The learning process goes on for Valentin Madouas. Discovering the Tour de France this year, the Breton took part in his very first breakaway on Friday. And what a breakaway that was! On a super hilly stage towards the Puy Mary, the 24-year-old man first led a frantic chase to join the leading group. He then showed his tenacity in the final, catching several riders who previously dropped him, and he eventually grabbed a nice fourth place on the line.
At the start of the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France, the instructions were very clear within the Groupama-FDJ, namely go in the breakaway. The practical application of the instruction proved to be less easy. Still, there were a lot of attempts, and the climbers bravely tried their luck in the Col de Ceyssat after twenty kilometers, but a breakaway of five riders and a chasing group of ten first got away without the team being represented. “It was not easy”, admitted Thierry Bricaud. “We were very motivated but that was a very tough start. We were often represented in the moves, but it almost got away without us ”. When the peloton finally decided to calm down a little, Valentin Madouas felt the right moment to save the team’s day. “Everyone knew what to do, we absolutely wanted to be in front, no matter what,” Thierry continued. “Rudy, Thibaut, Seb tried before. Valentin felt as involved as them and took the initiative to go. What he did today is very good”.
“What Valentin did today is very good”, Thierry Bricaud
“We were trapped behind, so I wanted to try to get back,” said the man. “I closed a gap of almost 1.30 on my own. I had to give everything and get in front as quickly as possible to be able to recover in anticipation of the last climbs. I made some big efforts but they were necessary”. The Frenchman first returned to the chasing group and then to the head of the race, which eventually included seventeen riders including some big names: Julian Alaphilippe, Dani Martinez, Maximilian Schachmann, Marc Soler, Pierre Rolland or Dan Martin. As the day’s attackers were not a threat to the GC, the bunch let the gap grow and was no longer concerned by the stage victory. Valentin Madouas and his companions were able to take ten minutes and therefore dream of winning in the Pas de Peyrol. Before the final, however, Neilson Powless tried to anticipate the big fight but was caught and dropped by Maximilian Schachmann approaching the Col de Neronne, the penultimate climb of the day. In this climb, Valentin Madouas was initially left behind by the main chasers but then overtook most of them thanks to a strong comeback in the Pas de Peyrol.
“I lack a little something, but it will come”, Valentin Madouas
On the finish line, only winner of the day’s Dani Martinez, as well as Lennard Kämna and Maximilian Schachmann eventually beat him. “I knew it was going to be very hard in the end, with very steep slopes, and you need to have a lot of freshness”, he said. “The strongest got away, and I missed a little something to be able to do better. I was feeling pretty good but I think the energy I spent at the start to join the breakaway cost me a better performance. Maybe not the win, but there was probably a chance of getting closer to it”. “He might not have won without his efforts at the start, but that undoubtedly influenced his performance in the final,” Thierry Bricaud also observed. “He was always a bit out of time, but he couldn’t do otherwise. It just goes to show that he is doing very well, because he’s had a hell of a day and managed to finish fourth at the finish. Despite his youth, Valentin knows himself very well. He didn’t want to get over his limits, he went his own pace, and that’s what allowed him to overtake some riders in the final.”
After more than five hours, the young Frenchman therefore grabbed his first top 5 on the Tour de France, which is no small feat. “I’m happy because the legs are good,” he said. “Before me on the line, the Dauphiné’s winner wins ahead of a Dauphiné’s stage winner. It proves that I am almost at their level. I lack a little something but it will come, and I’m pretty happy with my performance.” After Sébastien Reichenbach’s eighth place on Thursday at Sarran, the Groupama-FDJ shows to be ready for its new objectives. “The guys are in on it, they’re trying and that’s the attitude we want to see and have,” Thierry concluded. “We’re going to repeat that tomorrow and every day that follows, until we get there. It is getting closer. There is a beautiful weekend coming up and another great week after that”.