Thursday’s second stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné did not disappoint, and the peloton fought a dramatic battle on the summit finish to the Col de Porte. Jumbo-Visma continued its drubbing of Team Ineos, as Primož Roglič attacked and dropped Egan Bernal in the fight to the line.
The stage also provided some important takeaways for the upcoming Tour de France. Here are our three big takes from the day:
Chris Froome is not ready for the Tour
Fred Dreier (@freddreier): A few weeks ago I wrote a column in which I droned on and on about how I was finally ready to cheer for Chris Froome at the Tour de France. I was psyched for his comeback, and to finally watch him compete as a lower-tier favorite.
Well shoot, here it is mid-August and Froome really doesn’t seem fit enough to race the Tour. On Thursday we saw Froome slot in with his teammates to do the usual Team Sky/Ineos thing — grind everyone into dust on a long climb. And poof, Froome dropped out of the group before he even got a chance to put his nose into the wind. I believe Michał Kwiatkowski was hammering away on the front when Froome pulled the plug and faded down the hill.
That ride comes after he was dropped by a group of classics guys and puncheurs well before the finish on Wednesday’s opening stage. Where’s the Froome we know?
Hypothetical situation: Let’s say it is the week before the Tour and you are David Brailsford, and you see Froome getting dropped by his teammates well before the summit of a climb. Would you take him? When Sir Dave said a few weeks ago that Froome wasn’t guaranteed for le Tour, I initially thought this was due to his upcoming transfer to Israel Start-Up Nation. Now, I see the light. Froome may simply not be strong enough.
Hey, I realize we still have 2.5 weeks to go until Tour time, but man, Froomey needs to cram for the exam like nobody’s business if he wants to make the start in Nice. C’mon, Froome, get those lanky legs in gear! I want to cheer for you!
Sepp Kuss has arrived
Jim Cotton (@jim_c_1985): Sepp Kuss announced himself on the world stage at his Vuelta mountaintop stage win last year, but Thursday’s performance was a whole new level. Last August in the Vuelta, Kuss won from a breakaway while the GC favorites scrapped between themselves behind him.
Kuss’ ride on the Col de Porte was him asserting utter control over a whos-who of grand tour climbing talent. As big names like Rigoberto Urán, Alejandro Valverde, and Adam Yates all dropped away, Kuss rode on. He looked so comfortable doing it that he even had the composure to chase down Egan Bernal, and even give Bernal a stare down near the finish.
More importantly for Primož Roglič and Jumbo-Visma, Sepp proved himself as a world-class domestique. He knew when to push the pace, when to neutralize threats, and when to ease back when daylight appeared between his wheel and Roglič’s.
Sepp Kuss appears to be among the best climbing domestiques in the peloton.
Jumbo-Visma is the peloton’s new boss
James Startt: As it stands, Jumbo-Visma is by far the strongest team going into the Tour de France. Today, we saw Team Ineos go to the front as they have so often done in the past, but really it was Michał Kwiatkowski that did the lion’s share of the work.
Chris Froome is definitely far from Tour condition, and his selection on the Tour team is now even going to be called into question as he has been dropped the past two days. And Geraint Thomas, while in decent shape, is not in Tour-winning condition yet.
This means that Egan Bernal is increasingly isolated. But, timing is everything. Roglič was unbeatable at the beginning of last season and then faded in the Giro, and the third week of the Tour is still a long way off.