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Who will win the 2019 Tour de France? Lessons from the Dauphiné

Joe Robinson
17 Jun 2019

Jakob Fuglsang won his second Critérium du Dauphiné but what does this teach us about the upcoming Tour de France?

Jakob Fuglsang led Astana to their 10th stage race victory of the year thus far, playing it smart en route to his second Criterium du Dauphine victory in three years.

Rather than batting off serious threats for the overall victory, the Dane took victory by picking up time here and there across the week, eventually proving too savvy for the likes of Nairo Quintana, Richie Porte and Thibaut Pinot who all lacked the same unwavering edge.

Tejay Van Garderen performed something of a renaissance to bag second overall while Emmanuel Buchmann continued Bora-Hansgrohe's good year with the final podium spot.

Ultimately, however, the race was shaped by Chris Froome's horror crash suffered on a recon of Stage 4's time-trial in Roanne. It ruled him out of the Tour de France and swung the door wide open for any rivals with an eye on Tour success.

It's not since Andy Schleck won yellow in 2010 that a Tour winner has not raced the Dauphine beforehand, so it usually acts as a good litmus test for what to expect at the biggest race of them all.

So below, Cyclist asses the main points to take away from this year's Criterium du Dauphine and what it means for next month's Tour de France.

A dull Dauphine could see a dull Tour de France

Let's be honest, the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine was dull as dishwater. 

The racing was largely benign, only being given life in the early stages because of some apocalyptic weather that saw small but eventually decisive time gaps among the race favourites.

The time-trial had an unexpected winner in Wout van Aert, but the overall GC battle was largely uninspiring (expect from that crash which is mentioned below) while the final stage was a lame duck.

Les Sept Laux-Pipay was the race's only summit finish but it was a climb so sedate it even saw Nairo Quintana launch a speculative (albeit doomed) attack on its lower slopes.

Eventually, all viable GC contenders crossed the line within 46 seconds of stage winner Wout Poels.

Within that group were riders such as Alexey Lutsenko and Dylan Teuns. Now, don't get me wrong, Lutsenko and Teuns are great racers but should not be capable of hanging in with the best on a summit finish. A sign of the course's vanilla nature.

The residing memory from this year's edition, however, will not be any of the racing but, unfortunately, the horror crash of Froome while riding a recon of the Stage 4 time-trial in Rouanne.

Hitting a wall at a reported 55kmh, the four-time Tour champion saw his hopes of racing for a record-equalling fifth yellow jersey disappear for at least this year as the 34-year-old sustained fractures to the neck, ribs, elbow and femur.

It's the biggest story from last week's racing and will likely remain the biggest story until the Tour starts in Brussels in two weeks time.

Sagan may be green with envy

Since 2012, only one thing has been able to stop Peter Sagan taking home the Tour's green sprinters jersey and that has been himself.

His ability to sprint, climb, descend and race smart has made him unmatchable in a contest that has seen the Slovakian make a mockery of the usual flat-track bully sprinters who ultimately lose out due to their lack of versatility.

But there's now a new kid on the block, he is called Wout van Aert, he is also a triple World Champion, and he has all the skills to topple Sagan from his throne.

Van Aert was very much the Dauphine's MVR (most valuable rider), backing up an impressive time-trial victory with a bunch sprint win the next day. He also managed to knock about on the hillier days, too.

He proved he has the versatility and capability to challenge Sagan for green and I, for one, think this could be a changing of the guard moment in terms of cycling's superstar hierarchy.

The only reservation around Van Aert is that this is his Grand Tour debut. Nobody, including Van Aert, knows how he will cope with three unrelenting weeks of battling around the world's biggest cycling race.

It could be the only thing stopping him.

Team Ineos have a team for yellow 

When Froome crashed out before the Stage 4 time-trial, it would have been understandable for the remaining Team Ineos riders to lose all motivation for the remainder of the week, especially considering the severity of the injuries reported.

In fact, the reality was the very opposite. 

Wout Poels transitioned from super-domestique to summit finish stage winner at Pipay and GC threat, eventually finishing fourth overall.

Dylan van Baarle then won the final stage into Champery outsprinting Jack Haig of Mitchelton-Scott. 

Quite the remarkable win for a Spring Classics man considering the severity of mountains scaled throughout the day.

The Dutchman pushed big watts on big climbs to win and in so doing confirmed he will be a pivotal member of the Team Ineos mountain train who will now be all-in for the hopes of defending champion Geraint Thomas.

Likely lad Julian Alaphilippe is going to be formidable 

He won the polka dot climber's jersey at a canter, bagged himself Stage 6 to Saint-Michael-de-Maurienne and was active in plenty of breakaways throughout the week.

If you thought that Julian Alaphilippe's all-conquering Spring may leave him hung over for the Tour this summer, you would be mistaken. 

Fundamentally, Alaphilippe is the best bike rider going into the upcoming Tour. That doesn't mean he will produce miracles and surprise us on GC or beat Dylan Groenewegen in a bunch sprint but it does mean he is likely to be one of the race's most entertaining rider.

At a glance, there are at least five stages at the Tour that could be Alaphilippe days – a mixture of punchy climbs and technical descents.

And best of all, he will likely do it all with a pirate's smile and sense of swagger that few others can match.

There is no clear Tour de France favourite

If, like me, you are something of a betting man (or woman|), the upcoming Tour de France could be the most exciting yet. Why? Because there are no clear favourites.  

With Froome's crash, we saw the disappearance of the only five-star favourite for next month's race. 

Now we are left with defending champion Thomas, whose participation in the Tour de Suisse does no favours for his Tour chances, a rookie Egan Bernal, a partially-crooked Tom Dumoulin, an unproven Jakob Fuglsang and an ill Adam Yates as the bookies' picks for yellow. Take your pick.