Remco Evenepoel sits in the Dauphiné TT hot seat.

Dauphiné overreaction time: TT victory means Remco Evenepoel will win the Tour de France, obviously

Feel that? The weight of an entire nation lugged onto Remco's slight shoulders.

How hot will that seat be if Evenepoel wins the Dauphiné?

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 05.06.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
More from Jonny +

What is the Critérium du Dauphiné for if not to whet our appetites for the Tour de France?

The Dauphiné has no problem with this. Its yellow and various other leaders’ jerseys and television graphics are clearly borrowed from its much larger, older brother. Potential Tour climbs – even entire stages – are often trialled within the safety of the week-long race, and, of course, Tour GC candidates are also present to test out their legs in familiar climes to the June/July contest.

While the two big favourites – Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease a Bike) – are absent (and anyway it’s far too gauche for the Dauphiné to be a complete pre-run of the Tour), the pair of challengers a rung down from the top dogs are here. One of them, at the first opportunity of Wednesday’s stage 4 time trial, put in a performance that’ll make the duo who’ve closed out the last three Tour podiums sit up and take notice.

After Ineos Grenadiers’ Josh Tarling set a seemingly superlative time with only the second effort out of the start hut, more than a minute quicker than all would be challengers before the top 10, only Remco Evenepoel, the TT world champion would pip him, by 17 seconds, to take the race lead.

Bora-Hansgrohe’s Primož Roglič, the other second-tier challenger present, was another 22 seconds down on Tarling, and so has a 33 second deficit to Soudal-Quick Step’s Evenepoel. Visma-Lease a Bike’s Matteo Jorgenson impressed in fourth and was the next closest at 1:07.

The Tour is so big that even Evenepoel’s star shrinks in its shadow. Heading into this Dauphiné week, he was at pains to explain this week was all about work before he stands as the David beneath, respectively, the injured and Giro-lumbered Goliaths of Vingegaard and Pogačar. After his win, Evenepoel admitted his day had gone better than planned, but that he still has “a lot of work to do” with the mountains left, and is getting in true Tour-shape by trotting out the promise he’ll be taking the rest of the race “day-by-day.”

Remco Evenepoel during the 2024 Critérium du Dauphiné time trial.
Remco Evenepoel during the 2024 Critérium du Dauphiné time trial.

For Belgium, or even for those willing an upstart to break the Pogačar/Vingegaard yellow jersey duopoly of the past four years, this time trial victory will be the entrée to a Remco-shaped hype train. Should he persist in the mountains and hold on to the Dauphiné’s yellow jersey, we’ll have another couple of weeks to talk him up before the Tour start in Florence. Triple-backed HC/Cat 1 summit finishes Friday through Sunday will dictate the genre of question the Belgian fields ad nauseam as he tries to prepare for the biggest moment of his career so far, his debut Tour de France.

With the likes of Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates), Tao Geoghegan Hart (Lidl-Trek) and Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers) all putting in acceptable TT performances, they sit roughly a minute and a half behind Evenepoel in the GC. Hopefully, this will entice some attacking racing when the gradients hit. More likely, it will induce an Evenepoel/Roglič slugfest to decide who gets a better taste of yellow during this rehearsal.

What did you think of this story?