Fourth and first French in the 2022 Tour de France, David Gaudu made a date with the future, competing in the Grande Boucle for the first time in a unique leading role. The Breton is already thinking about the podium for the next few years.
At 25 years old, David Gaudu already has five participations in the Tour de France. But he experienced the 2022 edition as the only leader, for the first time in his career in the Grande Boucle. If he finished 13 minutes and 39 seconds behind winner Jonas Vingegaard, the Frenchman took fourth overall. A position full of promises for the future.
A team up to par, like his friend Madouas
Since the start of the season, Groupama-FDJ has been somewhat in suspense over the question of leadership between David Gaudu and Thibaut Pinot. But the more experienced, diminished by a Covid before the event and chilled by his past experiences, preferred to take a step back. The Breton gradually emerged from the shadow of his elder, whom he had supported during the Tour de France 2019. However, the heralded “guardian angel” had liberties, repeatedly trying his luck in a breakup However, David Gaudu claims to have benefited from the experience of the “road captain” Pinot in the mountains.
In addition to the Franc-Comtois, historic leader of Marc Madiot’s team, David Gaudu was able to count especially with his friend Valentin Madouas. The two men, youth competitors, grew up together, France youth teams until their transition to professionals. “Valentin, every time, saves my ass”, summed up Gaudu in the evening of the 17th stage, thanking Madouas for his contribution on the mountain: “I have never seen him at this level. He calls me bravo but I tell him thank you. you to him.”
Recruited this year, Australian climber Michael Storer also seems to be slowly making his mark on the group. Versatile, Luxembourger Kevin Geniets has often accompanied Gaudu this season. Surpassed by the continental Groupama-FDJ, Geniets could be the first of a long series. In the medium term, French talents Lenny Martinez (19) and Romain Grégoire (19) will undoubtedly also have a role to play alongside Gaudu. By focusing on training, Groupama-FDJ will in principle have the means to support their new strongman.
A new strategy in the face of lack of trust
In 2021, David Gaudu lived with the sprinter Arnaud Démare and his companions. Eleventh overall, the climber cracked during the first ascent of the Ventoux, of the two offers. This time, it was “on the beat,” often surrounded by his teammates, that Gaudu ran. Falling quickly during the Granon stage, he finished fifth, dropping Tadej Pogacar in the final, in full failure. “I wanted to try a strategy from previous years, where I went to the limit of the explosion before doing the calculations at the finish, he explained to the Team on Monday. There, I knew that I did not have the physical means to choose. go up to Vingegaard and Pogacar when it started.”
But in the Alpe d’Huez, David Gaudu lifted part of the mystery about his new way of running, motivated by other reasons as well. “Holy shit, I don’t trust myself, regretted it after stripping pretty early on the last climb. I’m afraid I’m going to blow up, so I’m climbing at my own pace when I can, to cling to them. I’m disappointed, I’ve lacked confidence since Dauphiné.” In June, on the very difficult Plateau de Salaison during the last stage of the Dauphiné, David Gaudu had spent more than 7 minutes.
Revanchard in Mende during this 14th stage of the Tour de France, finished third of the favourites, “letting the horses go”. “Sometimes, in the head, there are locks that jump”, he confided before the Pyrenees, which should also give him confidence for the rest of his career. Victim of a difficult start to the season, disturbed by falls and injuries, Gaudu, in any case, has largely saved his season.
“A tour changes a driver, really”
“The Tour will remain the number 1 goal for my next seasons, Gaudu promises now. Although I want to discover the Giro and return to the Ardennes, especially Liège. But this Tour has allowed me to go through a journey, physical and mental. When you ride twenty-one days with a 54×11 gear on the flat and you go up to 400 watts as soon as it goes up, you can only progress. So when you’re also fourth… A Tour, it changes a rider, really “.
Since the beginning of the year, Marc Madiot had set himself the goal of a podium for his men. If David Gaudu has stuck to the task, he has lost more than six minutes compared to the third step occupied by Geraint Thomas. “The crest line was the podium. We are not far from the podium so we hit the mark by marking this line, returns the manager, at the time of the balance. I find that the goals are achieved on the way, in the image. we have created, in action with three French drivers in the top 15”.
“A fourth place in a Tour represents a lot for a rider, Judge Thibaut Pinot, third in 2014. It’s something strong. It shows you can play for the podium.” “Now in the head, we are all focused on the podium”, Madouas is already launching for the future. Inevitably, with the level of difference seen this year between the Vingegaard-Pogacar duo and the rest of the favourites, the target may seem high, especially with Primoz Roglic, Egan Bernal or Richard Carapaz returning or Jai Hindley, the last winner del Giro, who wants to discover the event.
“Now, the most difficult thing is to confirm. But it motivates me to keep moving forward, to aim even higher, David Gaudu admitted. But we saw Pogacar longing on the Granon stage. The dugout. It inspires me to work even harder and try. to catch up with them. If I succeed? I have no idea. But I’ll try.” The appointment, then, seems to have been made with the Tour de France 2023.