Three weeks ago, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team set off from Denmark with the ambitious goal of finishing on the Tour de France podium. Twenty-one stages later, Marc Madiot’s squad finished the Tour in the Champs Elysées with fourth place overall, thanks to its young leader David Gaudu. A result that was made possible by the young Frenchman’s resilience and the unfailing support he got throughout the whole race, which was also proved by the second place in the team classification. A nice chapter is closing.
“We all finished fourth”, David Gaudu
For a few kilometres, a few tens of minutes, pressure and competition made way for relaxation on Sunday, from the district of La Défense, in Paris. On the very last stage of the 109th Tour de France, the riders were able, as usual, to enjoy an easy start to the stage with photos, smiles, jokes, and celebrations of all kinds. The real race only started about sixty kilometres from the finish, and Olivier Le Gac and Antoine Duchesne later gave it a go on the Champs Elysées circuit. Among the last survivors of a five-man breakaway, the Canadian was caught shortly before the last lap and the expected bunch sprint eventually brought the day’s winner. Jasper Philipsen collected his second victory in this Tour while Jonas Vingegaard secured his yellow jersey. As for David Gaudu, he officially took fourth place overall of the Tour, therefore establishing the best performance for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team since Thibaut Pinot’s podium (3rd) in 2014. “I was lucky enough to have the support of an extraordinary team, riders and staff”, David said at the finish. “They never gave up and were there to give me a little motivation when things weren’t going the best way. I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has been by my side. On paper, I did finish fourth of the Tour, but actually, we all finished fourth”.
A sports director with Frédéric Guesdon and Thierry Bricaud during the three weeks, Philippe Mauduit echoed his rider after the last day of racing. “This Groupama-FDJ team worked really well throughout the Tour de France,” he said. “They immediately found their places. Everyone knew when and how to get into action. The team was united, and the staff was extraordinary around the riders. This harmony and this solidarity between each member of the team also made it possible for David to finish fourth in this Tour de France”. Besides, of course, the natural qualities of the 25-year-old Frenchman. “I think David learns about himself in each Grand Tour, and goes a little further every time”, added Philippe. “He showed mental strength when the conditions got extreme. He didn’t let go and kept on fighting until the line. He conquered this fourth place with courage, with his guts, and his mates gave everything so that he could get it. That’s what I remember”. “This is another step forward for David”, said his coach David Han. “Every year, he moves forwards and improves. Some perform really well straight away. He has a steady progression, but we set the bar higher and higher each year. I’m usually the kind to look to the future, but now, we’re still going to enjoy it a bit!”
“I had fun every day”, Kevin Geniets
After three weeks of intense racing, attested by the highest average speed in the history of the Tour de France, fourth place indeed sounded like a real success. “We heard or read mixed comments about this fourth place, but to finish fourth in this Tour de France is a real performance”, claimed Philippe. “We realized quite early that Pogacar and Vingegaard would be unbeatable. Considering the circumstances, being just outside of the podium was therefore already a great result”. “For the team, the record is still very good”, added Thibaut Pinot, fifteenth overall. “We came for the podium, and we are only one spot away from taking it. We also finished second as a team and I think that’s no small achievement. We showed that we were among the best collectively speaking. I think we are where we belong. There are really a lot of positive things on this Tour, even if there is no stage victory” With eleven top-10s, including three podiums, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team did try everything to get its success though. Valentin Madouas, eleventh overall, came the closest with a second place in Foix. “It could have been a perfect Tour with a little more luck”, said the French puncher. “That said, we had some disappointing Tours lately, so to finish with fourth place is not insignificant!”
Finally, this Tour de France was also the first one in Kevin Geniets’ young career. The Luxembourger proved to be quite a solid teammate for three weeks and did make it to Paris despite a tough day in the Pyrenees. “I think the Tour went really well from a personal point of view, but also for the team”, he concluded. “It really means a lot to finish my first Tour de France. Like everyone else, I dreamed of being there when I was a kid, so to enter the Champs Elysées was really special. Apart from a bad day, the Tour went really well. I experienced a day of suffering, of stress, but I felt better right from the next day. In the end, I mostly realized how much fun I could have for three weeks. Despite the fatigue and stress, I had fun every day. This is what will stick, and it is a real motivation for the future. I am aware of the work and sacrifices to get there. But at the end of it, there is fun”.