As in the other flat stages since the start of this 2020 Tour de France, there weren’t many riders willing to join the breakaway between Châtelaillon-Plage and Poitiers on Wednesday. After an attack at kilometer 0, Matthieu Ladagnous thus found himself alone in the lead for more than three hours. The Frenchman, eventually caught by the sprinters’ teams with forty kilometers to go, obviously won the red bib of the most combative rider, like his teammate Stefan Küng the day before.
“I enjoyed my day”, Matthieu Ladagnous
Another stage suited to the sprinters was on the Tour de France menu on Wednesday, and no one seemed willing to disrupt this scenario. Except Matthieu Ladagnous. The Groupama-FDJ rider attacked straight from the start, but there was no one to follow him. “I thought 2-3 guys would come with me, but it did not happen,” said the 35-year-old. “I had a little hope when five-six guys tried behind me, with some good rouleurs including my teammate Stefan Kung, but the pack wouldn’t let them go, so I just kept going on my own.” The European time trial champion indeed tried to surprise the bunch, along with five other riders, twenty kilometers after his teammate broke away. “He was part of an interesting move, there were serious guys with him,” Thierry Bricaud recalled. “It was dangerous, we could tell, as the peloton reacted immediately and it was no fun for ten kilometers. In any case, it’s reassuring as it shows that our riders are focused and motivated. It is very good”.
After this attempt was neutralized and reduced Matthieu Ladagnous’ gap to one minute, the latter was able to regain some ground and lead the race for a further hundred kilometers. “Matthieu had fun in the lead without pushing too hard, it was a good day for him”, summarized Thierry. “We don’t have a sprinter, we no longer have to protect Thibaut for the general classification, so we try to enjoy ourselves,” confirmed Matthieu. “This type of breakaway is indeed unlikely to make it to the end, but you can’t win if you don’t try. 100% of the winners did gamble…” Although he never had the opportunity to believe in his chances today, Matthieu Ladagnous found happiness elsewhere. “I told my kids about it this morning,” he said. “I asked them, “Do you want me to be in the break? “. They said, “Come on daddy, go for it!”. I had fun today, and I think they did too in front of the TV.”
“We like tomorrow’s profile”, Thierry Bricaud
On the finish line, the Frenchman evidently received the most combative rider prize, succeeding to his teammate Stefan Küng, who was wearing the red bib today. The rest of the team safely made it to the finish. “Regardless, these are still days that are a bit stressful, days when we cannot completely relax”, added Thierry. “There were some crashes in the final and some guys went home, but we didn’t have a rider involved. Considering the stage that we were facing, it’s therefore a satisfying day”. That of tomorrow could be even more so, at the end of the longest stage of the 2020 Tour (218 kilometers) towards Sarran, which will offer undulating finish. “From now on, the stages will suit us better”, concluded Thierry. “We like tomorrow’s profile, except there is a very flat first part of the stage which is not easy to manage. The breakaway can just as easily go straight away as it can form after an hour of fight. There is a bit of a lottery. The stage is not particularly suitable to David or Thibaut, but the others will have their cards to play. I think that many will have the same idea as us tomorrow, and with the breakaway specialists, the punchers and the riders capable of winning in small groups, that makes a lot of people interested in the stage…”