The first three stages of the Critérium du Dauphiné have now been completed, and David Gaudu is perfectly on schedule. In stage 3 on Tuesday, the French climber just did what was necessary: to finish in the main group, as Sonny Colbrelli went to take his stage win. The young man avoided all traps so far, but another important test is lying ahead for Groupama-FDJ’s leader on Wednesday: a test against the clock, of just 16.4 kilometers, which will establish a first hierarchy in the overall standings.

Unlike the first two stages of the Critérium du Dauphiné, rather suitable for breakaways, the third one between Langeas and Saint-Haon-Le-Vieux on Tuesday was clearly made for a bunch sprint, despite a slightly uphill final. Therefore, very few riders were interested in going on the attack starting the day’s 172 kilometres. Eventually, only two of them went clear right after the official start: Omer Goldstein (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Loïc Vliegen (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert). The duo enjoyed a maximum lead of three minutes and the sprinters’ teams took absolutely no risks today. The peloton even almost came back at the halfway point after it got a bit nervous approaching the long downhill of the Col des Limites. The gap then went up again a little, but the race remained rather tense in the final sixty kilometers, with every leader keen to stay in the front of the bunch. In this matter, David Gaudu proved quite focused and benefited from the protection of his teammates, including Matthieu Ladagnous. “Over these first three days, the goal for us was to position David and keep him out of trouble so that he could avoid splits and crashes,” explained Matthieu. “The whole team was involved in doing so. It was a little quieter today, although it still got quite nervous at the end due to this difficult finish. We had to stay in a good position and that’s what we managed to do”.

“To limit the losses”, Thierry Bricaud

Due to this fight for positions in the back, the last man standing from the breakaway was caught with more than twenty kilometres to go. The tension further increased approaching the slight uphill finish (2km at 3%), where every GC contenders wanted to stay safe. After being brought back in the front positions at the bottom, David Gaudu succeeded in maintaining his place in the first quarter of the bunch and was able to safely cross the line in seventeenth position. “We didn’t want to lose time before the time trial, and we did not”, Thierry Bricaud said. “We also avoided the few crashes that occurred. The start of this Dauphiné is successful, but we must now keep going”. The first real test for the favourites is scheduled on Wednesday, through the 16.3-kilometre, hilly course leading from Firminy to Roche-La-Molière. “We know that the time trial is not David’s main speciality, but he is working on it”, added Thierry. “He will have to make a good time trial tomorrow to limit his losses on the other favourites, in order to give himself a good chance to go for something nice at the end of the week, in the mountains. By setting a good performance, Bruno can also enable us to position the car for the next day, and gain confidence on a personal point of view ahead of the French time trial Championship”.

Seventeenth in the GC on Tuesday evening, 24 seconds behind the leader Lukas Pöstlberger but in the same time than his main rivals, David Gaudu will leave the ramp tomorrow at 3.22pm, about twenty minutes after Bruno Armirail.

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