Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 4: Wiggins outclasses opposition to take grip on GC

Team Sky rider more than half a minute quicker than second placed Tony Martin and puts nearly two minutes into Cadel Evans

by Simon_MacMichael   June 7, 2012  

Critérium du Dauphiné 2012 parcours

Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins this afternoon rode a stunning time trial in Stage 4 of the Critérium du Dauphiné, putting in the quickest time of 1:03:12, more than half a minute quicker than second placed Tony Martin of Omega Pharma-Quick Step, the world champion in the discipline, to consolidate his lead in the race he won last year. In the process, Wiggins dealt a potential psychological blow to BMC Racing's Cadel Evans ahead of the Tour de France which starts at the end of this month; the Australian, lying second overall this morning, had rolled off the ramp in Villié Morgan two minutes before Wiggins this afternoon, but the British rider crossed the finish line in Bourg-en-Bresse just seconds behind him at the end of the 53.5 kilometre course. On another great day for Team Sky, former world time trial champion Mick Rogers was third, with Chris Froome sixth.

Today’s time trial also resulted in a big shake-up in the general classification, which this morning saw 20 riders separated by just a dozen seconds. Wiggins, of course, retains the race lead, but has stretched his advantage over Martin, four seconds behind him at the start of the day and now lying second, to 38 seconds. Rogers moved up to third, one minute 20 seconds behind his team leader, with team mate Sylvain Chavanel fourth and Evans dropping to fifth, one minute 44 seconds off the lead.

There are still three weeks to go until the Tour de France starts in Liege and some might wonder whether Wiggins has peaked too soon, while also pointing out that some riders such as Evans have had their early season disrupted by illness or injury and will be using the Dauphiné to ride themselves into form for the Tour, rather than targeting the race win.

While his title defence isn’t wrapped up yet – the race heads into the high mountains tomorrow with an ascent of the Grand Colombier, followed by tough climbs on the final two stages at the weekend – Wiggins, supported by a strong core of riders from Team Sky, is so far proving himself to be peerless when it comes to stage races this year, winning Paris-Nice in March and following that up with the overall in the Tour de Romandie.

A three-week race is a different proposition to one lasting seven or eight days, but with more than 100 kilometres of time trialling in the parcours of this year’s Tour, and perhaps less of an emphasis on tough mountain stages than there has been in recent years, the route could be tailor-made for Wiggins.

“It was a solid time trial for everyone today, there was no way of bluffing it or fluking it," he said afterwards. "It was a real test in the conditions. It’s just nice to be out there in that discipline after all the training we've spent on the time trial bike over the winter and in the last few weeks.

“To beat the world champion is a big thing as I’ve not finished ahead of Tony many times in the past. I beat him at Algarve at the start of the season but that was by milliseconds so to do it by a clear margin this time is a huge satisfaction.

“We’ve been chasing Tony for a long time," he added. "He raised the bar at the World Championship last year so that was a starting point for us; to work towards trying to get close to him. It's by no means going to be the same every time trial we do from now on but it’s something nice to show the kids when they are older!

“However I don’t think you can look into it too much," he cautioned. "It’s not a form guide for the Tour de France, it’s just how you happened to go on one particular day but it's definitely a nice position to be in.”

Team Sky sports director Sean Yates added: “The display from Bradley today was out of the top drawer and worthy of all the praise that comes his way.

“He came into the race looking to get GC and the team has been backing him superbly to this point; then on a day like today it’s up to him to deliver, which is exactly what he did and in quite outstanding fashion. It was a great performance."

He too warned against reading too much into today's result ahead of the Tour, saying: “He had a plan, stuck to it and the result is there for all to see but we’ve got to keep our feet on the ground.”

Reflecting on his time trial today, Evans, who was second in this race to Wiggins 12 months ago, the fourth time he has been runner-up in the Dauphiné, said: "I've had some troubles there. I felt I lost power in the flat and straight road. I need to work on it, but as I said already, I still need to make some improvements before the Tour.

"I was hoping for a better result, but when compared to last year, it was about the same," added the Australian, who took the maillot jaune on the penultimate day of the Tour last year following the time trial in Grenoble, in which he finished second to Martin.

"I was not at the level of the specialists at that moment of the season last year either," he added.

