The second monster stage in the Alps of the Tour de France did not equal the dramaturgy of the first one, on Thursday, but the finish into the Alpe d’Huez still led to a fight between the general classification contenders. Not amongst the very best, David Gaudu lost a little less than a minute on the yellow jersey at the top and remains seventh overall after stage 12. Before heading to the Pyrenees, the Frenchman is 1’41 off the podium and twenty-seconds away from the top-5. Everything is still on the table.

After a – legendary – stage featuring some 4000 meters of elevation gain towards the Col du Granon, the Tour de France riders had to survive no less than 4600 meters on Thursday on stage 12 that included the legendary climbs of the Galibier, Croix de Fer and Alpe d’Huez. The road was set to go uphill quite early, but a breakaway of six men was still able to take advantage of the first flat portions to hit the front. On the slopes of the Galibier, Thibaut Pinot then tried to follow a few moves, but Jumbo-Visma tried to neutralize any new attempt. Only three men were then able to bridge across to the leading group in the very long downhill of the Galibier while the peloton decided to ease down. “The breakaway went in a weird way,” noted Philippe Mauduit. “The first six went out after a few attacks. Then, there were a lot of counterattacksand Thibaut was often in there. However, these counterattacks were always chased by the peloton, who obviously did not want a larger breakaway. The gap later rose to eight minutes and the peloton really increased the pace only in the second part of the Croix de Fer. Only thirty men or so made it to the summit, including five riders from the Groupama-FDJ cycling team. In the day’s other very long downhill, towards Bourg-d’Oisans, David Gaudu was therefore perfectly surrounded by Kevin Geniets, Thibaut Pinot, Valentin Madouas and Michael Storer.

It’s a bit disappointing“, David Gaudu

He could then tackle the final climb of the Alpe d’Huez (13.9 km at 7.9%) within the yellow jersey group, while Thibaut Pinot and Valentin Madouas supported him during the first kilometres of climbing. “I missed a little something to stay with David a bit longer”, said Thibaut. felt very hot at the bottom, and I struggled to recover from it. It’s frustrating not being able to stay with David, because I think I had decent legs today.” The young leader eventually followed the best ones until the last six kilometres before he took his own pace,which he kind of regretted later. “It was obviously hard with the heat, but I was afraid of exploding, and I thereforeclimbed at my own pace while I might have been able to follow them”, said the Frenchman. I’m disappointed because in the end, I just lack a bit of self-confidence since I blew upon the last stage of the Dauphiné. It’s a bit disappointing.” At the top, David Gaudu lost less than a minute to Pogacar, Vingegaard and Thomas. “I was strong in the last two kilometres, but that’s how it is,” he added. “We missed our chance today but it’s not over. We are only at stage 12, and I know that I usually have good feelings in the third week. Let’s not panic and confidence will come back naturally. The team did a great job again. It’s not a great day, but it’s not the worst we’ve had either.”

Leaving the Alps, David Gaudu therefore sits in seventh place overall, but less than two minutes from second place. “It was a very hard, physical stage, and we unfortunately lost again a bit of time today, concluded Philippe. “David needs to get used to these situations again, but it is not a big deal looking at what we have ahead of us. He knows he can follow the best. “It’s a pity, but we will keep on going”, said Thibaut. “There are some great stages ahead, David is still in the mixand there is still plenty to go for on this Tour. There are the Pyrenees, nice stages for breakaways and there may be more surprises. We’re going to keep trying, and it would be nice to bring home a victory with any one of us, and for David to keep doing what he’s been doing until Paris.” While a few hilly stages are now looming, Groupama-FDJ also sits in third place in the team classification this Thursday evening.

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