• Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) cools down during a torrid Stage 5 of the Criterium du Dauphine (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
As the race came closer and closer to the finale and a last-ditch attempt by Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) came up short, it became clear that Daniel Martinez (EF Education First) would take his maiden WorldTour stage race win.
By
SBS Cycling Central

17 Aug 2020 - 11:55 AM 

Primož Roglič's (Jumbo-Visma) decision to abandon the Criterium du Dauphiné ahead of the final stage threw the proverbial cat among the pigeons as suddenly the strongest team in the race would be working to break things up rather than keep them together. 

The situation promised fireworks as Pinot's lesser Groupama-FDJ inherited the responsibility for controlling the attacks. Aggression flowed thick and fast from the beginning of the stage, with a brutal procession of early climbs used to string out the peloton and create a select group off the front of the race. Numerous big names, including Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Mclaren) failed to hold onto the front group and tumbled down the general classification standings by race end.

Riders protest dangerous conditions at Dauphine
The Criterium du Dauphine peloton protested poor road conditions at the race with a go-slow for the first few kilometres of the final stage of the race.
Dauphiné blown apart on final stage as Martinez takes overall
The final stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné saw thrills aplenty as the general classification candidates went all out for victory in a final bid for overall honours. Daniel Martinez (EF Education First) made the most of a late move to secure overall victory.

Pavel Sivakov (Team INEOS) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) attacked to form a leading duo, before being joined by Martinez in an attack from the pursuing second group on the road, leaving behind Pinot and other favourites.

Pinot had limited cooperation within the move and was visibly frustrated at stages. He tried a big attack on the final climb to the finish in Megeve, but ran out of steam after an impressive start, and Martinez was able to hold on to finish second on the stage behind Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) and secure the overall race win.

"It’s one of the most amazing days of my life," said Martinez after the win. "It’s one of the most important races and I’m just so happy to have achieved it.

"I’m still so tired from the race and still can’t quite believe that it’s happened. It’s incredible, the last race we raced was in Colombia and we won and then we’ve won here today too at the Dauphiné.

"Without doubt I want to say that this race is for all my family and my little boy, this win is for them. This is for all the people who have believed in me and the ones who have helped support me for me to be able to arrive at this point."

Jonathan Vaughters, CEO of EF Education First Cycling described how Martinez had developed to the point of becoming the winner of a prestigious race like the Dauphine.

"When we signed Dani in 2018 off a pro-continental team, it’s fair to say he’d been overlooked," said Vaughters. "That happens all the time in this sport. But Rigo recommended him to me, and he believed in Dani.

"And after a few years of working together it’s clear it was a chance worth taking. Dani put in the hard yards to get himself to this level, and his style suits this team perfectly. I couldn’t be happier for him and for the entire team — notably our Colombian contingent of riders and fans."

Pinot had started the 153km stage with a 10-second lead over fellow countryman Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) and a 12-second buffer over Martínez, but in a frenetic final day of racing, he was unable to follow the succession of attacks when first Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), then Kuss and Martinez surged away to the winning move on the Côte de Domancy with a little under 25km to race.

“I failed to achieve the goal we set ourselves this morning. I'm just disappointed," said Pinot to L'Equipe after the stage. “I didn't have the right legs. I didn't do what I needed to do to win. I can only blame myself.”

“There was attacking right from the start, and very quickly, only the leaders were left, from the first climb. I used up a lot of bullets at the start of the stage, and that's what I was lacking at the end.”

“I thought I had good legs, that I wasn't too bad... But when they attacked at the start of the Côte de Domancy, I didn't respond at all. It took me a long time to get back into it, but it was already too late, there was already more than a minute of a gap. I was annoyed with myself.”

Pinot finished second overall and will head into the Tour de France as one of the favourites in a field that is clouded with uncertainty after a number of contenders suffered injuries during the Dauphine and had to retire from the race.

“I rarely finished a stage as tired as this,” said Pinot. "In the end, my condition is good. You don’t get second in a race as hard as this without feeling good. But I was missing something to win in the finale and what I’ll take away this evening is that that I didn’t have the legs to win the Dauphiné.”

SBS will broadcast every minute of every stage of the 2020 Tour de France, check out the full details here.