The Critérium du Dauphiné ended on Sunday after 147 kilometres and many climbs. However, no gaps were recorded among the GC contenders, who finished together in spite of the Joux-Plane climb. At the finish, where Mark Padun took the win once again, David Gaudu grabbed 5th place, thus securing his top 10 overall (9th) and the white jersey. But most importantly, the Frenchman gave some good signals just three weeks prior to the Tour de France.
“We almost all had the same level”, David Gaudu
On today’s menu, the Critérium du Dauphiné’s dessert this Sunday appeared most appetizing. With more than 4000 meters of elevation spread over 147 kilometers, through some nice climbs such as the Col des Aravis, the Col de la Colombière and especially the Col de Joux-Plane, everything seemed set for a lively race. From the start, a good group went away in the Esserts-Blay climb, and Valentin Madouas entered this 20-man breakaway. The leaders were able to benefit from a five-minute gap before yellow jersey’s team Ineos came set a decent tempo. “We wanted to have someone in the front, especially Valentin or Bruno, so that David could have some help in the final,” explained Thierry Bricaud. “However, the breakaway didn’t get a big enough lead, and Valentin was actually close to contesting the final alongside David. Anyway, it gave him confidence for the future and it was a good day for him.” At the bottom of the Col de Joux-Plane (11.5 km at 8.5%), after a hundred kilometers of racing and three long climbs already covered, the breakaway only had a 2’30-gap on the peloton. Mark Padun then went on his own up front and was never seen again.
Within the yellow jersey group, the pace gradually picked up, a few underdogs tried to attack but the selection was essentially made from the back. “Ineos has such a collective strength, we knew they would control and block the race until Joux-Plane,” said Thierry. “The race got a bit more lively afterwards, but against a team as strong as Ineos, it was difficult to put Porte under pressure. It was not up to David to do so anyway. We wanted to wait for the race to explode a bit before joining in the fight, but there were no big moves”. In the front row, and with the white jersey on his shoulders, the French climber also had his view on the day’s scenario: “It’s always hard to play your cards right when the race finishes with a slight uphill. Also, we know that Ineos is very strong when it comes to defending a jersey. We saw Kruijswijk and Quintana attacking, but they did not get too far. I thought Movistar was going to make it a bit harder on the climb, but once we got into the final 2-3 kilometers of Joux-Plane, everyone looked at the limit. I think we almost all had the same level on this climb. It was therefore almost impossible to create gaps”.
“David is definitely on the right track”, Thierry Bricaud
Approaching the summit, Valentin Madouas was caught by a very small yellow jersey group, and just got distanced one kilometre from the summit. David Gaudu followed the moves perfectly before the downhill, and then proved careful in the slight climb towards Les Gets, where the best ones could not drop each other. Behind three breakaway riders and Ben O’Connor, David Gaudu eventually outsprinted the favourites’ group for fifth place, thus securing his ninth place overall and his white jersey. “I’m satisfied,” he said. “The final position in the general classification does not mean everything. Most importantly, I felt I had good legs yesterday going on the attack, and again today. It’s nice to fight at the front. At the top of Joux-Plane, there were only a handful of guys left. I am happy with the condition over the last two days. It is really promising. The Dauphiné was on our way towards the Tour. We got here without knowing where I would stand. We wanted to take the stages day by day, and I wasn’t necessarily at my best at the start. In the end, I’ve been up there in the past two days and it’s always nice to finish a race with a distinctive jersey.”
Thierry Bricaud also had positive words to take stock of the race. “It’s a very satisfying week, which also proves he did some good work in the altitude camp,” he said. “We know that David was not 100% at the start. Still, he was up there and his shape will continue to grow. These are the week’s good lessons. David is definitely on track. We also see that when a leader goes well, it gives everyone a boost. We feel there is a nice momentum around David, and it’s interesting for the future”.