The Groupama-FDJ cycling team got in the mix for the stage victory on Friday, in stage 5 of the Volta a Catalunya. Three riders of the team managed to enter in a large breakaway and the climbers Attila Valter and Sébastien Reichenbach were then able to fight for a great result until the end. The win eventually went to Lennard Kämna, but the Hungarian still scored his first top 10 for the team (8th) while the Swiss rider finished 15th.
Philippe Mauduit, Jussi Veikkanen and their riders made a real target of the fifth stage of the Volta a Catalunya, 200 kilometers long and quite hilly towards Manresa. However, they weren’t the only ones, and as anyone might expect, the fight was tough from the start on Friday. It even lasted until the first climb of the day, at the top of which Attila Valter even got second. However, it was only after the downhill that a large group of around 40 riders went, with the Hungarian but also Sébastien Reichenbach and Matthieu Ladagnous for Groupama-FDJ. “It was important not to have only one rider in such a big group,” said Philippe. “Having three of them allowed us to be on equal terms with a few other teams. Strategically, it enabled us to try more things. In a group of forty, there are always guys who have no interest in pulling, and there is obviously not such great cooperation”. While the main peloton decided to let this breakaway do its thing, it was however necessary to bridge across a quartet that went after about sixty kilometers and that especially included Rémi Cavagna.
“We did not succeed, but we tried”, Philippe Mauduit
Attila Valter then attacked again, with three other riders, to join them. “To be honest, I hadn’t planned on going in the breakaway today,” said the young man. “In the first flat part I just tried to warm up and go easy. But in the first climb I had good sensations again and went with many attacks, or even generated myself. Then, the group was too big and we were not working well together. So after 20-30 km, I went to catch the four leaders. We managed to come back and then we did 30 kilometers together before the rest of the group also bridged across”. With a bit less than sixty kilometers to go, Cavagna then went alone. The Frenchman built a two-minute advantage at the bottom of the last climb, in which Sébastien Reichenbach decided to play his cards. “We rode well because we were there in all the moves”, said the Swiss rider. “I tried in the last climb. I knew there was still a long way to go after, but I was mostly hoping that only a small group would come back at the top, not a dozen riders…” Although he first caught the leading man with Mikel Bizkarra, Sébastien Reichenbach was not in the best situation afterwards in such a breakaway.
“The most difficult thing today was tactics,” added Philippe. “It was a difficult stage, but not difficult enough for a climber like Seb. The only chance for him to go for the win was to go on that climb. He tried to do so, but the slopes weren’t super hard. We knew we wouldn’t be the strongest on the downhill part; we wanted to prevent the stage from being played there. We had to try beforehand. We didn’t succeed, but we tried. We were fully involved in the race today”. In the first group, Sébastien Reichenbach tried to follow some moves in the last twenty kilometers, but Lennard Kämna eventually managed to go alone in the final to grab the victory. In the last kilometre, Attila Valter came back from behind to fight for the remaining places. “The descent was very fast until the finish and I didn’t want to work too much with the second group because Seb was in front”, he said. “I finally came back at the red flame, then I did my best to finish as good as possible in the sprint”. The Hungarian took eighth place, his first top 10 with Groupama-FDJ, while Sébastien Reichenbach finished 15th.
“It is good for morale”, Sébastien Reichenbach
“It was a very hectic day, I just had to do my max and it makes me a bit stronger,” said Attila. “Last year I tried a lot for breakaway, especially in the Giro, but never succeeded. Now being able to do it two days in a row is a relief for me”. “The legs were good and it’s good for morale to be in front,” Sébastien said. “There is no victory, but we played a role. I like my job as a domestique, but fighting for a stage win is very different. There is this adrenaline that can only be experienced in these moments, and that is what all riders are looking for”. When taking stock of the day, Philippe Mauduit said: “This is what we were looking for from the start: to make the race rather than endure it. They really showed a behaviour that is expected from them, and it is with that behaviour that we will have a chance to go for a win. Today, they also saw that they were capable of being in front and playing the victory despite a super intense stage and a crazy scenario. It shows them that they can do it, it was a good day to gain confidence.” Tomorrow? Same thing, despite a slightly less undulating profile than today. “We will try to go again in the moves, and a lot of teams also want to do it,” Philippe concluded. “It can be another breakaway day.”