The last day was the best one for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team. After they managed to take the breakaway in the last stage of the Volta a Catalunya, together with their teammate Matteo Badilatti in a first place, Attila Valter and Sébastien Reichenbach could stay away from the favourites in the challenging circuit of Barcelona to respectively grab 3rd and 4th on the day. This is the Hungarian’s first podium for the team, while the day’s great team ride concludes the week on a high note.

The 2021 edition of the Volta a Catalunya was set to come to an end on Sunday with a short but intense stage around Barcelona, ​​on the Montjuic circuit, which was a bit harder than usual. Logically, this was also the last opportunity to bring home a result for many teams, including Groupama-FDJ. “Depending on who was in there, we were pretty sure that the breakaway would make it to the end,” debriefed Philippe Mauduit. “So we had to have as many riders as possible in front. It was a strong start until the first climb, where some riders managed to take a gap, including four of our guys: our climbers and Matthieu. However, there were some GC riders in front so the bunch did not stop pulling. It actually almost came back but the dangerous guys sat up and the bunch stopped its effort”. Matthieu Ladagnous could not continue with the group but Sébastien Reichenbach, Matteo Badilatti and Attila Valter managed to stay in this 30-man breakaway. “We were all very attentive,” added Sébastien. “We knew that a large group would go and we were very active”.

“I always want more”, Attila Valter

The leading group then had a gap of around four minutes entering the Barcelona circuit, which was to cover six times for a total distance of 50 kilometers. And the decisive move went almost straight away. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) attacked and no one reacted. “I was sure guys like Mohoric, De Gendt or Sanchez were going to take a step ahead,” Philippe said. “Unfortunately, our climbers could not go with them and so they always found themselves in groups that did not work well together. On this special circuit, some are afraid of the climb, others don’t go so well in the downhill, so everyone looks at each other a bit and waits for the other to make the effort”. The advantage of the leading duo quickly rose to thirty seconds, and soon even to a minute despite the chase being reduced to ten men with four laps to go, including Reichenbach and Valter. “It was all about tactics,” said the Hungarian. “De Gendt and Mohoric played their card well, and maybe it was a mistake to let them go, but it’s also something I have to learn moving forward”. “We missed the good move even if I think we had the capacities to be there,” added Sébastien. “It’s the day’s small disappointment. There is a bit of a bitter taste because the first two took a gap and we were therefore always a bit behind. It was difficult to manage”.

Eventually, the two Groupama-FDJ’s riders went in the Montjuic climb on the penultimate lap, together with Clément Champoussin. “I tried to make it harder on the steepest part,” said Attila, “With two laps to go, I went really hard. We dropped many riders and I found myself with Seb and Champoussin. It was a very good situation. We worked well together to stay away. We got through the last climb and then we played well tactically. I let Champoussin bridge a gap on Seb and then I was able to attack him. I went full gas until the finish. I was a little surprised that the peloton was coming back but I managed to take third place”. His Swiss teammate got fourth just in front of the favourites. “In the final, it came down to the legs, and it is reassuring for us as they manage to take 3rd and 4th”, said Philippe. “It means they are in good shape.” Having scored his first podium for the team, and his first WorldTour podium, Attila Valter shared his satisfaction a little later. “I always want more, but it’s super to be on the podium, especially in a great race like this one,” he said. “It’s a very nice result and it shows that I’m on the right track with the team”. “I was able to enjoy myself,” Sébastien explained. “I noticed that my condition improved day by day. It’s a good thing also moving forward”.

“The group picked itself back up”, Philippe Mauduit

While taking stock of the race, Philippe Mauduit clearly separated the week into two parts. “You can never go back and you just have to learn the right lessons,” he said. “We had a real bad start to this Volta a Catalunya. If we remember ourselves in the first three stages, we were far from imagining that we would get a podium and a 4th place on a difficult stage later on. It’s a satisfaction that the group didn’t go down during the week. Instead, it picked itself back up. We can take out a lot of positive things from this race. I am very satisfied with their attitude over the last four days because we didn’t miss a breakaway. They created opportunities for themselves and that’s what was expected of them. They showed in this second part that we could count on them, that they are capable of being at this level and I mostly want to remember that. In high performance sport, confidence is also important and I think they have taken some over the last few days”. “We finished this Volta a Catalunya better than we started it,” Sébastien said. “We found great momentum at the end, we had fun and that was a good thing”. Attila Valter had the final word: “We work better and better together, I needed a little time to get used to the team. I’m feeling better and better and I have gained confidence in this race, especially in positioning. It was an important step moving forward”.