One day prior to the end of the Volta a Catalunya, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team gave it another go, this time with Antoine Duchesne. The Canadian rider then spent most of the day up front, but the bunch was unwilling to let the stage win slip away on Saturday. Peter Sagan eventually won the bunch sprint, in which Simon Guglielmi took part (14th).
“I really wanted to be in front”, Antoine Duchesne
Considering that the sprinters’ field is not substantial on the 2021 Volta a Catalunya, stage 6 towards Mataró could have been another good day for the breakaway. Like in recent days, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team was eager to be aggressive, and succeeded in slipping into the good move quite early on thanks to Antoine Duchesne. “In the case of a tough start and a big breakaway, we obviously had to be in the first moves,” said Philippe Mauduit. “We missed the first one, but Antoine managed to get into the second one. It was good to be there, because you never know… When you go for it, you don’t know how many riders will be with you, or if some chasers will come back. When the door opens, you should not brake”. The Canadian initially found himself with five riders before one of them returned to the bunch. Ultimately, he made a gap to the peloton together with Harold Tejada (Astana), Dmitrii Strakhov (Gazprom), Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) and Mattias Jensen (Trek-Segafredo).
“As we don’t have a real leader in this race, we want to be active and take part in the breakaways,” he said. “Today, we did not know if Bora was going to control. It was worth a try, especially as there was a good tailwind for part of the day and that it was a good course for the breakaway. I personally really wanted to be in front, so I was happy to be able to enter the right move.” However, the peloton was not eager to play with the leaders on Saturday, and several teams joined forces to keep the gap at around three minutes. “It was full gas all day”, added Antoine. “Unfortunately, the peloton never gave us too much space. We still believed in our chances, and we tried to accelerate. However, when we saw that the peloton was coming back despite the fact we were going really fast, we understood we could not make it”. With twenty kilometers to go, the breakaway was then caught, but Antoine Duchesne was still satisfied with his stage.
“We will try again”, Philippe Mauduit
“It had been a long time since I had been able to go up front like this, especially at the end of a tough week,” he said. “I feel better and better as the days go by. I’m happy with my day, it gives me confidence for the future”. “Antoine was very motivated today,” added Philippe. “It was a very good day for him. Being in front when you see the average speed, on a profile still quite hilly, it obviously gives you morale and a boost. Physically, it’s also an opportunity to go deep and therefore to improve”. Despite some attacks in the final, the bunch came back together for the stage win in Mataró. Approaching the sprint, Attila Valter also brought back Simon Guglielmi in the first part of the bunch. “Simon has been ill for three days,” Philippe said. “He felt a little better today and he asked us at the briefing if he could go for the sprint. Obviously, we said yes, and it was also an opportunity for him to gain experience. It’s a good thing to show that mindset, and we must not slow it down”. On the line, the former “Conti” rider eventually took 14th place, his best result to date in a WorldTour event.
Tomorrow, the riders will face the usual circuit of Montjuic around Barcelona to complete the 2021 Tour of Catalunya. “It’s really a tough course, and I think there will be a fight for the general classification,” added Philippe. “This will not make it easier for us, but we will again try to get involved in the battle and see where it leads us”.