The Etixx-QuickStep rider, who also finished second at both Liége-Bastogne-Liége and Fléche-Wallonne, will get his first chance to stretch his legs during Sunday’s opening stage in Albertville.
The 131.5km circuit race includes multiple trips up the côte du Villard, a short-but-steep ascent that should give the pure sprinters trouble while suiting Alaphilippe’s skills quite well.
“I took part in the Dauphiné last year and it was difficult for me,” Alaphillipe said. “I should be in a better shape this time. I hope I have recovered well from the trip to California.”
Alaphillipe took the overall lead in California during the Queen stage that finished on Mt. Baldy, but he surrendered it on the final day to Sagan, who needed a time bonus in the final sprint to move into the race lead.
Despite his impressive showing so far this season, the 22-year-old Frenchman played down his chances in the Dauphine’s general classification.
“Mt. Baldy is an 8km long climb. It can't be compared to the climbs here, but actually, I don't have much experience in the Alps and the level at the Dauphiné is very high” Alaphilippe said. “It's going to be a test. I don't know what to expect but I want to test myself and to ride better than last year.”
Alaphilippe said the opening stage appears to suit him on paper and he hopes to contend for the win, but he has yet to check his post-California form or establish his place within QuickStep’s Dauphiné roster.
“David De La Cruz, who comes out of the Giro, has expressed ambitions for GC,” Alaphilippe said. “Maxime Bouet and Tony Martin can do something as well. I don't want to have any regret at the end of the week, but I also don't want to let myself get carried away.”
Alaphilippe got plenty of podium time in California. He's hoping for more at the Critérium du Dauphiné. (Tim de Waele/TDWSport)
Giant-Alpecin’s Daan Olivier, 22, leaves pro cycling
Giant-Alpecin announced this week that Daan Olivier, the 22-year-old Dutch rider who has been with the team since last season, has decided to leave professional cycling. Olivier and the team have agreed to terminate his contract as of July 1.
“I have signed up for a bachelor’s degree program in economics, which starts this September, and I am looking forward to this new challenge,” Olivier said. “I am confident that all the experience I have gained in cycling and with the team will be of good use in this new phase in my life. I will continue to ride my bike, but from now on as a hobby.”
Olivier started racing on the Continental level in 2011 with the former Rabobank development team. He moved to the WorldTour with Giant last year but said this week that overtraining in 2013 began to drain the fun out of the sport.
“I started to realize that there is more to life than professional sports,” he said. “Many sacrifices are needed to live the life of a professional athlete, and these sacrifices are difficult to make if the sport is no longer bringing you joy.”
Olivier raced 46 days with Giant last year, including starts at Pais Vasco, Fleche-Wallonie, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Clasica San Sebastian and il Lombardia, among others.
A crash this year at Volta a Catalunya during his 10th racing day of the season ultimately convinced Olivier to pursue his studies rather than continue in the professional peloton.
“I shared my thoughts with the team’s coaches and took some time away from racing to think,” he said. “I had many discussions with my coaches, teammates, friends and parents, and I concluded that I want to live my life differently and leave professional cycling to begin a new career.
“I would like to thank my teammates and the team staff for their support,” Olivier said. “It has been a difficult decision to make, but one that I believe is right for me.”
Team CEO Iwan Spekenbrink thanked Olivier for his commitment to the team, wishing him the best for the future and in his new career.
“Part of our philosophy is that we want our athletes to keep challenging themselves, and when we heard from Daan that his challenge was not in professional cycling anymore, we supported his choice,” Spekenbrink said. “We hope he will find his desired challenge in a new career.”
Daan Olivier leads the peloton. (Tim de Waele/TDWSport)
Kiserlovski will lead Tinkoff-Saxo at Critérium du Dauphiné
Robert Kiserlovski will lead Tinkoff-Saxo’s team of mountain specialists at the Critérium du Dauphiné with the goal of bringing home some stage wins and a good general classification result.
“We have a squad with good climbers, and this year's Dauphiné is quite demanding, especially the four last stages, which are mountain stages,” said team director Bruno Cenghialta. “Kiserlovski feels very confident about his current form, and he has worked very well recently. We will focus on him to achieve a good GC result.
“Jesper Hansen comes fresh from the overall victory in the Tour of Norway, and I think he can perform well on the climbs. So, with these two riders and guys like Chris Anker [Sørensen], [Bruno] Pires, [Edward] Beltran and [Pawel] Poljanski, I think we can realistically aim at a stage win,” said Cenghialta.
Other riders lining up for Tinkoff-Saxo include Evgeny Petrov and Jay McCarthy.
Although Kiserlovski is the team’s declared leader for the race, Cenghialta said Hansen could prove capable as well.
“According to the plan, Kiserlovksi will be our rider for the GC, but we might get another positive surprise from Jesper Hansen,” Cenghialta said. “He showed his form in Norway and his morale is without doubt high right now.”
Robert Kiserlovski will lead Tinkoff at Dauphiné, but Jesper Hansen could surprise as well. (Tim de Waele/TDWSport)
Gerdemann hangs on in Luxembourg
Linus Gerdemann faced a difficult defence of his leader’s jersey Saturday during stage 3 at the Tour de Luxembourg, but the 32-year-old German and his Cult Energy team held off a dangerous solo breakaway from Rodolfo Torres (Team Colombia), catching the determined escapee in the final metres to set up another field sprint win for Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).
“It was actually a pretty messy start of the stage with narrow roads and lumpy terrain, but the boys demonstrated sound judgment of the situation and eventually let seven riders go in a break,” said Cult Energy team director Luke Roberts.
As the field closed in on the breakaway, Torres jumped away to try a last-ditch effort to hold off the chase. It almost worked, but help from some of the sprinters’ team eventually pulled the Colombian back.
“I wouldn't call it a day in the office, but the chase never became chaotic,” Roberts said. “We wanted to hold them close in order to maintain control, and the boys worked hard throughout the day on the front to keep the front group in eyesight.
“Christian Mager did a lot of work in the first part of the stage but still he had enough left in the tank to pick up a [fifth-place] result for himself,” Roberts said.
“Linus finished safely in the bunch and holds onto the jersey. Tomorrow's stage will be tough in the beginning with several steep climbs but the way the boys are riding and the strength they're showing, we'll have a pretty good chance of putting the overall win in the pocket tomorrow.”
Linus Gerdemann leads the Tour de Luxembourg going into the final day. (Stiehl Photography)