Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the 8th and final stage of the Criterium du Dauphine.
As we join the race, it is rolling through the neutral zone away from Saint-Alban-Leyesse where the small town had marked the Dauphiné’s arrival with a parade of local cyclists and strings of yellow, green, white, and polka dot jerseys.
A short, sharp route through the Alps awaits the peloton today as they will tackle four categorised climbs and finish atop the hors categorie Plateau de Solaison.
Ahead of this decisive stage, Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) is in the yellow jersey and holds a 44 second advantage over his teammate Jonas Vingegaard. Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën) rounds out the podium at 1:24 while Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos-Grenadiers) sits a further six seconds back at 1:30.
Even with this buffer, Roglič is far from guaranteed overall victory as his career has been punctuated by a series of last-day losses in stage races including at the 2020 Dauphiné, 2020 Tour de France and 2021 Paris-Nice. If he can hang on today, he will secure his first overall victory at the Dauphiné.
The peloton have passed the flag drop and are racing! Almost immediately, they begin ascending the Col de Plainpalais – an 8.2km long Category 1 climb with an average gradient of 6.5%. It last featured in the Dauphiné in 2012 where it again marked the start of the stage. Nairo Quintana won that day, while Bradley Wiggins took the overall victory.
On the slopes of the Col de Plainpalais, Sebastian Schönberger (B&B Hotels-KTM) launches the day’s first attack while, at the back of the peloton, Heinrich Haussler (Bahrain Victorious) is distanced.
Continuing the pattern of other stage races this season, the breakaway has reigned supreme at the Dauphiné, winning three of the six road stages in the race. As such, there is a fierce contest for today’s breakaway happening at the moment.
13 riders, including Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-KTM) and three teammates, have built an advantage of 10 seconds over the peloton.
It is a beautiful Alpine day, and the heat may well play a role later. Matteo Jorgensen (Movistar) and Tao Geoghegan Hart both said they struggled in these temperatures yesterday.
🚩 C’est parti pour l’étape 8 du #Dauphiné !🚩 Stage 8 is underway! pic.twitter.com/OkQPlowCTfJune 12, 2022
The breakaway currently consists of Gregor Muhlberger (Movistar), Bruno Armirail, Michael Storer (Groupama-FDJ), Mikkel Honoré (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), George Bennett (UAE Team Emirates), Julien Bernard, Antwan Tolhoek (Trek-Segafredo), Jan Hirt (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Franck Bonnamour, Eliot Lietaer, Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-KTM) and Eddie Dunbar (Ineos-Grenadiers).
The race has by no means settled yet, however, and the breakaway is still finding its configuration. It has opened up an advantage of 25 seconds over the Jumbo-Visma controlled peloton.
Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo) and Simon Geschke (Cofidis) are attempting to bridge across to the breakaway which now also contains Matteo Fabbro (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Antwan Tolhoek (Trek-Segafredo). The race is now just under two kilometres from the summit of the Col de Plainpalais.
As the race approaches the summit, the breakaway’s lead stretches to 35 seconds. Julien Bernard has been dropped by the breakaway, while the peloton too has fractured into various fractions.
At the top of the climb, Rolland took the maximum ten points and extended his lead in the King of Mountains competition. Rolland now has 69 points and a sizeable advantage over second placed Carlos Verona (Movistar) who has 21.
As the race heads downhill, several riders who were dropped on the climb are making their way back to the peloton.
It’s been a bit of a frantic start with the composition of the breakaway changing quite a lot. There are now 14 riders up the road with a gap of 1:50. They are Eddie Dunbar, Laurens De Plus (Ineos Grenadiers), Matteo Fabbro (Bora-Hansgrohë), Bruno Armirail, Michael Storer (Groupama-FDJ), George Bennett (UAE Team Emirates), Antonio Tiberi, Kenny Elissonde, Antwan Tolhoek (Trek-Segafredo), Simon Geschke (Cofidis), Alexis Vuillermoz (TotalEnergies), Jan Hirt (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Franck Bonnamour, and Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-KTM).
Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) is in between the two groups, 30 seconds behind the breakaway.
The race is now approaching the second climb of the day – the Col de Leschaux which is 7.9km long with an average gradient of 4.5%. After this climb, there is some respite for the riders with a 40km stretch of valley roads.
The peloton seem content to let this breakaway build up an advantage. It is being led by Jumbo-Visma as they control the race for Roglič.
14 hommes ont pris le large à l’avant et possèdent 2’25” d’avance sur le groupe #MaillotJauneLCL, où la @JumboVismaRoad assure le tempo !💛#Dauphiné pic.twitter.com/SALtVlcpVBJune 12, 2022
Izagirre has made the junction on the lower slopes of the Col de Leschaux and joins the breakaway at the head of the race.
