Six days of racing remain, but the bodies did suffer quite a lot on Sunday, on the second Alpine stage of 2023 the Tour de France. Always aggressive and also supported by Olivier Le Gac in front, Thibaut Pinot managed to enter the day’s breakaway that fought for the win. However, the Frenchman proved to be tired after the last days’ efforts and had to settle for sixth place at the top of the final climb. Within the bunch, David Gaudu showed persistence to overcome a difficult moment, then followed the favorites for a long time in the last ascent. Sixth among the “big guns”, the Breton gained one spot in the general classification this Sunday (9th). It’s now time for a welcome rest day.
At the start of Les Gets this Sunday, many riders were already thinking of Monday’s rest day. Before reaching it, however, they had to cover an even greater elevation gain than the day before (almost 4500 meters!). The first climb being located after thirty kilometres, the fight for the breakaway proved to be fierce once again, and Groupama-FDJ actively took part in it. Eventually, several groups of riders managed to gradually break away on that first, non-listed climb. “After numerous attacks and attempts, especially from Kevin, Stefan, Quentin, Lars, it was Thibaut and Olivier who managed to get into the breakaway”, said Philippe Mauduit. “It wasn’t easy given the speed they were going at”. Like the day before, Jumbo-Visma tried to keep it under control, but everything calmed down after a huge crash. Lars van den Berg and Kevin Geniets were caught in there but were able to get going again. In the lead, Thibaut Pinot and Olivier Le Gac first stayed in a chasing group of about thirty men, which bridged across to the first two fugitives halfway through the race. The breakaway then headed to the Col de la Croix Fry, where the first damage was made. Then, in the Col des Aravis, Marc Soler took a step ahead before being joined in by Wout van Aert, Krists Neilands and Wout Poels. Thibaut Pinot remained in the back within a chasing group that gradually lost time on the leading men.
“I was dead”, Thibaut Pinot
At the end of the flat part leading to Megève and of the Domancy downhill, the Frenchman therefore tackled the Côte des Amerands/Montée du Bettex sequence almost a minute and thirty seconds behind the first group. In the lead, Wout Poels quickly got rid of his rivals and eventually gained time on everyone throughout the final climb. A couple of minutes behind, Thibaut Pinot followed some moves and kept a good pace but could not contest the victory. At the summit, he still claimed a solid sixth place: his third top-10 since Bilbao. “It’s a shame because it was a good chance today, but I was again at the limit,” said Thibaut. “They were stronger up front. We couldn’t follow them in the Aravis climb, and we lost time in the final. For sure I’m disappointed after spending three days in front. Eventually, I needed to feel good today, but I was dead. Friday and Saturday’s stages took their toll, and I surely paid for it today”. In the second race, that of the peloton, David Gaudu experienced it all on Sunday. The Groupama-FDJ leader first had a tough start to the race and was even slightly dropped from the bunch in the Col de la Croix Fry, more than fifty kilometres from the finish. “I wasn’t feeling well at all with the heat”, said David. “I was really struggling, like yesterday in the first climbs. I tried not to panic, to take as many water bottles as possible, and we paced ourselves as well as possible with Kevin”.
Still alongside his leader at that point, the Luxembourger played a decisive role and did “a fantastic job”, according to Philippe Mauduit. “I was really at the limit after the hard day yesterday”, said Kevin. “However, when I saw that David was too, I said to myself: we can’t let it go now. He told me to set a softer pace and I knew exactly what to do. I have my habits with him. We know each other very well now, as we do so many race days together. When I’m behind him, I know how he feels. He just had to find his rhythm. I did a decent pace, and we never lost a lot of time. At some point he felt better, and I said: let’s go.” The duo thus came back in the peloton before the summit of the Col de la Croix Fry, and from then on, David Gaudu recovered his full abilities. “The team once again got me out of trouble, especially Kevin who did a great job”, said David. “Then, as the passes went by, I felt better and better”. The young climber therefore approached the final two climbs within the peloton and was still up there after the first accelerations. Some podium contenders were dropped at the bottom of the Bettex climb, but David Gaudu hung on a little longer in the wheel of the “big four” of the Tour before losing ground.
“A good note before the rest day”, David Gaudu
At the top, he took sixth place among the favorites, and therefore gained a position overall this Sunday. “The day’s outcome is rather good, and I’m happy with my final climb”, said David. “When my teammates saw how I was on the first two ascents, they surely thought it was going to be hard, but they did a great job and managed to remotivate me. Then, the head took over from the legs. I told myself that I couldn’t give up. In those moments, your pride and your mindset sometimes take over. In any case, we finish on a good note before the rest day”. “David is sometimes in trouble, but he never cracks mentally and that’s really important,” said Kevin. “It was a tough day. Tough in front, tough behind”, summed up Philippe. “It’s part of the Tour de France but the team’s state of mind was once again positive. Our riders were brave and fought well. David did a nice final, and it’s a positive note compared to what we have experienced in recent days”. Before the final week of the Tour, David Gaudu and Thibaut Pinot sit 9th and 13th overall respectively, more than fourteen minutes behind the leader Jonas Vingegaard. “We will need to recover, then there will be the time trial, the queen stage and a stage in the Vosges on Saturday”, recalled David. “We’re still very motivated before Paris”, concluded Thibaut.