In the aftermath of the second rest day, David Gaudu did not experience any setback on Tuesday in the only individual time trial of the Tour de France. Quite the opposite. Over the hilly twenty-two kilometres between Passy and Combloux, the Frenchman even matched some of the favourites and eventually claimed an excellent tenth place at the finish. He remains ninth in the general classification, more than seventeen minutes behind the winner of stage 16 and yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard. On Wednesday, the riders will tackle the “queen stage” of the Tour.
On Tuesday, in Haute-Savoie, the Tour de France 2023 entered the third and final week. It all restarted with a time trial, the only one on the menu in this 110th edition. A bit more than twenty-two kilometres made up this unusual race against the clock. “It was quite a hard time trial,” confirmed David Han, one of the team’s coaches. “There was a first climb almost right away, a long very fast descent, a bit of flat then the Domancy climb and finally three kilometers at 5% to join the finish line. It was not a course for specialists, nor for pure climbers, but somewhere in-between”. Shortly after 1:30 p.m., Olivier Le Gac was the first team rider to tackle this course, before Lars van den Berg and Quentin Pacher did the same. Two hours later, the former double European champion Stefan Küng also got underway and made a very good start, even setting the fastest time in the first intermediate. The Swiss man, however, struggled on the last third of the race. “At the beginning, I felt good, then it let me go”, he said. “I felt the fatigue of this Tour”. At the finish, Stefan Küng therefore took provisional fifth place, fifty-two seconds behind leader Rémi Cavagna.
“One of his best time trials”, David Han
Later on, Kevin Geniets also covered the course before Thibaut Pinot and David Gaudu set off. Ninth overall at the start of the time trial, the Groupama-FDJ leader immediately showed he was in the mix as he placed himself in the top-10 at all intermediate checkpoints. In the Domancy climb, the Breton even gained a few places and eventually crossed the finish line in provisional fifth position. After the finish of the last competitors, and the crushing victory of Jonas Vingegaard, the French climber secured tenth in the stage. “I felt quite good, and I wanted to do a good time trial,” he commented. “When we did the recon, I knew it suited me well. I managed my effort well, and in the end, the crowd helped me to give it my all”. “David keeps on going with the team’s goal, which is to continue to fight every day until the end”, added his coach, David Han. “The goal for him was to do it full gas and we are very satisfied. I think it’s one of his best time trials. He had never done a top-10 in the WorldTour in a time trial, and at this level, it’s quite a performance. He is also sixth among the favorites. As for the others, they used the time trial to get the engine going again. It was important in anticipation of tomorrow so as not to switch off the body for two days in a row”.
“I was thinking more about the mountains”, Thibaut Pinot
Tenth of the stage, 3’31 from the yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard, David Gaudu retained his ninth place overall. He is now more than a quarter of an hour from the Dane as the big alpine stage featuring more than 5,000 meters of climbing is looming. “The third week is usually my best one”, David said. “Today was a good time trial, but it was only a thirty-minute effort. Tomorrow is the queen stage of the Tour de France, and we’ll need to have the legs because there can be some damage”. “I was thinking more about the mountains than about today”, said Thibaut Pinot. “It was a good effort to unblock the legs. Tomorrow and Saturday, it could just as well be for the GC riders as for the breakaway… We’ll see, but we’ll have to be as strong as possible”.