As a heatwave rolled through France and intensified in the south this weekend, the effect was clear on the jerseys of the riders who’d hauled themselves up to Vaujany to finish stage 7 of the Critérium du Dauphiné. Panels of black, blue, red, and yellow were splashed with cracked white.
The salt that caked the lycra was the remnants of a day’s sweat. With two high-altitude mountain passes and a sharp summit finish, all played out in temperatures in excess of 30 degrees, there was a lot of it.
The heat didn’t just colour the jerseys but also the race. Stage winner Carlos Verona didn’t seem to mind, and nor did Primož Roglič, who took the yellow jersey with a late attack from the group of favourites. However, it certainly held others back.
“I just cooked a bit in the sun, to be honest,” Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) said.
The Briton, who came here without much training or preparation in the legs, still managed to place ninth on the stage, moving him up to fourth overall. However, had the temperatures been 10 degrees cooler, it could perhaps have been a different story.
“I kind of felt there was more legs, but the system was overheating,” he explained. “I could really react to the attacks, which was a shame. Then I held the same pace as them for the next two kilometres or whatever, but it’s ok, not too bad.
“The DS was sat in the bus this morning saying it would be 24 degrees but I saw 36 at one point, and it’s over 30 right now. You can train for it, but racing the Tour of Norway in 2 degrees wasn’t idea. But it’s alright. That’s life. Another day tomorrow.”
Another rider who took a hit from the sun was Movistar’s Matteo Jorgenson, who, like Geoghegan Hart, has pale, freckled skin.
“My genetics are basically not ready for heat,” the US rider told Cyclingnews. “My ancestors were probably from somewhere in the north, used to the cold. In the heat the body has to overcompensate.”
Although dropped before Geoghegan Hart he experienced a similar phenomenon. He didn’t blow up, but had no change of pace.
“I actually felt pretty good all day until that last climb. Just that heat. My heart rate started to go way up and I couldn’t follow. I let the wheel go and just did my effort.”
Jorgenson, who placed 14th on the stage to maintain his 8th place position overall, was not caught unawares by the heat. In fact, it’s something he’s worked extensively on.
“I’ve spent the last few months working on it and reading the science. I end up having really high sweat rate. I lose a lot of water and I lose a lot of salt in that water, so it’s kind of double whammy,” he explained.
“What I have to do is drink a tonne - multiple bottles every hour - and then I take salt pills every hour. I try and get between 1300 and 1700 milligrams of salt, so over a gram of salt per hour. That seems to help. Today I just didn’t quite get enough water, but that’s complicated.”
The heatwave is not going anywhere fast, with similar temperatures expected on Sunday. Nor does the terrain get any easier. The mid-race climbs on Sunday’s final stage may not be as towering as Saturday’s Galibier and Croix de Fer, but the summit finish at Plateau de Solaison is a different beast to the short hike up to Vaujany.
Ominously for Jumbo-Visma’s rivals, second-placed Vingegaard revealed: “Both Primoz and myself are really good in the heat.”
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*
Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
after your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59
Join now for unlimited access
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.