After a rest day much appreciated by all the riders, the Tour de France resumed on Tuesday with a tenth stage designed from Albertville to Valence. Despite a tense final hour due to the risk of echelons, it all came down to a bunch sprint and Mark Cavendish took the win. Thanks to Stefan Küng’s precious help, David Gaudu crossed the line within the main peloton and retained his provisional tenth place in the general classification.

“We were very focused”, Stefan Küng

Two days after a tough weekend in the Alps, the second week of the Tour resumed from Albertville on Tuesday. From the Olympic city to Valence, about 200 kilometres were to be covered before a likely sprint finish. The race’s scenario then brought no surprise, since only two men went away in the first hundreds meters, thus making the work of the sprinters’ teams easier. “Miles had the possibility to follow the big moves if there was an opportunity, but there wasn’t,” said Thierry Bricaud. “Stefan tried a small attack with a fellow countryman, but Deceuninck-Quick Step controlled right away. From then on, we all focused on David.” At the head of the race, Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) and Hugo Houle (Astana-Premier Tech) enjoyed a six-minute lead at best, but never made the peloton worry.

After the intermediate sprint, the bunch even got back just two minutes behind the leading duo, and then maintained a good pace alongside the Vercors massif. The tension only increased in the last sixty kilometres as the sky became more threatening and with a last climb to tackle. “We expected some wind in the valley on the final, and the pace started to pick up in the small climb forty-five kilometers from the finish,” said Stefan Küng, always on David Gaudu’s side. “BikeExchange made a strong pace there, but they didn’t have anyone else to pull after the top so it calmed down. With David, we stayed at the front so as not to be caught up. It was close at one point, but we were still very focused and always in the front. It was important to stay in the first positions because it got really stretched a few times. We did well”.

“There may be surprises”, Thierry Bricaud

Shortly before entering the last ten kilometers, the Swiss time trialist and the French climber came back to the top positions of the bunch, even took a few turns, and did not get in trouble at all to make the cut. “It was tense because the roads were open and it was windy,” said Thierry. “Certainly not enough for the bunch to really split, but still enough to make the final dangerous. From that point of view, Stefan did a great job. He led-out David the whole time, he kept him safe, and that was most important.” “David trusts me,” Stefan added. “So I know he’s in my wheel. And if he’s not, he tells me. We work well together”. The two men even crossed the line at the same moment, just outside the top-20. The Groupama-FDJ’s leader remains tenth overall before the double ascent of Mont Ventoux scheduled on Wednesday. “It surely is a stage that will create gaps in GC,” claims Thierry. “Climbing the Ventoux once is already hard, so there may be surprises with this double ascent for sure”.

On Tuesday, all of the team’s riders safely arrived in Valence, including Bruno Armirail despite a temporary weakness. “Bruno got a cold spell on Sunday, and things were bad yesterday,” said Thierry. “We didn’t know how he was going to be this morning, but that certainly was a bit better. Given the state he was in yesterday, it’s normal to see him having a difficult day today. However, he finished without problem in a small gruppetto. It may still be a bit difficult for him tomorrow, but after that, things will get back the right way”.

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