It would not be fair to say that the Critérium du Dauphiné’s fourth stage did not change anything, considering Egan Bernal and Emanuel Buchmann had to withdraw. However, the favourites who remained in the race all finished together in Megève. There surely was some action in the Bisanne’s climb, but the final ascent was not hard enough to create gaps. Almost unscathed after a crash at the start of the stage, Thibaut Pinot then won the small bunch sprint for ninth place, three minutes behind the winner Lennard Kämna. Before the final stage, the Frenchman still is 14 seconds behind Primoz Roglic in the general classification.

“I flew over the handlebars”, Thibaut Pinot

As expected, with three climbs listed (including two of 1st category) in the first fifty kilometers, the start of the Critérium du Dauphiné’s fourth stage proved to be extremely intense. The day’s breakaway had in fact a hard time creating. It only got away after a good twenty kilometers and with pretty strong riders, such as Julian Alaphilippe, Michal Kwiatkowski, Marc Soler and Thomas De Gendt. At the top of the Col de Plain Bois, the leaders were credited with a gap of two minutes on the bunch, where a crash then occurred a few minutes later, on the downhill. Among the riders involved, Steven Kruijswijk and Emanuel Buchmann, who had to retire, but also Thibaut Pinot, who was able to get back in the race.

The Groupama-FDJ’s leader told about the event: “We were in the top ten of the bunch, and in the first corner, Kruijswijk slipped on the gravels and took us with him. I flew over the handlebars, but I’m lucky. I’m not that much hurt considering the fall I had. It scared me for sure. I have a few scratches but the mark it left is mostly psychological. This is my second crash in two races. It’s not ideal. We did a recon of this road during training in July. We really thought they were going to renovate it, that there was no way a bike race would come here. It’s barely practicable on a mountain bike, so on a road bike … It’s a shame that a fall like this happens.” The accident made Buchmann, third overall, abandon, while Egan Bernal, seventh this morning, did not even start the stage.

“There was nothing we could do today”, Thibaut Pinot

Following this episode, the leader’s team naturally eased off and the breakaway was able to build a four-minute advantage after the Col des Aravis, which marked the end of the tough first part of the race. But after a few hundred meters in the downhill, the yellow jersey himself went down, all alone. Though skinned, he still got back on his bike and regained his place in the bunch. At the foot of the Bisanne climb, the toughest of the day (12.7 km at 7.7%), the Jumbo-Visma took control again before another team tried to do something. “Bahrain-McLaren set a big pace on the penultimate climb and it really exploded,” noted Sébastien Reichenbach. “They wanted to drop Roglic’s teammates but did not succeed. Jumbo-Visma did not really pull anymore after that, they waited for teammates behind so that they could ride to Megève. It all came back together, but it was still a very intense stage”. Dropped just a bit before the summit of Bisanne, the Swiss champion managed to regain contact in the downhill, as did Valentin Madouas a little later.

As for Thibaut Pinot, he never lost a meter on his main rivals when the pace picked up and the favourites group got reduced to a handful of riders. “There was a very strong pace in Bisanne,” explained the rider from Melisey. “There wasn’t much to do. Jumbo-Visma also proved smart. There was nothing we could do today, we’ll see tomorrow. I hope I won’t feel the crash’s consequences and that the legs will be good.” Philippe Mauduit also delivered his conclusion at the end of stage 4. “The best 7-8 were together at the top of the Bisanne climb, but it was so difficult to get there that there was no more fuel in the engines at that point,” he explained. “Anyway, Thibaut confirms he’s among the best. The final suited Roglic well; it was hard to try something, especially when you see the strength of Jumbo-Visma. You know that if you launch an attack, you’ll most likely get caught a bit later… Of course, we’ll leave tomorrow morning with a battle plan, but to be able to unlock Jumbo-Visma, you need more than just a rider. You have to be collectively able to do it, and there is also a better chance of success if several teams get involved”.

No comment