Short and Sharp Day of Racing on Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 69. juin 2018, La Rosière Espace San Bernardo (FRA) — Road Team
With over 4000m of climbing to cover in the space of just 110km, Critérium du Dauphiné stage 6 was always going to be a tough day for the General Classification contenders with Damiano Caruso limiting his time losses to remain in the top five overall after a brutal finale.
It was uphill from the moment the flag dropped with the road rising towards the base of first of two hors catégorie climbs, the Montée de Bisanne, and over the opening kilometers of the day, there were several attacks off the front of the bunch, the first of which was launched by Dylan Teuns.
By the time the race reached the summit of the 12.4km climb, which had an average gradient of 8.1%, a 26-rider strong group, including Brent Bookwalter, was sitting almost three minutes ahead of the main bunch.
After a fast descent came the 12.6km Col du Pré, which had the 5.7km category two Cormet de Roselend tacked onto the end, and as the breakaway hit the base of the climb, the peloton, where Caruso sat protected by the rest of his teammates, was hovering 2’30” back.
The gradient, mixed with the pace on the first part of the two-pronged climb, soon began to take its toll with riders dropping off the back of both the breakaway and the main bunch, which was soon whittled down to just 40 riders.
On the Cormet de Roselend, only ten riders from the original breakaway remained out in front with Bookwalter dropping back to join Caruso in the heavily reduced yellow jersey group, which now, with the intense tempo being set by AG2R La Mondiale, consisted of just 16 riders.
The gap to the remaining leaders was just one heading onto another fast, and this time technical, descent, before a short section in the valley that led into the final category one climb to the finish line in La Rosière, a 17.6km long ascent with an average gradient of 5.8% and a middle section with pitches close to 9%.
An attack from Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) on the descent saw the race start to heat up with the General Classification contenders reacting quickly as the leaders were pulled back to 30 seconds at the start of the climb.
The race exploded heading into the closing 10km of the day with Pello Bilbao (Astana Pro Team) the last man standing 20 seconds out in front while, behind the yellow jersey group started to split with riders spread out along the road.
Caruso lost contact in the closing kilometers of the stage but continued to ride at his own pace and dig deep to cross the line 1’45” behind Bilbao, who held on to take the win ahead of race leader, Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates).
After a determined effort, Caruso now sits fifth overall, 2’39” behind Thomas heading into tomorrow’s final stage.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
“It was a really really hard stage. When the stage is short, the intensity is always high so I expected today to play out as it did. We went ‘à bloc’ from start to finish and on the last climb, the tempo was really high. But, I decided to ride my own pace because for me, that was the smartest idea. Okay, at the end I paid the price and lost more than one minute but it wasn’t a disaster. I am now sitting fifth on the GC and tomorrow is another hard stage so it will be important to defend that.”
Critérium du Dauphiné
Stage 6: Frontenex > La Rosière Espace San Bernardo, 110km
Top 3: 1. Pello Bilbao (Astana Pro Team) 2. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) 3. Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 13. Damiano Caruso 46. Brent Bookwalter 51. Patrick Bevin