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Cycling Weekly
Cycling Weekly
James Shrubsall

Five things we learned from the Critérium du Dauphiné 2023

Criterium du Dauphine

If you missed it, Jonas Vingegaard won the Critérium du Dauphiné at a canter, his 2.23 winning margin the biggest since since 1993. A key Tour de France warm-up race, the Dauphiné is always a great place to see big Tour favourites battling it out with each other, so beyond Vingegaard's result there were plenty of takeaways – here are our top five.

Jonas Vingegaard is going to be very, very difficult to beat at the Tour de France

(Image credit: Dario Belingheri / Getty)

From the moment the Critérium du Dauphiné hit the big hills on stage five, last year's Tour de France winner rarely looked like he was doing anything except toying with the opposition. Two imperiously taken solo stage victories on stages five and seven were a less-than-subtle hint that Jumbo-Visma's Vingegaard was a rider on top of his game – and everyone else's, too.

It feels like there's only one rider who might be able to present the Dane with a serious challenge for overall victory at next month's Tour de France, and that of course is Tadej Pogačar. He is currently training to regain form after breaking his wrist at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, so is a bit of an unknown at the moment. What we know for sure, though, is that he is going to have to be very, very good to beat Vingegaard in the Tour.

Julian Alaphilippe is back to having fun (and winning) on the bike

(Image credit: Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP / Getty Images)

Last year was not a vintage one for the 31-year-old Frenchman. He seemed to crash all season, suffering broken ribs and a collapsed lung at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and a broken shoulder at the Vuelta a España. Unsurprisingly he wasn't able to find his best form and was left out of Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl's Tour de France team because of it. 

But at the Critérium du Dauphiné Alaphilippe looked like he had rediscovered his buoyant self. He first reminded us of his fast finish, sprinting home at the head of a reduced bunch on stage two with an assured 'tranquillo, tranquillo' celebration. Following a solid 14th in the time trial, Alaphilippe then mixed it up in the big hills of stage five to good effect, finishing the stage second behind Jonas Vingegaard. It's great to see the characterful French rider back to somewhere approaching his best.

The expected Ineos Grenadiers challenge was found wanting

Martínez finishes stage seven, followed in by Rodríguez (r) (Image credit: Anne-Christine Pouloulat / AFP / Getty Images)

Fans of the British team could have eyed this race with justifiable optimism. With a former winner in Dani Martínez, a resurgent Egan Bernal and Spanish climber Carlos Rogdríguez, a podium or at the very least a top-five seemed well within reach. "We have almost too many riders to protect," DS Steve Cummings said before the start. 

Things didn't start well after they lost potential stage-winner Ethan Hayter with a broken collarbone, a rider who was on the longlist for a potential Tour de France debut this year.

Ultimately, it looked like a lack of legs rather than tactical issues, with all three shipping sizeable amounts on time on the big stages. In the end it was Rodríguez who bagged the team's best result, coming in ninth. Not a bad personal result for the 22-year-old but not exactly what the team would have hoped for.

The Aussies are spoiled for choice

Ben O'Connor on the final podium (Image credit: Dario Belingheri / Getty Images)

Fans Down Under would have been heartened to see three Aussies populating the top-10 overall, with Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) fifth, Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) fourth and Ben O'Connor (AG2R-Citroën) third, bagging his second podium here in as many seasons. 

All are set for a Tour de France ride next month, and for Ben O'Connor and his team in particular, his third place should bring relief and reassurance that he will get another chance to prove himself at La Grande Boucle, having failed to finish last year after a big crash. For Hindley, last year's Giro d'Italia winner, next month will be his first Tour de France. As with O'Connor, his fourth place ought to reassure him that he has the form to make a good impression.

David Gaudu has left us wondering

(Image credit: Anne-Christine Poujoulat / Getty Images)

As a protected rider, if not out-and-out leader, for Groupama-FDJ at this year's Tour de France, 30th overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné was not the result the French rider was hoping for. 

Second at Paris-Nice earlier this year, as well as seventh and the mountains classification at Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var, and fourth overall at the Basque Country, had lulled us (and possibly him) into thinking this was Gaudu's year. 

The Dauphiné has upset the apple cart, and is a race he wants to forget as fast as he can, he told l'Equipe. "I'm going to turn the page very, very fast on this Dauphiné," said Gaudu, adding that he has received abusive messages on social media. "The objective remains the Tour de France. I would have preferred to do better this week but that's the way it is," he said.

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