One rider the Tour’s itinerary doesn’t suit this year is Andy Schleck, whose well catalogued weakness against the clock was compounded today after he crashed early on, tearing his skinsuit and collecting some painful looking road rash on his right buttock.

Whether it’s his form, the after-effects of a knee injury or a reported falling out with RadioShack-Nissan team manager Johan Bruyneel that has led to Schleck apparently losing all interest in this race, the Dauphiné is proving disastrous for the rider who last week collected the maillot jaune after being awarded the 2010 Tour de France as a result of Alberto Contador being stripped of the title.

Whtaever the explanation, the week is proving less than ideal preparation for him ahead of the Tour, although we’ll have to wait to July to see just how deep-rooted the problems are that seem to be affecting his racing.

In comprehensively beating Martin today, Wiggins also put down a marker for the Olympic time trial in London in early August, although it should be borne in mind that the German has only recently returned to racing after being injured when he was struck by a car while training a couple of months ago, and may also be feeling the after-effects of a minor crash yesterday.

The early pace today was set by Orica-GreenEdge’s Luke Durbridge, winner of Sunday’s prologue and the 19th man out on the course this afternoon, and no-one would come close to beating his time of 1:04:50 until Wilco Kelderman of Rabobank, starting more than two hours later, set what would be the fourth fastest time of the day at 1:04:36.

The Dutchman nearly came to grief on a tricky left hand bend just short of the line, struggling to keep his bike upright and avoid running wide into the barriers as his rear wheel threatened to slide out from underneath him, and Garmin-Barracuda’s David Millar would encounter similar difficulties but managed to keep control to post the ninth fastest time.

Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 4 result

1  WIGGINS Bradley            SKY PROCYCLING              1h 03' 12"
2  MARTIN Tony                OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP      + 00' 34"
3  ROGERS Michael             SKY PROCYCLING               + 01' 11"
4  KELDERMAN Wilco            RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM        + 01' 25"
5  CHAVANEL Sylvain           OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP      + 01' 33"
6  FROOME Christopher         SKY PROCYCLING               + 01' 33"
7  DURBRIDGE Luke             ORICA GREENEDGE              + 01' 37"
8  EVANS Cadel                BMC RACING TEAM              + 01' 43"
9  MILLAR David               GARMIN-BARRACUDA             + 01' 51"
10 SANCHEZ Luis-Leon          RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM        + 01' 53"
11 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen      LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM           + 02' 12"
12 GRIVKO Andriy              ASTANA PRO TEAM              + 02' 16"
13 VAN GARDEREN Tejay         BMC RACING TEAM              + 02' 28"
14 SIUTSOU Kanstantsin        SKY PROCYCLING               + 02' 28"
15 KIRYIENKA Vasil            MOVISTAR TEAM                + 02' 30"
16 BRAJKOVIC Janez            ASTANA PRO TEAM              + 02' 33"
17 HAGEN Edvald Boasson       SKY PROCYCLING               + 02' 38"
18 PLAZA MOLINA Ruben         MOVISTAR TEAM                + 02' 39"
19 COPPEL Jérôme              SAUR-SOJASUN                 + 02' 49"
20 AMADOR Andrey              MOVISTAR TEAM                + 02' 50"

Overall Standings after Stage 4

1  WIGGINS Bradley            SKY PROCYCLING             14h 11' 07"
2  MARTIN Tony                OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP      + 00' 38"
3  ROGERS Michael             SKY PROCYCLING               + 01' 20"
4  CHAVANEL Sylvain           OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP      + 01' 38"
5  EVANS Cadel                BMC RACING TEAM              + 01' 44"
6  KELDERMAN Wilco            RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM        + 01' 45"
7  FROOME Christopher         SKY PROCYCLING               + 01' 48"
8  MILLAR David               GARMIN-BARRACUDA             + 02' 00"
9  SANCHEZ Luis-Leon          RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM        + 02' 02"
10 GRIVKO Andriy              ASTANA PRO TEAM              + 02' 18"

12 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I know it has been well documented but, if Wiggins' preparation in the Canaries is anything to go by, it looks as if he will be very hard to beat come July. I guess we have to hope that he and his support team have got everything under control, and that they can, somehow, ward off the dangers of a chute.

Fran the Man

posted by Fran The Man [67 posts]
7th June 2012 - 16:19

3 Likes

Cavendish must have been watching telly rubbing his hands together today. High Road could never put a train like that together.

