A difficult 14-kilometer time trial around Bilbao opened the 2021 edition of the Tour of the Basque Country on Monday. This was already a first test for the GC contenders, so David Gaudu obviously tried to limit his losses. The French climber eventually lost a bit more than a minute to the winner Primoz Roglic, but can now look ahead to the next stages which are more suitable for him.

“I’m where I’m supposed to be”, David Gaudu

The warm-up was especially important on Monday in the opening time trial of the Tour of the Basque Country. As soon as they left the start ramp, the riders indeed had to tackle a 2,500-meter climb at 7%. They then had to face a long downhill that led to a final 500-meter hill with an average gradient of 10%. David Gaudu decided to tackle this particular time trial quite early, like other GC contenders. Among them was Primoz Roglic, who set the best mark (17’17) at 2:30pm and did not move from the hot seat in the following three hours of racing. As for the Groupama-FDJ’s leader, he completed the course in 18’32, then losing 1’15 to the first race leader. “In terms of time, I think I’m where I’m supposed to be compared to Roglic, who set an impressive time,” explained the Frenchman. “I lost between 20 to 40 seconds on other GC riders. I’m satisfied with my time trial. It was also my first race after crashing out of Paris-Nice and my small break”.

“David got the best of himself, he didn’t make any mistake,” added Franck Pineau. “Then, the legs did the talking on such a demanding course. He was involved right from the start. In the long descent, he just had a bit of a disadvantage compared to more powerful guys. He couldn’t do better and he had no regrets. He made a great impression on me, especially with his position and the way he managed his effort. He keeps on improving and that bodes well for the future“. At the end of the stage, Bruno Armirail was eventually the fastest rider for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team, just a minute away from Roglic. “I think he did a good time trial, he even surprised me a bit,” admitted Franck. “He was feeling a bit tired a few days ago but I think he’s improving and it’s going in the right direction. All the others guys were very focused today.” Five hilly stages are now on the Tour du Pays Basque’s menu, and each of them should be a new opportunity.

“We must join in the fight”, Franck Pineau

“We will focus on being right there every day”, said Franck. “I don’t want us to just follow. We have nothing to be ashamed of, and we better be active. We will then see what it brings. We must not start making maths for the GC this evening. I want the guys to fully take part in the event and have fun. Our leader still is David, without a doubt, but the guys could have the opportunity to go up front. I would like us to first think about winning a stage before we think about going for the overall. Either way, it goes hand in hand. If it comes down to the legs, it means that David will be up there. There is certainly a very high competition, but that’s not a reason to restrain ourselves. If we start freaking out looking at the startlist, then we’re done already. We must join in the fight. I want the guys to get to the line having given everything”. David Gaudu concluded in the same spirit: “We will get to a terrain that suits me. I hope to be there every day to put in the effort, have fun and take the most out of this race. We will see what the result will be on Saturday night but I am ready and motivated to go forward”.

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