Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) has endured an inconsistent season but he is finding his form at just the right time with the Tour de France under a month away. The American suffered through a number of early season races and was forced out of the Tour of California due to illness. However, he bounced back to win the US national time trial championships last month.
Stage 5 sees the race enter the mountains for the first time with a 161-kilometre stage from Digne-les-Bains to Pra Loup. As far as Tour de France preparation goes, it's as perfect as it gets with the stage set to replicated in July on stage 17.
"I really don't know [the final climb] it but we have Andreas Klier here and Bingen Fernandez, and they've done all their research and will explain what it's like to us," Talansky told Cyclingnews as he warmed down after stage 4.
"I'm looking forward to the stage though because it's exactly the same as the one at the Tour de France. That's the whole point of this race. Obviously any results here are welcome but it's about finishing and adding to the preparation for July."
As the defending champion in a WorldTour event there is an air of responsibility on Talansky's shoulders but the American is approaching the upcoming mountain stages with a pragmatic outlooks.
"I'm here to do the best ride that I can with the fitness that I have right now," he said when asked about his aspirations for the Dauphiné GC.
"What that will be, we'll see. I like the look of stage 7, on paper, and I get better as the race goes on. Stage 5, everyone will still be a little fresh. We have Dan Martin for stage 5 but stage 7 is where I expect to feel pretty good... but this race can be won anywhere. We saw last year when I won. Some of the more unassuming stages can set the stage for some dramatic racing. On paper, I think that stage 7 will be important no matter what but we have to wait and see."
Last year's victory at the Dauphiné saw Talansky mooted as a potential top-five rider for the Tour de France. Unfortunately for him, and his team, he didn't make it to Paris and was forced out of the race through a series of crashes.
His preparation this year, along with some setbacks, may see the American go through a slower build up in terms of form.
"The Dauphiné comes in a different point in everyone's preparation. If you saw Vincenzo [Nibali] last year, he wasn't flying here and people were doubting him for the Tour. Then you saw him dominate in July. Everyone has their own way of building up to it.
"I would say I'm more on track for a great July. What that means right now I don't know. It depends on how everyone else is but I would say that I'm feeling more confident this time than I was last year going into the Tour.
"Every year is different. The whole spring didn't work out as I would have hoped. I got sick ahead of California but I had some time to re-group and got things back in the right direction by winning the national time trial."
Cannondale-Garmin as a whole seem to be finally finding their footing after a poor start the season. They won a stage in the Giro d'Italia and Ryder Hesjedal secured another top-10 finish in the race after a number of dogged displays in the mountains.
"I won the national time trial, Davide Formolo won a stage in the Giro and Ryder Hesjedal finished high in the Giro. The results are starting to come, it's just that they took a little longer then we would have liked."