David Gaudu today took the first win of the season for the team. After a great display on the Tour of the Alpes-Maritimes and Var last week, the Frenchman from Groupama-FDJ managed to pull it off in the Faun-Ardèche Classic. Excelling both in the climbs and in the downhills on Saturday, he eventually won after a two-man sprint, thus grabbing his first victory of the year. Thibaut Pinot also made it into the day’s top 10 (8th).
At the start of the Faun-Ardèche Classic on Saturday morning in Guilherand-Granges, David Gaudu and Groupama-FDJ were often named as the main favourites for the race. “We knew that others would look at us, and that we would have to take control of the race,” said the young man from Brittany much later. “And that’s what we did. We took our responsibilities with Clément, who rode behind the breakaway for a long time”. It took an hour for the break to go, and it eventually included: Orluis Aular (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates), Valentin Ferron (Total Direct Energie), Stuart Balfour (Swiss Racing Academy) and Delio Fernandez (Delko). However, their lead never went past the five-minute mark. Clément Davy, Ignatas Konovalovas and other teams then brought the bunch back very close after the second time over the Val d’Enfer (1.6 km at 10%), also set to be the final climb of the day. The action however started earlier. In the sequence of the Mur de Cornas and the Saint-Romain-de-Lerps climb, the favourites got isolated and David Gaudu showed he was in a good day as he covered the multiple attacks of Hugh Carthy. “It was pretty explosive in the last thirty kilometers,” said David. “The fight started from far out.”
“It certainly gives confidence”, David Gaudu
Approaching the summit of the Saint-Romain-de-Lerps climb, the two-time stage winner on the Vuelta made a sharp acceleration to catch Carthy and got rid of all of his opponents except Clément Champoussin. The two young Frenchmen then bridged the gap in the downhill and the rider from Groupama-FDJ even took a few meters. “I found myself all alone after the downhill, so I kept going but I still kept energy, he said. When I saw that they were getting closer, I saved myself a bit in order to give my all in the end.” There was then a trio going for the final climb of the day. The Breton tried to drop his two rivals, but it proved unsuccessful. The downhill eventually did more damage. “We saw that Carthy was not so comfortable on the descent, so I wanted to try to accelerate,” said David. “We took a few meters and I said to Clément: he must not come back! We work together until the 500 meters and then we fight for the win”. The two riders did work together for the last three kilometers, Carthy never came back and it all came down to a two-man sprint. Although he launched it from the leading position, David Gaudu could use his explosiveness to come to the line as the winner.
“I was confident in the final,” he said minutes after the finish. “I knew I had a bit of speed, although Clément also has some punch. I’m very happy that I managed to win and bring this victory to the team. It certainly gives confidence, especially in such a good race with such a competition. Now the real goal is Paris-Nice and I hope to keep this momentum and to keep that shape.” Sixth in the Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var last weekend after three top-10, David Gaudu managed to finish it off today, also allowing the team to open its account in 2021. “We are all happy,” said Thibaut Pinot, eighth on the line forty seconds later. “This is the first win of the season for the team, it paves the way for all of us. Personally, I struggled for a bit in the longest climb, but I felt better in the end. I was able to come back in the last climb and I’m still happy with my day”. First man at work on Saturday, Clément Davy also finished the race a few minutes later, with a smile on his face. “We were in the gruppetto with Kono when David crossed the line”, he said. “We heard it on the radio but weren’t sure. Then, the spectators who stayed to cheer told us that David had won. We could then get to the line quite happy”.
Sunday, David Gaudu will also take part in the Royal Bernard Drôme Classic, but wants to remain cautious: “We are not the only ones who can win. It’s a completely different profile, a completely different race, where positioning is really important. Other riders will also be on the startlist and we probably won’t have the pressure we had today. Maybe it will be up to the others to do the work.”