Friday's rain-drenched stage at the Critérium du Dauphiné quickly turned into a race of attrition where only the strongest favourites thrived and a grupetto of nearly 100 riders finished more than 36 minutes down. For Trek Factory Racing director Alain Gallopin, seeing his entire remaining roster of six riders finish in the final group provoked a public tongue lashing for his team.
“Honestly, to not have anyone in the top 50? I cannot accept this because they have the legs to be there,” a frustrated Gallopin said after the stage. “I understand that it was raining, but it’s raining for everybody, and it was not cold – it’s no excuse. Today is no excuse. I am a little bit tired about that. We have two more stages to go, and we need to find back our focus.”
Yaroslav Popovych did not start stage 6 due to illness, and Calvin Watson, who recently finished his first Grand Tour at the Giro d'Italia, pulled out after 60km. Gallopin had hoped his remaining riders would animate the stage and try for a win.
The 183km stage was aggressive from the early going, with multiple attacks whittling the final lead group down to a quartet of overall contenders. The pounding rain and pulsating action made an action-filled day of racing, but Gallopin's crew was not a part of it.
“I am disappointed because we made a plan this morning to have Matthew [Busche] or Riccardo [Zoidl] in the break,” he said. “I saw Markel [Irizar] and Fumy [Beppu] try to do something in the beginning, and after it turned into a big fight with the leaders. But I am disappointed with Markel, Riccardo and Matthew – when they try to do something they need to be with the 40 guys at the front. Excuse me, but for me this is difficult to accept.”
Aside from Busche, Zoidl, Irizar and Beppu, Trek also has Bauke Mollema and Haimar Zubeldia in the race. Gallopin said he expected Zubeldia to finish in the top 50 on the day, but he excused Mollema's result.
“For Bauke it’s different because he had a problem – and we are trying to fix it – and the focus for Bauke now is to finish the week better than the beginning and he is on the plan for the Tour de France,” Gallopin said.
“But I am especially not happy with Matthew and Riccardo today,” he continued. “In this kind of fight today from the beginning, when the leaders are not expected to fight and normally are tired, you must take your opportunity. It ended up being special today and the race never stopped, but I cannot accept that we were not in the front.”
The Critérium du Dauphiné continues Saturday with the 155km stage from Montmélian to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc, Le Bettex. The race concludes Sunday with a 156.5km stage from Saint-Gervais-les-Bains to Modane Valfréjus.