On stage 11 of the Tour de France this Wednesday, the sprinters got another opportunity to battle. For the fourth time since the Grand Départ from Bilbao, Jasper Philipsen beat his opponents, after what was a quiet day with just three men up the road. David Gaudu finished in the peloton and maintained his ninth place overall. The Groupama-FDJ team is now looking forward to the second part of the week.
Despite a hilly profile in the first half of the race, the suspense did not last long leaving Clermont-Ferrand on Wednesday. Only three men established the day’s breakaway, and from then on, everyone could expect a long, monotonous chase before a bunch sprint in Moulins, 180 kilometres further on. Besides, Daniel Oss, Andrey Amador and Matis Louvel never had more than four minutes of a lead up front, as the sprinters’ teams were not willing to spend too much energy chasing. About fifty kilometres from the goal, only the Italian kept the attempt going, and the peloton just kept him thirty seconds ahead during the last hour of racing. As soon as the final climb was passed, and after a potentially tricky change of direction, the peloton kept a solid pace while the nervousness increased. “We had to stay united like we did the previous days”, explained Kevin Geniets. “Today, the goal was to avoid risks and splits. Everyone did their share of work, and we were always in the front positions. I started working a little earlier than expected and tried to be up there all day”.
“The second part of the week will be important”, Philippe Mauduit
In the last hour of racing, the rain also appeared on the course while the last man standing from the breakaway was caught before the last ten kilometres. “Kevin and Lars first did a great job, then it was very nervous with the rain”, said Olivier. “With Stefan, we tried to approach the three-kilometre banner as well as possible so that David was in the best position at that point. We fought for positions, and it went well. There is always tension, adrenaline, and you have to stay focused to not make a mistake. It’s a bit chaotic sometimes but that’s how it is”. “The final could be tricky, but the team handled it well”, added Philippe Mauduit. “Kevin, Lars, Stefan and Olivier all did a great work to put David in good conditions, and it went well”. As a consequence, David Gaudu and Thibaut Pinot safely finished in the main peloton in Moulins, thus remaining ninth and fifteenth before a tough second part of the week. After turning 27 on Wednesday, Valentin Madouas can’t wait for the following stages. “I enjoyed today, and we rested well for tomorrow”, he said. “The goal for the team will be to be in the breakaway. We have to go for a stage victory, and there is plenty to do tomorrow”. “The second part of the week will be important,” summed up Philippe to conclude.