With a sixteen-kilometre, quite demanding time trial on the menu, stage 4 of the Critérium du Dauphiné was supposed to establish a first hierarchy among the GC contenders. It was then a first test for David Gaudu, and the young man got through it pretty well. While Alexey Lutsenko won the stage and Lukas Pöstlberger kept the yellow jersey, the Groupama-FDJ’s leader took 29th on the day, one minute behind the winner, but remains in the top 20 overall before the great fight expected in the mountains this weekend.
Throughout the first three days of racing, the GC contenders of the Critérium du Dauphiné mostly made sure to stay safe. On stage 4, however, there was no place to hide in the time trial designed between Firminy and Roche-La-Molière. Although only 16,4 kilometres were to be covered, the undulating profile made it a hard one to manage. “The course was special today, with a very technical first part, including slight downhill sections, many corners and road furniture,” said Yvon Madiot. “We had to be careful, but without losing too much time. Then, there was a really physical part, with long, uphill sections. Therefore, the speed was changing constantly and you had to be able to update you pace quite often”. Leaving shortly before 3 p.m., Bruno Armirail was keen to do a good performance as a specialist of the event. After an effort of twenty-two minutes and twenty-nine seconds, he eventually set a solid time placing him just outside the provisional top-10 (26th eventually). Shortly after, Valentin Madouas crossed the line in exactly twenty-three minutes, and then came the team leader David Gaudu.
“I’m personally satisfied”, David Gaudu
Right on time at the intermediate check-point, the Frenchman lost a bit more ground on the second part of the course, finally taking twenty-ninth on the day, fifty-nine seconds behind the winner Alexey Lutsenko. “I did not know what to expect before this time trial,” said David at the finish. “I had a bit of jagged feelings since the start of the Dauphiné. I am personally satisfied with my time trial. It’s a shame that I cracked in the last 3-4 kilometers, but it’s still a good TT and it gives me confidence for the future. This is maybe the first time where I have had such feelings on the TT bike, with strength and velocity. I’m happy with it, and it was also a very good test for the Tour’s time trials”. In comparison to the top favourites, David Gaudu lost around forty seconds on Wednesday, but others also finished behind him or just around. “The overall balance is good,” said Yvon. “We limited the losses compared to many climbers. We’re pretty much where we thought we would be. David lost the opportunity to set a super time on the last four kilometres. He cracked a bit at the end and the fact he had to leave the training camp a bit earlier might have had an impact”.
However, everything remains possible for the young man. At the end of this fourth stage, he sits in 19th place overall, one minute from the yellow jersey still worn by Lukas Pöstlberger, but forty-seven behind his first real rival for the GC. “On to the next stage,” David Gaudu said immediately. “We will stay focused on the next two days, then there will be a beautiful and hard weekend. The goal is to get a good overall in this Dauphiné, to have fun and above all to try to build up towards the Tour”.