After the first weekend of the Tour, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team remains in contention. After their crash the day before, all the riders managed to reach the finish line on the second stage on Sunday. For his first test in the mountains, Thibaut Pinot managed to hold his place alongside the other leaders. After having struggled from the first minutes of the race, David Gaudu showed some courage to complete this second stage and to remain in the race.

Although everyone had bandaged their wounds after a first stage that brought seven of the eight Groupama-FDJ riders to the ground, the second stage did not start as David Gaudu would have hoped for. As the battle for the breakaway took place in the first few minutes, the young climber, still suffering from his crash from the day before, was immediately distanced. Contorted but combative, the rider from Brittany hung on for about ten kilometers in the car’s convoy, hoping that the peloton would finally calm down. This finally happened after fifteen kilometers, when the riders passed the intermediate sprint and when the breakaway could go. “We expected a very tough day after yesterday’s stage,” said Thierry Bricaud. “We knew it was going to be very very complicated for David, who still felt severe pain in the tailbone. Fortunately the race settled down a bit, he was able to get back into the bunch and we got him back for the rest of the day”.

“We had to get through this day, and we did it”, Thierry Bricaud

Seven riders including Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe), Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R-La Mondiale) went up the road and the UAE Team Emirates team endeavoured to defend the Alexander Kristoff’s yellow jersey despite the climbing meters on the menu. Therefore, the gap never grew to a huge extent, and the riders completed the first two major climbs of the Tour, the Col de la Colmiane and the Col du Turini, at a good pace. A real battle of position then took place during the first passage through Nice, when it was time to go for the Col d’Eze-Col des 4 Chemins sequence. Already much smaller after the Turini, the bunch continued to lose riders from the back though the GC favourites did not launch the fight. Julian Alaphilippe, on the other hand, was the first to launch a real attack on the last climb, and was later rewarded with the stage win, dominating Marc Hirschi and Adam Yates in the sprint. A few meters behind, a bunch of about thirty units crossed the line, with Thibaut Pinot and Sébastien Reichenbach inside it.

“It was calmer in terms of stress, but it was more intensive than yesterday,” explained the Swiss champion. “It was a very difficult race and the Tour de France has now really started. The following days and after-days are often very tough for riders who crash, but Thibaut is in the mix. He’s probably in some pain, but I think it’s pretty reassuring to see him with the first ones today”. “In the end,” added Thierry Bricaud, “the riders did not have such a good day, but Thibaut limited the damage and that is the main point. We had no ambition this morning, only not to lose time on the other favourites. We knew that a crash, especially one like yesterday, could have consequences. So, from that point of view, it’s a pretty good day. We survived today and we hope it will get better tomorrow, and better and better as the week goes on. But today was the big day, we had to get through it, and we did it”.

“It’s reassuring,” David Gaudu

The team leader remains in the mix overall, and his lieutenant, David Gaudu, remains in the race. “It’s reassuring, because even though I still had pain in the finale, it still faded over time,” David said. “I was very, very scared, as was the whole team, when I was dropped at kilometer 0. I couldn’t force the pedals without feeling immense pain in my sacrum area. It got better and better, and even though it was still a tough day, the goal of getting at the finish on time was met. Thibaut finishes in the first group, so it’s all-good and the whole team feels a little better than last night. I just passed x-rays as well, and that’s reassuring because nothing is broken. I still feel limited when I have to make big accelerations, but we hope that it will evolve in the right way. It has already been the case today. We will continue the osteopathy and physiotherapy sessions, and given that there is no fracture, there is no reason for it to develop in a bad way”. “We can hope to get David back in good condition by the next weekend, and that’s good news,” concluded Thierry Bricaud.

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