David Gaudu emerged from the inaugural Basque weekend of the Tour de France 2023 in twelfth place overall. He finished in the first group, along with the other main contenders for the final podium, in Donostia after a very fast peloton ascent up the slopes of Jaizkibel. Victory of the day went to a Frenchman: Victor Lafay (Cofidis).

On the second day of the race, the Tour de France saw the longest stage of its 2023 route take place: 209 kilometres between Vitoria-Gasteiz and Donostia, the finishing town of the annual eponymous “Clasica”. Despite some early differences in the overall classification on Saturday, only three attackers formed the day’s breakaway: Rémi Cavagna (Soudal – Quick Step), Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies) and the holder of the polka-dot best climber jersey, Neilson Powless (EF Education – Easy Post). Their lead reached the five-minute mark, double the maximum gap recorded the day before. “They’re three very strong guys, so they made life hard for the peloton”, said Philippe Mauduit. Led by UAE Team Emirates, the peloton gradually got closer to the trio that had become a duo on the Côte d’Alkiza, with Cavagna dropping back. The Groupama-FDJ riders never strayed far from the wheels of the riders in the Yellow Jersey team, until they reached the finish in excellent conditions. “The whole team did an excellent job,” says Philippe Mauduit. “Olivier, Quentin and Lars in particular.”

As on the previous day, Act II of the Basque start to the Tour de France 2023 featured five climbs included in the KOM classification. The final difficulty, the ascent of the famous Jaizkibel (8.1km at 5.3%), is longer than the Côte de Pike, but less steep. It was one man alone, Neilson Powless, who took on these decisive slopes, having eliminated Edvald Boasson Hagen on the Côte de Gurutze. However, the high pace of the peloton meant he couldn’t hold out for long. “It was a very fast and difficult climb”, Valentin Madouas commented after the finish. In the midst of the Basque crowd, which once again turned out in force, the skimming was done progressively, until the acceleration of Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) for the summit bonuses. “I had yesterday’s stage in mind in particular, and today the main aim was to finish with the favourites”, explained David Gaudu who stayed at his own pace and reached the summit at a controlled distance from the top two finishers in the Tour de France 2022.

“The contract has been fulfilled”, David Gaudu

David Gaudu swung into the Yellow Jersey group, while Thibaut Pinot and Valentin Madouas were in a group too far behind to come back on the descent. “I wanted to stay with David as much as possible, to hang on as best I could in case of problems on the descent, explained Valentin Madouas. I missed a little something. Maybe I haven’t fully recovered from yesterday’s stage and last Sunday’s Championship.” In the streets of Donostia, it was likely to come down to a sprint to win this second stage… until Victor Lafay (Cofidis) attacked at the Flamme rouge. He managed to hold off the best sprinters in the group for a few metres. “Well done to him, because you had to be able to do it and hold on,” congratulated David Gaudu. I was able to tip over and finish within the winner’s time. The contract has been fulfilled”.We approached this stage like the one the day before, as if it were a one-day race,” developed Philippe Mauduit, aware that the first big piece of the Tour de France 2023 has now passed with this first weekend, which was not to be neglected.

David Gaudu emerged from the two tricky stages in the Basque country in twelfth place overall, 22 seconds behind race leader Adam Yates and equal in time to the seventh-placed rider. “I’m at the front today, I was at the front yesterday, so it’s a good result”, he summed up. While the start of Monday’s third stage will again be held in the Basque country at Amorebieta-Etxano, the riders will then leave Spain for France at km 134, before a probable grouped finish in Bayonne. “This stage, and also Tuesday’s, will be quieter than this weekend’s,” commented Valentin Madouas. “We’ll need to recover as much as we can,” continued David Gaudu. After that, the focus will be on the Pyrenees, with the finish in Cauterets on Wednesday and the Col de Marie-Blanque on Thursday.

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