Towards Lausanne this Saturday, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team experienced an almost quiet stage 8 of the Tour de France. A massive crash at the start of the race first delayed David Gaudu among others, then Thibaut Pinot experienced some misfortune fifty kilometres from the finish, but nothing serious at the end of the day. The French leader eventually followed the best in the day’s punchy finish and remains fifth overall before the first stage in the Alps on Sunday.
The Tour peloton was about to cross another border on Saturday, this time towards Switzerland. From Dôle in the Jura region, 186 kilometres needed to be covered to reach the Olympic Stadium of Lausanne, located at the top of an explosive climb. The day’s undulating terrain seemed to offer an opportunity for the breakaway, but the anticipated scenario was upset due to a massive crash in the first ten kilometres. After being split in various pieces, the peloton took time to get together again. David Gaudu and Antoine Duchesne fell slightly and were among the riders involved. “I crash like the others”, said the young climber. “I brake, I stop, and I get hit in the back. I couldn’t do much. That’s how it is, but there was more fear than harm. I have no pain, no wounds, that’s the most important.” The Groupama-FDJ rider then regained his place in the bunch, while three men took advantage of the mess to increase the gap they already had beforehand: Mattia Cattaneo (Quick Step -Alpha Vinyl), Frederik Frison (Lotto-Soudal) and Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorious). They proved to be the only fugitives of the day, and the peloton therefore organized the chase through the Jumbo-Visma and BikeExchange-Jayco teams.
“If this were to be our unlucky day…”, David Gaudu
Then, the stage continued at a rather monotonous pace. “These are not easy days to manage”, said David. “We know that the breakaway can make it or that it is almost impossible to beat Van Aert on this type of finish, so we allow ourselves to ease down a little, because we surely need it. We try to stay focused, but these are difficult days. Therefore, getting through them with almost no incident and without losing time is already a good thing”. After a furious acceleration in the last sixty kilometres, the peloton entered Lausanne just thirty seconds after the breakaway’s survivor, Fred Wright. The fight proved harsh once again to approach the final climb (5km at 4.5%) in a good position. “It was hard because the final, before the hill, was again very dangerous today”, said Philippe Mauduit. “The guys lost each other a bit with 7-8 kilometers to go, but they eventually managed to put David back in the top 15-20. That was enough for him to go and cross the line in good conditions”. About thirty riders were left in the bunch into the last kilometre and David Gaudu safely took twelfth place of the day, in a sprint won by Wout Van Aert. He therefore remains fifth overall on Saturday night, 1’35 behind Tadej Pogacar.
“Today the main thing was not to lose time,” said David. “The little black spot was the crash, but it’s hard to do a Tour de France without crashing. If this were to be our unlucky day of the Tour, because there is always one, I would sincerely sign with both hands. We don’t lose time, there is no injury, and everyone was at their level”. “It was a very stressful day, like all the days of the Tour de France actually”, added Philippe. “Even if it did not necessarily seem like it on TV, there was again some tension today in the bunch. It could have been a very bad day, but we are doing very well, and we are happy about it”. As for Thibaut Pinot, he suffered two incidents before the last hour of racing. After a small crash uphill, he then hit the musette of another team’s soigneur. He then re-joined the peloton, before sitting back on the last climb. “It was a difficult day, the legs were not great, but that’s the kind of days you need to go through during the Tour de France”, he said. “I hope there will be better days. I can’t wait to get to the Alps, to find good legs and to have more fun on the bike”. The riders will actually arrive in the Alps tomorrow, with a finish in Châtel after the ascents of the Col de la Croix and the Pas de Morgins.