Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) has predicted that the break could go all the way to the finish on stage 6 of the Criterium du Dauphine as the main GC contenders ready themselves for back-to-back stages in the mountains this weekend and continued to prepare for the rapidly approaching Tour de France.
Stage 6 between Saint-Vulbas and Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne includes eight climbs and a second category climb close to the finish, but the short but steep descent to the line could be the most crucial aspect of the stage.
Martin heads into stage 6 in 13th place on GC, 1:13 down on current race leader Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). The Irish rider put in a respectable time trial on stage 4 - despite being an eyewitness to Chris Froome's horrific fall but admits that the pace of racing this week has been perhaps higher than he expected.
When asked if he was ready for the weekend, Martin replied: "I don't know, my power is about right, we're going in the right direction. I usually ride myself in at the Dauphine but we haven't really had to the chance to do that this year, it's been so hard I definitely felt the time trial in my legs, along with cold weather and whatever."
Martin has been a consistent performer in the Dauphine over the years, winning a stage in 2018 and claiming top-ten places in GC in each of the last four seasons. He predicted that stage 6 would act as a GC appetizer before the main course of mountain stages on Saturday and Sunday.
"I don't think it’ll be much a GC test. I think everyone is expecting the break to go to the finish. There will be a lot of attacking at the start and I think it'll be a really hard stage but normally the GC battle will looking towards the weekend."
Martin came through stage 5 of the Dauphine unscathed with Wout Van Aert - the revelation of the race - winning for the second day in a row after claiming the stage 4 time trial with a devastating performance. For Martin, the aim is to race well and achieve a GC result, as he uses the Dauphine as his final warm-up race before the Tour de France.
"It was a nice day in the legs, stayed safe. It really felt like it in does in July, it felt like the Tour de France, the intensity at the end, the stress. That's why we come here to prepare for the Tour, it's the same roads, the peloton rides the same. You get the same feeling.
“I looked down (at the computer) about 70km to go and thought we'd be late at the finish today but we still finished on schedule. I think the last hour we must have done a 50km/h average. It's that same stress, fighting for position, on heavy roads, exactly as we face at the Tour de France. It's good to get that in the legs. Mentally as well, that's the mental preparation we come here for."