The “bad days” are always fatal on a Grand Tour. So when they occur on a stage featuring a double ascent of Mont Ventoux, they are all the more brutal. The Groupama-FDJ unfortunately experienced it on Wednesday towards Malaucène. They first lost Miles Scotson, who found himself empty early on, and David Gaudu then also had a heatstroke that forced him to drop back from the peloton quite early on. The young Frenchman still fought hard until the end of the stage and got the whole support of his teammates. Now out of the overall top-10, he’ll be able to go for other goals in the upcoming days as the rest of the team.
The eleventh stage was undoubtedly among the most anticipated ones of the 108th Tour de France. On Wednesday, it was not just a Ventoux day, but a double-Ventoux day! For the first time in the race’s history, the riders had to get over the “Géant de Provence” two times. The first time from the Sault slope, and the second one from the traditional Bedoin slope, before descending to Malaucène for the day’s finish. On such a course, David Gaudu surely had real ambitions at the start. Unfortunately, the day did not go as hoped. Following a very fast first part of the race, which featured countless attacks, the young climber of Groupama-FDJ was forced to let the peloton go on the first ascent of the Ventoux. Like Miles Scotson, who unfortunately was forced to retire earlier in the day, the Frenchman just found himself empty in this queen stage. “Even before the first climb of the Ventoux, he told us he was struggling and that he really was not feeling well,” said Yvon Madiot. “He had no legs, he had a heatstroke and that led to digestive issues and vomiting. The heat at the start obviously had an impact”.
“It is hugely disappointing to lose everything in one day”, Yvon Madiot
Although he was suffering and being distanced, David Gaudu still did not give up and was able to rely on his loyal teammate Bruno Armirail, himself recovering from cold snap. “He felt a bit better atop of the first ascent of the Ventoux”, added Yvon. “It was a little cooler and the peloton was not going full gas, which allowed them to come closer. But it was just an illusion, it didn’t last.” In the flat part leading to the second ascent of the iconic climb, Stefan Küng and Valentin Madouas dropped back from the bunch to give a hand to their leader, who was well in the mix in the GC up to today. His ambitions in the matter quickly vanished on Wednesday. However, David Gaudu kept fighting until the end, and crossed the line with Valentin Madouas just over twenty minutes behind the day’s winner Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma). The two-time stage winner in the Vuelta therefore slipped to fifteenth in the overall classifications, which cannot be a real goal anymore. “David worked hard before coming here. He really committed to it, and so did the team for him”, said Yvon. “It’s obviously hugely disappointing to lose everything in one day”.
With Bruno Armirail, Stefan Küng and Valentin Madouas, David Gaudu will now focus on other goals in this Tour de France. “He will certainly have opportunities from now on, but first he has to get his health back,” Yvon insisted. “We’re getting to intermediate stages, for breakaways, and we will be able to give freedom to his teammates, especially Valentin and Stefan. We still have a few cards to play. We just have to accept the situation and get going again to take a stage win and good results. It’s of course a very harsh day for us, but we need to bounce back from it”.