493rd in GC Fantasy TdF 2014

posted by Sanderville [215 posts]
7th June 2012 - 16:26

1 Like

Sanderville wrote:
Cavendish must have been watching telly rubbing his hands together today. High Road could never put a train like that together.

It's a good point. The difficulties of getting both yellow and green jerseys are well discussed, but Sky do have a very strong team of all-rounders. I guess the question is how much they'll be prepared to work to deliver Cav when they know they're going to have to work in the mountains too. But if they have the overall capacity, the speed is certainly there...

posted by step-hent [684 posts]
7th June 2012 - 16:31

2 Likes

On mountain stages, if Cav pulls them to the foot of the first hill as fast as he can then I will begrudgingly stop calling him a one-trick pony. The way Sky Team UK delivered him to the line at the world champs was historic and the way it was under-reported by our media must go down as yet another crime against our greatest sport.

493rd in GC Fantasy TdF 2014

posted by Sanderville [215 posts]
7th June 2012 - 16:54

1 Like

There's a couple of things that could work to Sky's advantage. They'll want to be riding at the front to keep Wiggins out of trouble (especially following hat happened last year), which means Cav will be at the right end of the race.

They'll also have other teams working with them to bring back breaks - you'd certainly expect the likes of Argos-Shimano with Kittel and Degenkolb and perhaps Orica-GreenEdge with Goss to be sharing the workload.

As for the final leadout, with Geraint focusing on the track you'd expect Eddie BH to do the duties or perhaps Ben Swift if he makes the Tour line-up.

You've also got three probable riders - Rogers, Siutsou and Eisel - who've helped Cav win TDF stages in the past. Get him towards the front with 250m left and more often than not, he'll do the rest.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8162 posts]
7th June 2012 - 16:59

1 Like

Hoping Wiggo's form lasts - seems almost too good at the moment given the demands on him throughout July.

Great day for Sky though, I'll have to watch the run-in to see what Sanderville means.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3234 posts]
7th June 2012 - 16:59

2 Likes

Sky are an astoundingly good team. I Hope they can hold it all together for the TDF and that Wiggins and Cavendish do the team and themselves justice in La grande boucle.
What good performances in the TDF might mean for British cycling in the Olympic road race and Time Trial could be a concern for some, but for me (as a cyclist) the TDF is the more impotent event. The general public however may think differently. I wonder what other cyclist think? and if Wiggins wins the TDF would that, along with his other palmares, make him the greatest British cyclist ever?

THE ONLY WAY IS BIKE

posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
7th June 2012 - 18:05

2 Likes

Important or impotent event ?! Smile

Tdf would take priority for me. The Olympics would make him a national hero, but only among the other few dozen (hopefully) medalists we will see. The Tdf has to be the biggie.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3234 posts]
7th June 2012 - 18:29

1 Like

He's already got three Olympic golds - in total medals he is comfortably in the top ten GB Olympians.

The Tour has to be the priority for him, and not just from a cycling perspective. If he has something left for the Olympic TT a week and a half later, so much the better.

Certainly from what Dave Brailsford was saying earlier this year, Sky/BC (nice not to have team vs country conflict) see his prime aim as the Tour.

Other British cyclists will win medals at the Olympics. None has won the TDF and he has a fantastic opportunity to do so - that parcours (and the absence of Contador) isn't going to come along every year.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8162 posts]
7th June 2012 - 19:41

2 Likes

Do I risk saying his sterling time trial ride is a direct result of his new aerodynamic haircut? Wink

posted by Sadly Biggins [264 posts]
7th June 2012 - 20:09

1 Like

To me as a cyclist you can shove the green jersey (already won though not in Sky colours) and the Olympics where the sun don't shine. For me there is one jersey that matters and it will be awarded at the end of July. I remember when Chris Boardman and Sean Yates both got to wear the yellow jersey for a couple of days. The feeling was amazing, the first Brits since Tom Simpson. "We" now have the best chance we have had probably since the 60's (and it could be argued that the overall was always beyond TS) of a British winner of the Tour de France. I think even our media might take notice of that. Not that I care about the general media or public's opinion of cycling.

posted by 1961BikiE [82 posts]
7th June 2012 - 21:17

1 Like

Test

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3234 posts]
9th June 2012 - 15:37

1 Like