On Sunday, Romain Grégoire came just a few seconds away from scoring his first top-10 in a time trial at WorldTour level. On the difficult 26-kilometre route set to conclude the 2023 edition of the Tour de Suisse, the young Frenchman made a strong impression towards Abtwil. Better and better over the course, he eventually claimed eleventh place, less than a minute behind the winner Juan Ayuso, and sitting among the specialists and GC favourites. In the overall ranking, won by Mattias Skjelmose, he secured fifteenth place and completed his week in fine style.
Before ending a wounded Tour de Suisse, the riders had to complete the second individual time trial of the race on Sunday, over 25.7 kilometres between St. Gallen and Abtwil. “The first part was quite flat and very fast until km 13”, said Anthony Bouillod. “Then, from km 13 to km 22, there were nine hard kilometres where you needed to push really hard on the pedals. Eventually, 3.5 km from the finish, there was the final descent leading to the line. It was a bit technical because it was on a small road”. Among the four riders from the Groupama-FDJ cycling team still racing, Sam Watson was the first to get underway, at 3:33 p.m. “Everyone, riders and staff, were well committed for this stage”, said Sébastien Joly. “It made it possible for us to get back into the race today.” “The guys did a good time trial, starting with Sam who achieved a good time at the first intermediate, even if he struggled a bit on the final climb,” said Anthony. However, with a mark of 34’02, the British rider remained well positioned in the provisional standings for a while. Later, Quentin Pacher and Michael Storer, with times of 34’16 and 34’15 respectively, put on an almost similar performance.
“It’s really a great performance”, Anthony Bouillod
Last rider of the team on the launch pad, Romain Grégoire started at 4:05 p.m., shortly before the big favorites. “I was behind him, and he was very focused, very careful”, testified Anthony. “The plan was to really focus on speed, managing the effort and handling the aero position in the first part, and then focus on power on the climb. He managed his effort really well as we planned, and that’s why he did a very good time. On a course like this, management is key.” Once all the riders covered the route, Romain Grégoire was 26th in the first intermediate and 17th in the second one. He also set the eighth provisional time when he finished, before slipping down to eleventh after the last riders’ finish. “We thought it was possible to do top-20 like in the first time trial, or even top-15, but to get close to the top-10 like he did means it’s really a great performance”, said Anthony Bouillod. “He confirms his potential and his versatility, which we already knew, at WorldTour level. He blows us away race after race, but that’s no surprise.”
“A good week of work”, Romain Grégoire
Thanks to his day’s performance, the 20-year-old Frenchman secured his 15th place overall. “The objective we set at the start was met”, assured Sébastien. “It was a first for him in a WorldTour stage race with high mountains. The stage with passes at 2000 metres of altitude was important for him to see where he stood. It bodes well for the future. We can be satisfied”. “I was not in the mood to think about performance these last three days, but eventually, it’s still been a solid week”, said Romain. “Performance-wise, it’s been a good week of work. Even if I didn’t really play the leading roles, I tried to hang on and make as much effort as possible which will serve me for the future. It can be for the future week-long stage races or very soon on the French championships. I’ll now try to recover well and the shape should be good next week.”