Rolland once again mops up the maximum two King of the Mountains points available at the top of this third category climb.
The next climb is a mighty one – the Col de la Colombière. It is one of France’s most famous climbs as it frequently appears in the Tour de France and its 11.8km long slopes could well prove decisive today. But first, there is a long, flat approach of about 45km to its foot.
The gap between the peloton and breakaway is holding steady at 2:15.
The Tour de France begins in three weeks and though the Dauphiné is a prestigious race in its own right, its main function is as a warm-up race for the Tour. The Tour de Suisse, another race important as preparation for the Tour’s overall contenders, starts today. You can follow live coverage of its first stage here.
Temperatures out on the course are hitting 28°C and so teams have posted soigneurs all along the roadside to make sure riders stay hydrated.
☀️ Hot day?Stage 8 #Dauphine #UAETeamEmirates #WeAreUAE pic.twitter.com/3Ki1biVhK0June 12, 2022
Simon Geschke is the best placed rider overall in the breakaway. He sits in 21st place, 5:19 behind Roglič.
The breakaway’s advantage is at 2:07. It has remained relatively constant for the last fifty kilometres.
As well as the general classification, the other classifications will be decided today. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) holds a 14 point lead in the green jersey competition, while Tobias Halland Johannessen (Uno-X Pro Cycling) is a second ahead of Matteo Jorgensen (Movistar) in the white jersey competition. Rolland is in the breakaway today, seeking to secure the polka dot jersey.
Although the Col de la Colombière has not technically started yet, the road is already climbing upwards. In seven kilometres, the breakaway will contest the intermediate sprint at Le Grand-Bornand and the Colombière will begin in earnest.
Jumbo-Visma have marshalled their strength to control the stage so far.
The breakaway’s advantage has started to fall on this uncategorised climb and is now at 1:38.
Bahrain Victorious settle into position behind Jumbo-Visma in the peloton. They are protecting the fifth place of Damiano Caruso and eighth place of Jack Haig.
The breakaway don’t contest the intermediate sprint and just roll through. Their advantage is 1:31 now.
On the lower slopes of the Col de la Colombière, the breakaway starts to split into smaller groups as Groupama-FDJ increases the pace.
Rolland is among those riders who have been dropped by the breakaway. Groupama’s injection of pace has pulled away a group of five riders comprising Eddie Dunbar, Michael Storer, Bruno Armirail, George Bennet and Kenny Elissonde. Their advantage over the peloton has increased to 2:08.
The leading quintet continue to increase their lead to 2:22 on the Col de la Colombière.
Armirail is sacrificing himself for his teammate Storer who won two stages of the Vuelta a España back in September while Chris Harper is controlling the peloton for Jumbo-Visma.
Amirail has finally cracked and he swings off to the side of the road having completed his job for the day.
Tiesj Benoot now takes up the pace-setting duties for Jumbo-Visma as the peloton begin to catch the remnants of the breakaway.
Ethan Hayter, who began the day 2:43 down in 14th place overall, has been distanced by the peloton while his teammate De Plus rejoins the front of the race.
As the breakaway crests the Colombière, its ranks increase with the addition of Hirt and De Plus but the peloton are eating into the advantage which is now 1:28.
It is a fast, technical descent down into the valley and the race then tackles the final climb of the day – the Plateau de Solaison.
The summit of the Col de la Colombière is beautiful. After all the noise on the climb, the descent is much quieter with only the sounds of bikes, race vehicles and birds singing.
⛰ Col de la Colombière (cat. 1) ⛰1️⃣ 🇧🇪@LaurensDePlus, 10 pts2️⃣ 🇮🇪@EddieDunbar, 8 pts3️⃣ 🇦🇺@mjstorer_au, 6 pts4️⃣ 🇳🇿@georgenbennett121, 4 pts5️⃣ 🇫🇷@KennyElissonde, 2 pts6️⃣ 🇨🇿@HirtJan, 1 pt#Dauphiné pic.twitter.com/grsioU7RLcJune 12, 2022
The breakaway have maintained their advantage on the descent and are still 1:24 ahead.
Van Aert is leading the peloton down the descent, choosing the safest lines and checking behind him to make sure his team are all safe.
The road has levelled out and on the flat, valley roads, the breakaway’s lead is already diminishing. It is now at 1:10.
De Plus is working on the front of the breakaway for his teammate Dunbar.
Back in the peloton, van Aert is still riding on the front for the yellow jersey Roglič and second placed overall Vingegaard.
