Stage 5 of the Critérium du Dauphiné started well before kilometer 0 with an 11-km neutral where the last two kilometers were a solid climbing before we even started racing. Then immediately it was another 4 km at 8 percent.
These starts are the stuff of nightmares.
I’m always blown away how we sprint up a climb like this and then still have a full stage to ride. The guys who got in the breakaway earned it, but as we often see, there’s always a team who wants to chase it down even if it doesn’t make sense to the rest of us.
The middle of the stage was deceivingly hard. We were on small roads bouncing through French villages. If anyone wants the specs on a speed bump for a small French town, I smashed into about 500 of them today and now have a pretty in-depth knowledge of their construction.
The approach to the final climb intensified with some wet roads and so much road furniture that it meant game over if you weren’t already towards the front.
Fortunately, we stuck Damiano in a good position, and Dylan and Joey stepped up to take good care of him on the lower portions of the climb. Damiano finished off the final kilometers in strong fashion to move up into second overall.
As for me, I was really feeling the effects of yesterday’s big effort, and once I realized I couldn’t contribute anymore, I tried to wind it down—which is that even possible on a 12-km climb?—in hopes that I’ll rebound for the final two brutal days of climbing.
📷 Getty Images / Tim De Waele