In the last stage of the Tour of the Basque Country towards Arrate, where he conquered the victory in 2021, David Gaudu paid for his uneven preparation. The French leader was unable to join in the final fight between the favourites and consequently dropped to eighteenth place overall. Sébastien Reichenbach had a better day than his teammate and finished at a decent 17th place, also entering the final top-20 (19th).

Only 135 kilometres needed to be covered to complete a very demanding edition of the Tour of the Basque Country. However, these 135 kilometres gathered a dreadful tally of 3500 meters of elevation gain. The final fight therefore promised to be spectacular between the GC contenders, as everything was still wide open before this last day of racing. Fortunately for part of the bunch, the battle for the breakaway was much shorter than the previous days and five men were allowed to take the lead in the first ten kilometres: Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Cristian Rodriguez (TotalEnergies), Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), Tony Gallopin (Trek-Segafredo) and Xabier Mikel Azparren (Euskaltel-Euskadi). The peloton also allowed them to increase their lead up to six minutes. In the back, the pace started to get harder with about a hundred kilometres to go, because of the Ineos Grenadiers team. The bunch then lost more and more riders as it tackled the various climbs, and the gap was also reduced to two minutes with the leading men before the climb of Krabelin. On this various slope of Arrate, the race completely went into pieces. Rudy Molard, Sébastien Reichenbach, and David Gaudu were still in a bunch of around sixty men at the bottom, but none of them was able to follow the very best when they started attacking each other with forty kilometres remaining.

“It’s not worrying”, Philippe Mauduit

A dozen GC contenders broke away and then fought throughout the last three climbs of the day. Ion Izagirre eventually took the win in Arrate more than an hour later as Dani Martinez grabbed the overall win. Sébastien Reichenbach was the first Groupama-FDJ rider on the line, in 17th position, more than three minutes away. After struggling in this last day of racing, David Gaudu took 31st, about seven minutes behind. “It was a difficult stage for the team today, we were on our last legs”, said Philippe Mauduit. “Seb kept his momentum going and did a solid stage, but it was maybe one day too much for David. It is not worrying insofar as the race was hard from the first day, that the level was extremely hard, and that he was coming back to racing after his physical issues. The balance was very good two days ago, it was still good yesterday, and it is eventually a little mixed this evening. They did a very good start to the race, but we were caught up in the end by the lack of endurance. It still is a positive race in David’s progression. The accumulation of fatigue proved fatal, but it is quite normal looking at his preparation. Still, they worked well throughout the week. They have been flawless in terms of team spirit and looking after David. We will now turn to the future goals”. In the final general classification, David Gaudu ended up in 18th position, just ahead of Sébastien Reichenbach (19th).

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