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.
At one stage, a group containing Martinez and Porte were behind the front group of Pinot, but EF Education First were able to bring their general classification rider back to the front. Porte was part of the group that rejoined before the third climb of the day, the Col de la Colombière.
Numerous big names, including Porte, Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic), Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Mclaren) failed to hold onto the front group after a further acceleration and all of them tumbled down the general classification standings by race end.
“We knew it would be a different race with Roglic not starting the stage," said Trek-Segafredo sports director Kim Andersen after the stage finish. "Jumbo-Visma exploded the race right on the first climb with Wout Van Aert pulling full gas, with also Dumoulin and Sepp Kuss in that group.
"All the favorites were there as was Richie but then on the bottom of the second climb, he was a bit behind. Martinez (EF Education First) was also dropped at that point but they pulled and made it to the front on that second KOM."
"Richie also bridged and made it back but later on he exploded. In the end, it was a nice bike race between the leaders and unfortunately, we were not there."
"We were going for a good GC result in this Dauphiné and we knew that if Richie could follow we would achieve it. Today we saw that a lot of riders exploded but I did not expect it to go like this.”
Porte finished 12 minutes and 16 seconds behind stage winner Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), and slipped to 15th on the general classification, from eighth the day before.