A crucial stage was on the menu this Wednesday in the 2022 Critérium du Dauphiné. The riders were to tackle quite a long time trial, of 32 kilometres, which was supposed to give a first glance at the general classification. In the aftermath of his fine victory in Chastreix-Sancy, David Gaudu did meet the expectations. Although the course wasn’t made for him, the Frenchman managed to limit his losses with a 23rd place, 1’59 behind world champion Filippo Ganna. He now sits just outside the top-10 overall (12th). His teammate Bruno Armirail also took a solid seventeenth place against the clock.

Between Montbrison and La Bâtie d’Urfé, over some 31.9 kilometres, the number of corners was quite limited. The Critérium du Dauphiné time trial featured no climbs, but a rather straight course, made for the pure specialists. “The time trial was very specific in its own way, because it was completely flat, with just a few turns, and long flat stretches,” said David Han, one of the Groupama-FDJ’s coaches. “It was a super-fast course. You could say it was made for beasts!” Olivier Le Gac was the first to take the start, around 2 p.m., and was then followed by Michael Storer and Valentin Madouas half an hour later. Bruno Armirail arrived at 2:42 p.m. on the start launchpad and completed the course 37 minutes and 23 seconds later, setting the fourth best provisional time. “I wanted to give everything”, he said. “It was good preparation for the French championship, which will be a big personal goal, even if it will be longer. The legs were pretty ok, even though I was sick on Friday. It also gives benchmark times for David.” The young climber, just crowned with his first ever victory on the Critérium du Dauphiné, tackled the solo exercise shortly before 4 p.m., and set the 14th time at the first checkpoint. David Gaudu dropped back a little in the second timing point (26th) but left everything on the road in the final to set a solid 23rd place at the finish, 1’59 behind the winner and world champion Filippo Ganna.

“A very good time trial for the team”, David Han

“I gave it my all, and Wout [van Aert] did not catch me”, smiled the young man. “I was told that he was starting to come back on the final, that he was six seconds behind into the last kilometre and I did everything so that he did not come back. I wasn’t paying attention to my time anymore, I just did not want him to catch me. Anyway, I gave everything. I had rather good feelings. Some parts of the course did not really suit me, with these long straight roads where we had to put as much power as possible, but I think I did a very, very decent ride. I’m pretty happy. I am not the fastest climber in the time trial, against Roglic, Vingegaard & co, but I keep on progressing every year”. “We said before the time trial that if Van Aert would catch David in the final, it wouldn’t be bad,” added David Han. “He did not catch him, so that’s very nice. It’s a very good time trial for the team overall. Of course, there is no top-10 at the end, but David did a good ride, Bruno (17th) gained confidence, Rudy put on a good performance, Valentin did a decent time trial. We are happy. Above all, David remains in the mix for the general classification. He’s still up there”. On Wednesday evening, David Gaudu sits in twelfth place, a handful of seconds from the top-10, around thirty seconds from the top-5 and 2’03 behind leader Wout van Aert. “Tomorrow could be tricky, we will have to stay focused”, concluded David. “We’ll see if we go for the breakaway on Friday. This weekend, we will try to do our best and see where we stand compared to the other favourites. I’ve got the legs, I can’t wait to be there, and if we can do something good in GC, we surely will!”

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