• Pavel Sivakov leads the way for Team INEOS at the Criterium du Dauphine (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Pavel Sivakov (Team INEOS) has denied that the team is weak in the face of Jumbo-Visma's dominance at the Criterium du Dauphine, saying there's a long time to go until the Tour de France.
SBS Cycling Central

15 Aug 2020 - 9:50 AM  UPDATED 15 Aug 2020 - 9:51 AM

Team INEOS has been active at the front of the peloton at the Criterium du Dauphine, going to the front of the race in their normal 'mountain train' style but it hasn't been an effective a tactic as in the past. 

Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome is making his way back to full fitness after his horrific crash in Dauphine recon last year, Geraint Thomas hasn't made the summit finishes and Egan Bernal hasn't been quite the match of Primož Roglič when it comes to the finale.

Indeed, Bernal sits seventh currently on the standings, just one of many at present just behind the level of the Slovenian Vuelta a Espana winner.

A bright light has been Pavel Sivakov, who has elevated himself above Froome and Thomas after strong showings at an altitude training camp prior to the restart of racing. Sivakov finished three seconds ahead of Bernal on Stage 3.

"In the finish, the sprint started and I didn't see that he was dropped," said Sivakov or finishing ahead of his team leader. "I carried on and with maybe 100 metres to go, I looked back and saw that he was dropped. 

"Maybe I should have waited for him and paced him to the final. But that's how it is. Egan had a hard day in the end but it's not a problem. He's here after two hard races, I'm sure he's just fine for the Tour."

The Cadel Evans Road Race runner-up might even be a dark horse contender for the Tour de France, but for the moment Sivakov was content to speak to his teammate's condition and why they aren't matching it with Jumbo-Visma at present.

"You have to understand we did big blocks of training, now we're racing and maybe we need to top up our shape in these races," said Sivakov. "It's still a long way to the Tour de France, especially the third week. We've really got time, we don't need to stress and worry."

Stages 4 and 5 look well suited to see some early action in the fight for the general classification, with hard early climbing potentially offering the opportunity for teams to isolate Roglič.

Stage 4 of the Criterium du Dauphine will be broadcast on SBS VICELAND from 11.05pm AEST Saturday August 15.