The last week of the Tour de France has started today towards Villard-de-Lans. Thanks to Sébastien Reichenbach, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team was able to enter it in a good way as the Swiss champion took a remarkable third place after a long breakaway. Reichenbach even got his first ever podium on the Tour de France on that occasion. Unfortunately, the team lost David Gaudu who had to retire from the race.
“All the riders tried”, Yvon Madiot
After the second rest day, very little has changed on the Tour de France. Therefore, just like in the previous stages, the fight was once again very intense at the start of stage 16. “We couldn’t miss the breakaway today,” said Sébastien Reichenbach. “Last week, few breakaways made it to the end, but we knew that the favourites’ teams were not going to control today. We really were on the alert at the start”. “The guys did a good job at the start of the race,” said Yvon Madiot. “In the first thirty kilometers, all the riders of the team tried to get into the breakaway, all went up front at one point, and it was Seb who eventually managed to enter the good move”. After having already attacked on stages 9 and 12, the Swiss champion took place in the good group with 140 kilometers to go, together with Julian Alaphilippe, Richard Carapaz, Lennard Kämna, Warren Barguil and ten other riders or so.
As expected and hoped the peloton did not stand in the way of the breakaway on Tuesday. The leaders were then able to create a gap of more than 10 minutes and go on to fight for the stage win. Although the group remained quite compact during the first two big climbs of the day, it broke apart in the Montée de Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte, with more than 20 kilometers to go. Quentin Pacher launched the first attempt, but Ineos then started to make the selection and Richard Carapaz eventually made three explosive attacks as they approached the summit. Sébastien Reichenbach managed to take on two of them but had to let it go after the third one. A few meters before him, Lennard Kämna eventually dropped the Ecuadorian before heading for victory, after a long descending false flat and a 2,500-meter climb towards the finish. Left alone in third position, behind Kämna and Carapaz, Sébastien Reichenbach fought to the end to net a fine third place place on the line.
“I have no regrets”, Sébastien Reichenbach
“I was happy to be in front and the legs were good as well,” said the Swiss at the finish. “I just came across stronger than me. I followed 2-3 times, and thought I was getting back on them 200-300 meters from the summit, but they accelerated again and it was too late. To be honest, I thought we were going to pass over this climb together and that it was going to be played out on the final climb, or on the flat before. I didn’t think there was going to be attacks that soon but it turned out to be like this. I have no regrets. I think I rode well, they were just stronger”. “Seb did a brilliant stage”, noted Yvon. “He doesn’t miss much, but it makes all the difference. I told Seb to have confidence in himself. He was with the best: Carapaz, a winner of a Grand Tour, Kämna, a winner on the Dauphiné. He’s a great rider as well and he proved it. They were perhaps more explosive than him, who is more of a pure climber and needs more percentages. However, there are also great names behind him today”. Thanks to Reichenbach, Groupama-FDJ got their first podium on this Tour de France, but it was also the first podium for the Swiss champion in four appearances in the race. “It’s a great stage for us and for the riders,” concluded Yvon. “We did what we had to do. We’re there, we’re on the attack, we’re courageous and I think we will be like that until the end since everyone looks a little better. We’re set to do a good end of the Tour”.
Unfortunately, the team will have to continue the race without David Gaudu, as the French climber was forced to retire on Tuesday.