Post Stage Analysis

Evans In It to Win It
Grabsch wins the stage, flying Evans re-takes the race lead

"Grabsch is huge!!" — colin flockton
13 Big Photos from Stage 4sirotti and colin flockton

June 10 update: Cadel Evans showed again today that he has come to this Critérium Dauphiné Libéré to win. Evans stormed the long crono between Bourg-lès-Valence and Valence, and won back the leader's jersey he lost to Niki Terpstra yesterday. Evans caught his two-minute man, Inigo Landaluze, and had the fastest time of the day at the 2nd intermediate check. Though he did not win the stage, Evans leads Alberto Contador by :45 seconds in the general classification and last year's race winner Alejandro Valverde by 1:54. With four mountain stages to come, it will be no easy task for Evans to defend his race lead, but clearly, the Australian has brought good form to this race.

As expected, the stage win went to a specialist today. Bert Grabsch of Columbia-High Road is the current World Champion against the watch and rode the course in an average speed of 49.5 km/hr. The shorter distance of the opening time trial in Nancy did not suit Grabsch, but given more than 40 kilometers to race, German showed why he is a specialist in the discipline. Though Grabsch trailed Evans at the intermediate time check, he made up the difference during the final 20 kilometers of the course. Grabsch won the stage by 7 seconds over Evans. David Millar of Garmin-Slipstream finished third on the stage, 39 seconds behind, while Frantisek Rabon of Columbia-High Road was fourth at 40 seconds. Alberto Contador trailed Grabsch by 44 seconds and placed fifth on the stage.

For Niki Terpstra, who began the day in the yellow jersey of race leader, the day proved disastrous. Terpstra began well enough, but mechanical problems derailed him. After a bike change, the Milram rider finished on his road bike and forfeited 5:30 to the stage winner, Grabsch. Stage racing is a rough business, sometimes. One day you win, the next, you get nothing.

Here is the current general classification:

1. Cadel Evans Silence-Lotto
2. Alberto Contador Astana :45
3. Bert Grabsch Columbia-High Road :48
4. Frantisek Rabon Columbia-High Road 1:07
5. David Millar Garmin-Slipstream 1:09
6. Stef Clement Rabobank 1:33
7. Sébastian Rosseler Quick Step 1:33
8. Alejandro Valverde Caisse dÉpargne 1:54
9. Koos Mourenhout Rabobank 2:01
10. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel Euskadi 2:07

As expected the long time trial today overturned the general classification, but the current standings will not likely survive the end of tomorrow's mountain-top finish. Time trial specialists currently crowd the top ten. Look for riders like Grabsch to drop down the classification, while climbers steadily gain ground between now and the finish in Grenoble.

At the top of the leader board, Cadel Evans of Silence-Lotto now leads Alberto Contador Astana by 45 seconds. Thanks to his strong crono today, Bert Grabsch of Columbia-High Road moved up to third in the general classification. A crono specialist, Grabsch will not enjoy the mountain stages, and is unlikely to hold his high placing in the general. Likewise for his team-mate Frantisek Rabon, who currently sits fourth overall.

After his third placed ride today, David Millar, meanwhile, moves up to fifth in the general classification. Why not a top ten finish for Millar in Grenoble? Much depends on whether Millar brought his climbing legs to the race this year, as it's all uphill from here. Last year's winner Alejandro Valverde, meanwhile, now sits eighth at 1:54. Valverde will need a big ride to overtake Evans, but should find the terrain of the next four stages to his liking. Unlike Contador, who may choose to hold something in reserve for the Tour, Valverde will race all-out here for the general classification.

Further down, Vincenzo Nibali sits 11th at 2:12. The all-arounder from Liquigas-Doimo should ride well in the mountains and pull himself back into the top ten. A podium finish is likely out of reach for Nibali, but his attacking style could win him a stage later this week. Nibali's team mate Ivan Basso, suffered a disastrous opening crono, marred as it was by mechanical problems. Basso is 32nd in the general classification, but should move up in the mountain stages. Climber Robert Gesink of Rabobank, currently 15th, is 2:38 down on Evans, but will ride well as the the Dauphiné Libéré hits the high mountains. We can expect to see him at the front tomorrow on the Ventoux, and he should steadily ride back into the top ten in the general classification.

