Into Fontainebleau on Monday, the expected bunch sprint did happen. In a hectic final, Arnaud Démare however did not find his way through in the last hundreds of meters and couldn’t join the fight for victory. He eventually took tenth place, like the previous day. David Gaudu finished safely in the bunch before a decisive and atypical team time trial on Tuesday.
On a course without real obstacles and therefore promised to the sprinters, the riders wishing to go to the front were not plentiful this Monday in Paris-Nice. In fact, there was only one. Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X), who had already escaped the day before, therefore found himself alone at the head of the race for more than one hundred kilometres. The peloton was once again nervous, but not because of this breakaway. 80 kilometres from the finish, a light cross wind split the pack in two parts for a few minutes, but everything then came back to normal. The day’s fugitive was caught before entering the last fifty kilometres while the fight for positions continued between leaders’ teams. “The stage was extremely nervous”, said Philippe Mauduit. “There were some nasty crashes, but we were able to avoid them because our riders were always extremely well positioned, with excellent work from Stefan and Kevin in particular. There was great support for David all day.” In the last fifteen kilometres, Tadej Pogacar took a few bonus seconds then the expected sprint prepared, quite chaotically. “Arnaud gave it a go, but it was a violent and hectic final”, added Philippe. “When the last crash happened, there were some panic moves in the bunch and Arnaud found himself out of the sprint at that point. It’s unfortunate, but that’s part of sprinting”.
“We approach the time trial with confidence”, David Gaudu
The former French champion sprinted from too far back like the day before, and again took tenth place at the finish. His teammate David Gaudu finished in the peloton and was therefore able to get through the first two stages of the “Race to the Sun” without issues, as a decisive day looms on Tuesday. The team time trial in Dampierre-en-Burly, over thirty-two kilometres, will present a very singular innovation since the team’s time will be taken from the first rider to cross the line. “The main goal is to do the best possible time, obviously, without saving anything and without limit”, announced Philippe Mauduit. “We’ll need to bring David as quickly as possible to the finish line. The other option is to play for victory if we see that we are in the mix in the last time check. The rules don’t change much because it’s a super-fast course, and to be super-fast, you have to be numerous. I think the strongest will be at the top of the standings tomorrow, whatever the strategy.” “The first two stages went rather well”, concluded David. “The goal was not to lose time, and we did not. The team met the expectations. We approach the time trial with confidence, everyone seems to be doing well and we have good specialists. We will try to lose as little time as possible, and we can surely get a very good result”.