It is not yet official, but it’s definitely done. On Saturday, in stage 20 of the 2022 Tour de France, a time trial to Rocamadour, David Gaudu secured his fourth place in the general classification of the ‘Grande Boucle’. Thanks to another solid performance on this penultimate day of racing, the 25-year-old Frenchman faced no danger to complete three weeks perfectly managed. Stefan Küng took eleventh place in this final time trial won by Wout Van Aert, while Groupama-FDJ retained its second place in the team classification. It is now time to head to Paris and the Champs Élysées to conclude a pretty successful Tour.
“I’m going to be patient”, Stefan Küng
There were still 40.7 kilometres to cover before being able to enjoy the traditional Parisian parade. For stage 20 of the Tour, all the riders still in competition therefore had to join Lacapelle-Marival and Rocamadour through a course both flat and hilly, but surely demanding after three weeks of effort. “The time trial was very special, because it was technical, with a lot of twists and turns,” added David Han, one of the team’s coaches. “It was the total opposite of the large stretch roads that we got in particular in the Dauphiné”. After a relatively early start, the world champion Filippo Ganna set a solid benchmark time of 48’41 on this course. It was still the best one when Stefan Küng got underway shortly before 4 p.m. Although the Swiss man was only four seconds behind the Italian at the first checkpoint, the double European champion then constantly lost time and eventually crossed the line in sixth position, with a time of 49’54. “It’s not a bad time, but it’s certainly not enough to beat the best in the world in the biggest race of the year,” Stefan said at the finish. “After the Tour de Suisse, where I was maybe at the best level of my career, I was really looking forward to this Tour de France. Unfortunately, I got sick with Covid, and although I was able to start, I have only been riding at 90% of my abilities since then. The body does not want to go beyond. I tried to fight every day and I was still able to do a good job as a domestique. However, to beat Ganna and the others here, 90% is certainly not enough. It’s frustrating because the preparation was perfect, but I’m going to be patient, recover and there are some great goals at the end of the year”.
“We can relax, finally”, David Gaudu
A bit later, the three riders of the team still in the top-15 overall also tackled this last time trial. Thibaut Pinot completed it in 52’38, Valentin Madouas in 51’34, while David Gaudu took the start with a very clear idea in mind. “The goal was really to keep fourth place overall, and therefore not to take any risks,” said David Han. “He did what he had to do, and we almost never talked about power. We focused on the course to avoid trouble. We quickly understood, with the intermediate checkpoints, that we had a good margin. So, we really played it safely and took no risks on the last part”. Always in the top thirty across the time trial, David Gaudu eventually took twenty-sixth place of the day, with a time of 51’09. It was more than enough to secure fourth place overall while Jonas Vingegaard could enjoy his overall win. “I just got a bit scared in the end, but I just misunderstood my coach”, smiled the young man. “I expected for Geraint Thomas to catch me, maybe even Pogacar. In the end, only Geraint came back and that was already something good. Anyway, I was tired today. It is time for the Tour to end”. It will indeed end tomorrow, and David Gaudu will finish just outside of the podium, while Valentin Madouas (11th) and Thibaut Pinot (15th) remain in the top-15 on the eve of the finish in Paris. “I am quite proud to finish fourth in the 2022 Tour de France”, said David. “We can relax, finally. We will be able to enjoy it a little tonight and celebrate with the team, and tomorrow, it will be just fun on the cobblestones of the Champs Elysées”.