2022 Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 4 Preview

Montbrison > La Bâtie d’Urfé 31.9km ITT

It’s time for the race against the clock, with a relatively long TT. The flat route, and lack of corners, is terrible news for the skinny climbers, this is a day for the powerhouses of the peloton.

Weather

I’ve checked five different forecasts and they all say different things. There is every chance those out early have wet roads, with a chance of it drying up for the late starters. Other sites think there’s a chance of light rain throughout the whole day, and another forecast says it’s dry for everyone!

Route

Just 121m of climbing in 32km of racing, that’s about as flat as you’re likely to find. Considering the length of the TT, it’s amazing how few corners we have, the brakes won’t be needed much. 

The Big Two

This stage is all about Ganna v Van Aert, no one else is likely to get close. In the last two years we’ve seen them match up on just four occasions in this discipline, they rarely ride the same races. I’ll remove the Olympics from my consideration, it was a hilly TT, even though the Italian surprisingly bested Van Aert that day.

They’ve gone toe-to-toe in three flat TTs: the 2020 & 2021 Worlds and 2021 Tirreno. Ganna won both world titles, with Van Aert taking the win in Tirreno. When it comes to the crunch, Ganna has the upper hand over Wout, but things can change.

Wout has shifted his training focus away from being brilliant on all terrain, to a more focused look at sprints and TTs. With this shift, I would expect him to have put on a little weight, which is important when going up against Ganna. 

The Italian has ridden four TTs this year, winning three but surprisingly losing to Bissegger in the UAE Tour. The route is great for him, the length is great for him, but even he’ll be a little worried about Van Aert’s progression, he only beat him by 6 seconds in the 2021 Worlds. Make no mistake, this is a dress rehearsal for the opening stage of the Tour, even though that’s only 13km long. Both men have their sights set on the “real” yellow jersey, this stage will hand one of them a significant psychological advantage.

Van Aert has ridden just one TT this season, taking the win in Paris-Nice in a hilly 13.4km route. He will start in the race lead tomorrow, which is bad news as he’ll be wearing the yellow skinsuit, which will cost him watts. The good news is that he’ll know what he needs to do to beat Ganna. I do hope both get dry roads.

Technology

For many riders, this is their last TT before the Tour de France. That means some will be lining up with a fancy new skin suit, others will no doubt find a new bell that makes them go 3km/h faster. BikeExchange have spent a bit of money on new equipment, and they won both Giro TTs. They might not line up with a serious contender for the win, but I’m interested to see how Durbridge goes, especially as Marco Pinotti is his DS in this race.

Prediction Time

I’m basing my prediction on the main riders having dry roads, hopefully this happens. I’ll take a win for Filippo Ganna, that yellow skinsuit will have a big outcome on the winner of this stage.

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