Vincenzo Nibali appeared to be returning to top form ahead of the Dauphine, with the Tour de France the target for last year’s Giro d’Italia winner.
And when he joined the stage two attack instigated by Chris Froome, things certainly appeared to be looking up. But the Italian’s challenge came to an abrupt end as once again the sharp gradients of a relatively moderate climb became his undoing.
Having become a new father this year, some have suggested his preparations have been hampered – whatever the cause, his slide needs to be arrested ahead of the Tour. Ultimately, at the Dauphine, he did finish ahead of Chris Froome – by five places in fact – overall but the GC fails to tell the full story.
Among the best GC men, undoubtedly, but Nibali never looked like winning the Dauphine.
Scant consolation will come from the fact Jakob Fuglsang looks in good shape – though again, not race-winning – but Nibali faces a big task come July if he wants to better his 2012 Tour third place.