There are just two kilometres until the foot of the final climb – the Plateau de Solaison which is 11.3km long with an average gradient of 9.2%. Still a relatively unknown climb that has only featured in two races – Stage 8 of the 2017 Dauphiné and Stage 4 of the 2014 Tour de l’Avenir – the Plateau de Solaison’s steep slopes offer no respite and some sections even reach 12%
The breakaway hit the Plateau de Solaison and on its steep 10% lower slopes, de Plus nearly comes to a standstill.
Van Aert is distanced too as the peloton begins its ascent.
Elissonde and Bennett are dropped from the breakaway. The leading trio now only have a lead of 59 seconds.
Hirt attacks his remaining breakaway companions. He continues to be impressive form following the Giro d’Italia where he finished in sixth place overall
Hirt’s acceleration has not quite distanced Dunbar and Storer who remain about twenty meters behind the Czech rider.
Steven Kruijswijk is on the front for Jumbo-Visma as the relentless pace begins to split the peloton. Warren Barguil is among those dropped.
Kruijswijk is the last domestique for Roglič and Vingegaard. He has closed the gap to the breakaway to just 39 seconds as Brandon McNulty and the white jersey Tobias Johannessen are distanced.
Storer has bridged across to Hirt but the peloton is bearing down upon them rapidly, just 25 seconds back.
Bennett too makes contact with the front of the race but the leading trio are just 14 seconds ahead of the peloton.
Geoghegan Hart and Caruso are beginning to lose contact with the group of favourites such is the pace being set by Kruijswijk.
Only Bennett remains out front, as the small group of favourites, about half of which are Jumbo-Visma riders, storm up the mountain.
And Kruijswijk makes contact with the backwheel of his old teammate Bennett. There are six riders in this group – Kruijswijk, Roglič, Vingegaard, O’Connor, Esteban Chaves and Jack Haig.
Chaves, Bennett and Haig are all now distanced from this group.
Vingegaard launches a blistering attack and only his teammate Roglič can follow. O’Connor is dropped but remains within touching distance.
Kruijswijk flashes a thumbs up at the motorbike camera after he ripped this race to pieces and set it up perfectly for his team leaders.
Vingegaard is pacing Roglič up the mountain; the Jumbo-Visma duo already have a 13 second gap over O’Connor.
The gap to O’Connor increases to 19 seconds. Haig and Chaves are a further thirty seconds behind O’Connor.
Roglič takes a turn on the front as he seemingly cruises to overall victory at this edition of the Dauphiné.
This has been an exceptionally impressive performance from Jumbo-Visma. They have dominated the race with two stage wins for Wout van Aert who is also in the green jersey.
The gap between the leading duo and O’Connor is stabilising at around 17 seconds.
Vingegaard has resumed his spot on the front as he confirms his second place overall too.
Roglič is very briefly distanced by Vingegaard but not for long and he rides up alongside his teammate.
Chaves has dropped Haig and has ridden himself into fourth place on the road.
Vingegaard looks behind at Roglič as they decide who will win the stage.
Jonas Vingegaard rides to the finish hand-in-hand with his teammate Primož Roglič to take the stage while Roglič takes the overall victory!
O’Connor finishes in third place on the road and third place overall too.
Chaves finishes in fourth with his teammate Ruben Guerreiro, 53 seconds behind Roglič and Vingegaard. A small group containing Caruso, Haig and Louis Meintjes finishes two seconds behind the EF Education-EasyPost pair.
“It was quite incredible,” Vingegaard said after the race. “We had the plan that I should attack and he [Roglič] should follow me and we wanted to see if we could drop everyone and we succeeded with that so I think we can be very happy and proud with what happened today.
“In the Ardennes Classics I didn’t have the best period but now I think I’m back at a really high level and for sure very happy about this. Of course, it is very very nice- it is one of the biggest races in the world. To win a stage and finish second overall is a very very nice result.”
“I think it would be hard for us to be 1-2 in the Tour because there are a few more riders. Pogačar is there, Martínez is there, Vlasov is there. There’s a lot more GC contenders so I think the competiton will be a bit harder and it is harder to win but we go for at least one of us trying to win the race.”
It is Roglič’s second stage race victory in France this year after he won Paris-Nice in March.
“For sure, I finally won some races in France so it’s super nice,” Roglič said at the finish. “It wasn’t just us two it was the whole team who had everything under control from the start. It was a hard start and they controlled all day just going one-by-one but all the guys did a superb job. Jonas was super strong on the last climb and it’s crazy, an incredible day for our team.”
“As you can see, things are going in the right direction so we can be confident. We have some more time, some more work to do and should be ready for the Tour.”
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