider: Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step)
Team Classification Leader: Sky
Prologue: Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) Final KM here
Stage 1: Nacer Bouhani (Cofidis) Final KM here
Stage 2: Jesus Herrada (Movistar) Final KM here
Stage 3: Fabio Aru (Astana) Final KM here
Stage 4: Edvald Boassen Hagen (Dimension Data) Final KM here
Stage 5: Chris Froome (Sky) Final KM here
Stage 6: Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) Final KM here
Stage 7: Steven Cummings (Dimension Data) Final KM here
Links: Official race website
Header: The podium, Criterium du Dauphine 2016 from Race Facebook page