Critérium du Dauphiné (st. 4)
Nine-second split, with Alaphilippe / Froome / Dan Martin at the front, brings only news in windy, flat fifth day in Dauphiné; Herrada, Moreno remain in good places before mountains show up in style on Friday with Vaujany's (Cat-2) hill-top finish
What arguably looked like the most gentle route in the 2016 Critérium du Dauphiné, over 176km between Tain l'Hermitage and Belley, eventually became another demanding stage due to strong headwinds from the start, a threat the day's only three escapees –régional de l'étape Maxime Bouet (EQS) was the longest survivor, caught with only 4km to go- covered painfully to the point of covering just 61 kilometers in the opening two hours.
Looking for shelter against that menace and also some awful summer storms halfway through the day's racing, the Movistar Team riders got safely through the day, with no other scares but a split into the closing sprint -9" between the first half of the group, including Alaphilippe (EQS; 2nd behind stage winner Edvald Boasson Hagen), Froome (SKY) and Dan Martin (EQS), and the race leader-, which did not prevent Jesús Herrada from retaining his sixth spot overall, 27" behind Alberto Contador (TNK).
As well the Spaniard as his countryman Dani Moreno, who crossed the line two seconds before the yellow and now sits 1'11" back, tackle with good morale what will become the decisive trio of mountain stages, from Friday to Sunday. Stage five will finish atop Vaujany (Cat-2) after 140km from La Ravoire, which will feature no less than six other rated ascents, including the Col du Barrioz (Cat-1), in the early phase of the race.