Richie Porte of BMC Racing has won the race against the clock in Criterium du Dauphiné. The former Australian time trial champion produced a brilliant performance to put distance between himself and his GC rivals and beat world time trial champion Tony Martin into second place; with Alejandro Valverde producing the third quickest time on the day.
Stage 4 of Criterium du Dauphiné was the long awaited individual time trial. The course took the field 23.5km on a rolling course from Latour-du-Pin to Bourgoin-Jallieu. A couple of technical turns featured en route, but so too did some sweeping downhill sections that riders would seek to take advantage of in the hunt for the stage win or, more crucially for some, time in the general classification.
Tony Martin sets early pace
Going into the stage world time trial champion Tony Martin had to be considered one of the favourites for the win, although he’d yet to win a stage against the clock in the 2017 season. He began the day 65th overall for Katusha-Alpecin and comfortably set the fastest time out on the course. His intermediate split time was 14.31 mins as 13km and he would finally stop the clock in a time of 28.19mins; a major gauntlet set down by the German.
The general classification was of major interest to most though and gradually the riders began to set out on the course; with basically all the major contenders starting at the same 1.09min deficit to the yellow jersey of Thomas De Gendt. Alberto Contador of Trek-Segafredo was one of the more promising riders against the clock as he stopped the clock in 28.42mins. His time looked the best of the early GC contenders as the likes of Andrew Talansky, Nicolas Roche, Daniel Martin, Fabio Aru and more all slotted in a little way behind him. But it was Richie Porte who would blow everything out of the water for BMC Racing and leave his GC rivals with much to be desired.
Porte a Tour contender?
Porte began the stage strongly, looking very comfortable out on course, and going through the first intermediate check just 2 seconds down on Tony Martin. Instead of losing time in the second section of the course Porte only gained time though, as he powered onwards to the finish to stop the clock in an impressive 28.07mins; denying Tony Martin a first time trial stage win of the season by 12 seconds.
Chris Froome of Team Sky headed out on the course and also set about challenging the early time of Porte, only finding himself 10 seconds down on Porte after the first time check. But unlike Porte who got better as the stage progressed, Froome went the other way, stopping the clock in 28.44mins, 37 seconds slower than the Australian former teammate and 2 seconds slower than Alberto Contador.
De Gendt rescues yellow jersey
Alejandro Valverde of Movistar was the next most impressive GC rider after Richie Porte. He set an intermediate split that was slower than Froome, going through the first check in 14.51mins. The Spaniard crossed the line 24 seconds down on Porte, but importantly 11 seconds faster than Contador and 13 seconds faster than Froome. Pierre Latour of AG2R La Mondiale also posted a strong time in the best young rider’s jersey.
But it was the ride of Thomas De Gendt which could be considered one of the other highlights of the day. The overall leader needed to finish with no slower a time than 29.16mins. The Belgian achieved that comfortably as he caught Axel Domont who began the stage second overall and eventually crossed the line in 28.49mins. De Gendt would maintain the overall lead by 27 seconds ahead of Richie Porte, 51 seconds ahead of Alejandro Valverde and still over a minute quicker than the rest of the GC contenders.
Dion Smith of Wanty-Groupe Gobert set a time of 31.27mins, which placed him 119th on the stage, faster than Petr Vakoc, Alexander Kristoff, Luke Rowe and more.
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