David Gaudu heads to the climbing stages after a “good” time trial

Before getting to a more suitable terrain for him – already on Wednesday -, David Gaudu’s goal was to limit his losses in the Paris-Nice’s time trial today. After 14.4 kilometers of a solo effort, the young Frenchman eventually lost only fifty-two seconds on the day’s winner Stefan Bissegger, and even less on his GC rivals. Tomorrow, the summit finish at Chiroubles should already give an opportunity to the favourites to test themselves.

“He did a nice time trial”, David Han

On Tuesday, the riders were set to fight for the stage win or for the GC on quite a flat terrain, although two small climbs were to be tackled at the start and at the very finish of the course. Being one of the first ones to start, the former world time trial champion Rohan Dennis stayed on the hot seat for a while thanks to his time of 17:47 after the 14.4 kilometre-circuit. Later in the afternoon, however, a handful of riders managed to do better. The French TT champion Rémi Cavagna set a time of 17’34 but Stefan Bissegger did better for less than a second and took the win. As for the favourites, Primoz Roglic achieved the best performance in 17’40 while Groupama-FDJ’s leader David Gaudu crossed the line in 18’26. “In the car just before the start, we said we had to be around 45 seconds behind Roglic,” said David Han, the climber’s coach. “That’s almost the exact gap at the finish.” At the intermediate point (after 6.7 kilometers), the two-time stage winner on the Vuelta was doing even better.

“It was a very good first part”, confirmed David Gaudu. “Then I struggled a bit in the second part, which was better for the specialists. It was a good time trial anyway and I had rather good feelings”. “He was doing really good on the first kilometers but then it was more difficult for him when he got to the slightly downhill section,” his coach said. “Overall, he did a nice time trial though. We worked on it a lot at the end of last year but also in the last few weeks. We had also done a few exercises to be ready for that kind of time trial. That’s also why he was doing well in the first part. On the other hand, power remains the main quality for the flat parts, and we still need to improve a bit on that. Still, he’s in good spirits after this time trial. He knows that the condition is there, that he hasn’t lost too much time and that he is on track”. On Tuesday evening, David Gaudu is fifty-two seconds away from the new yellow jersey Stefan Bissegger, and still has his GC rivals right in sight.

“I can’t wait to be on the final climb”, David Gaudu

On Wednesday towards Chiroubles, he will already have the opportunity to test himself against them head-to-head. “It’s not too hard but it will be a challenging course and there will already be small gaps between the main favourites”, says Thierry Bricaud. “It is a typical Beaujolais’ terrain, up and down all the time. It won’t be easy. The bunch will not be complete at the bottom of the last climb but it will most certainly come down to these final kilometers. It’s a nice route for sure but it won’t create big gaps. David should be there in the final, then we’ll see how it unfolds, but the most important thing is stay with the best. We know that the real gaps will be made on the Colmiane. Tomorrow, we can possibly take a bit of time back, but not so much. He’s more likely to move up places in the overall standings than to grab seconds. If we get the chance to do so however, we won’t say no”. In the last twenty kilometers, the riders will climb Mont Brouilly (3.2 km at 7.3%) before going for the final climb at Chiroubles (7.4 km at 6%). “It may be the first big test with this summit finish,” said David to conclude. “We’ll see how it goes, but I can’t wait to be on the final climb anyway.”