On the eve of the queen stage, which will likely decide the final GC of this 2021 edition of Paris-Nice, David Gaudu finished safely inside the favourites group on Friday. In the hill top finish in Biot, the young Frenchman took twenty-third as Primoz Roglic grabbed another stage win. The Groupama-FDJ’s leader sits in 11th place overall before the anticipated fight in the climb of La Colmiane tomorrow, where he hopes to be a protagonist.
“It was a tough day for all the riders”, Thierry Bricaud
The riders needed to be ready right from the start this Friday morning at Brignoles, since stage 6 of Paris-Nice started off with a bang. The day’s hilly course made it quite interesting for the breakaway. Therefore, the fight to get in there lasted for a while. It was only after a first hour of racing covered at an average speed of 48km/h that six men managed to make a gap, in the first categorized climb of the day. Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Jonathan Hivert (B&B Hotels), Julien El Fares (EF Education-Nippo), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Premier Tech), Anthony Perez (Cofidis) and Victor Campenaerts (Team Qhubeka-ASSOS) therefore took the lead, but never got more than a four-minute advantage over the peloton led by Primoz Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma. At the end of the Côte de Cabris/Col du Ferrier sequence, halfway through the race, the bunch was still consequent and David Gaudu could even benefit from the support of Arnaud Démare’s train. “They protected and positioned me all day,” thanked the French climber. “They really pushed hard between the climb to hang on as long as possible. Arnaud was still there twenty kilometers from the finish. Then Kono did a lot of work to bring me back in front in the final”. “Arnaud was hoping to get through the climbs today, but he knew it was going to be very difficult,” added Thierry. “Once he got dropped, he still made good efforts having Milan-San Remo in mind”.
In the uncategorized climb to the intermediate sprint at Roquefort-les-Pins, the peloton got rid of most of the sprinters while Kenny Elissonde tried to go solo in front. Jonas Rutsch later joined him, and even dropped him to be the lone leader at the bottom of the last climb in Biot. Arriving with full speed just behind, the peloton easily bridged the gap in the first slopes. The selection was then made from behind in this explosive finish. At the top, Primoz Roglic eventually won the sprint while David Gaudu kept the wheels of the front group. “It was a very fast, very tiring stage and there was a good pace all day,” he explained. “I didn’t have great feelings today, which can happen two days after a crash. My legs felt heavy and I felt a bit stiff. Anyway, it is still a good thing to finish in the peloton without getting any gap”. “He didn’t have great legs but I think everyone suffered today,” Thierry Bricaud said. “It was a tough day for all the riders. You just have to look at the standings to know it. There are almost only the favourites in front. He was there, and that’s the most important. It is better to have so-so feelings today, and good feelings tomorrow”.
“I can’t wait to be there”, David Gaudu
On Saturday, it will be time indeed for the queen stage of Paris-Nice. It will end at the top of La Colmiane (16.2 km at 6.2%) and will be all the more important as the redesigned stage 8 won’t be as suitable to climbers as initially. Before the big fight, David Gaudu is eleventh overall, 1’25 behind the yellow jersey Primoz Roglic, but just 35 seconds off the podium. “Tomorrow, it’s like we’ll wipe the slate clean,” previewed the young man. “We are going to enter on the climbers’ terrain. I can’t wait to be there. It will be a short, nervous and intense stage before an explosive final in La Colmiane. I hope I will be there and that it will go well”. “For us, the approach is still the same”, concluded Thierry Bricaud. “It will be important to do a good climb because the GC will be almost set tomorrow evening. The terrain will suit him perfectly. I am relaxed, he has shown great things since the start of this Paris-Nice”.