In the points classification, Evans leads with 71 points. Contador is second with 46. Rémi Pauriol still leads the mountains classification with 20 points, after his long day out in the breakaway yesterday. Pauriol will not find it easy to keep his lead, when the Dauphiné Libéré heads into the high mountains tomorrow. Cadel Evans is second with 8 points.

Into the Mountains

Tomorrow, the Critérium Dauphiné Libéré finishes on high, at the summit of the Géant de Provence, Mont Ventoux. Four categorized climbs provide an hors d'oeuvre for the hors catégorie finale. Only the strongest climbers will enjoy tomorrow's finish, which requires 22.7 kilometers of uninterrupted climbing. The average gradient for the Ventoux is around 8%, and several sections pitch up to 10%.

Cadel Evans and Alberto Contador, separated by 45 seconds in the general classification, should wage a fierce battle here. Contador has typically ridden better in the high mountains than the Australian, but Evans has plainly brought good form to this Dauphiné Libéré. Last year's winner, Alejandro Valverde will need to attack, and attack again, in these mountain stages. He needs to bring back nearly 2:00 from Cadel Evans. No easy task.

Meanwhile, we can also expect attacks from the pure climbers, who would surely like to add Mont Ventoux to their palmarès. Climber Robert Gesink of Rabobank showed good form in the crono, finishing 13th. Gesink always rides better when the road turns up and will likely be on the attack tomorrow. Young French favorite Rémi DiGrégorio has shown signs of big talent in the mountains, but has yet to achieve a big win. No time like the present. Dan Martin of Slipstream-Garmin, meanwhile, comes to the Dauphiné Libéré after placing second overall (behind Alejandro Valverde) at the hilly Vuelta a Cataluña. Martin is not involved in the battle for the general classification at this race, and might find room to ride in the high mountains. Certainly, he has the talent for climbing, though it may be too soon yet for a big win like Ventoux. Martin rides his second season as a professional this year, and will likely ride the Tour de France for the first time in July.

It should be quite a battle tomorrow on the Ventoux and offer a tantalizing preview of the finale of this year's Tour de France.

To read more about tomorrow's stage, please turn the page.

Course Preview

Stage 4: Bourg-Lès-Valence — Valence 42.4 km Individual Time Trial

For this stage, the Dauphiné Libéré presents the riders with a Tour-length long time trial. Little wonder that the Tour favorites so often use the Dauphiné as a warm-up race for the July grand tour. This long time trial gives the riders a nice opportunity to check bikes and positions and remember just how it feels to race 40 kilometers against the watch. Ouch?

The course begins in Bourg-Lès-Valence, just outside the city of Valence on the Rhône River. The start is on the Chémin de Saint-Barthélémy, the finish on the avenue Félix-Faure in Valence. The first 7 kilometers are flat, followed by a climbing false flat that gains 100 meters over 10 kilometers. There is one category 4 climb, which summits at kilometer 22.4. The climb covers 3.2 kilometers and rises 89 meters. After the climb, the course descends gradually over the next ten kilometers. The final ten kilometers are flat.

The crono specialists should ride well on this course, as the climb is not especially difficult and the course is mainly flat. This crono is as traditional as the long crono at the Giro d’Italia was unique. Riders to watch here include: Bert Grabsch of Columbia-High Road, Frantisek Rabon of Columbia-High Road, David Millar of Garmin-Slipstream, Laszlo Bodrogi of Katusha, Stef Clement of Rabobank, and Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas-Doimo. This crono also offers a hint at the form of Tour favorites like Cadel Evans of Silence-Lotto and Alberto Contador of Astana.

Gavia (updates to this preview will be made during the race and especially the day before the stage with current analysis)<-->