David Gaudu and his escort to conquer fourth place

The Groupama-FDJ cycling team experienced another day full of emotions on the roads of the Tour de France this Thursday, on the occasion of the last mountain stage of this 2022 edition. Between Lourdes and Hautacam, Thibaut Pinot and Valentin Madouas first managed to overtake Aubisque, but then both spun to allow David Gaudu to climb back into the overall classification. In the final ascent, the young Breton was thus able to clearly distance Nairo Quintana and occupy fourth position in the general classification with three stages to go. This Thursday evening, Valentin Madouas and Thibaut Pinot are also in the top 15 overall.

One last great piece before home straight to Paris. This is, without a doubt, how most runners stopped the eighteenth stage of the Tour, in the Pyrenees, from Lourdes to Hautacam. However, the emergence of a breakaway was slow, as usual, and the peloton still had to fight for about sixty kilometers before things settled down a bit, on the first slopes of the Col d’Aubisque, the first difficulty of the day 17 km at 7%, out of category). Then present in a large breakaway group, Valentin Madouas was joined by Thibaut Pinot, who started against him from the peloton. A semblance of calm only returned mid-climb, and as the French duo escorted the top escapees to the pass, David Gaudu found his five other teammates in a yellow jersey group but reduced to a trickle. “When we see that we have two in the breakaway and six in the peloton at the top of the Aubisque, it’s still not bad,” proudly launched Marc Madiot later. “The boys ensured today, Philippe Mauduit added. I think that helped reassure David.” At the top of Aubisque, Thibaut Pinot moved into second position and then tackled the Col de Spandelles (10 km at 8.3%) in the company of Valentin Madouas and a dozen other breakaways, with a close margin at four minutes with the yellow shirt. .

“There are days like this when everything goes well,” david gaudu

However, the fight for that same yellow shirt began soon after, logically reducing the chances of the main men. Despite everything, Thibaut Pinot clung to the wheels of Van Aert and Dani Martinez all the way to the top to fall in a breakaway reduced to three small units. Within the peloton, David Gaudu did not force him when Tadej Pogacar launched hostilities, and very quickly found himself with his direct competitors. “My fight was not with the first three, it was with the others, said the interested party. So I stayed with them.” The Breton has also stabilized the difference to a large minute with the yellow jersey group, both on the ascent and descent of the Spandelles pass. At the foot of the Hautacam climb (13.5 km at 8%, Hors category), his teammate Thibaut Pinot was sailing two minutes ahead of Vingegaard and Pogacar. An insufficient margin to play for victory. “I was already happy to switch with Van Aert at Spandelles, and I knew I could then serve as a support point for David. indicated the Franc-Comtois. He wanted to go as far as possible to Hautacam to help him back. When we were told he would be back quickly, I understood that my role was to wait for David. The hope of playing the stage lasted two kilometers but the important thing today was not there”. Nine kilometers from the summit, the former three-stage winner of the Tour fell back and waited for his Breton leader.

A little further down, the latter could already count on the support of Valentin Madouas, back with his lifelong partner on the first slopes of Hautacam. “David felt the right moment and attacked Quintana just before returning to Valentí. explained Philippe Mauduit. This allowed them to widen the gap to the group they were in and chase the Thomas group. Valentin pulled away just before David fell on Thibaut, it was good.” Having pushed his Colombian rival away, Gaudu therefore tried to bite as much time as possible. A little more than five kilometers from the summit, he found Thibaut Pinot who towed him for almost two pitches.. “I lent a hand, even if I would have preferred to go further, do moreThibaut said. Anyway, I couldn’t pedal anymore when I moved away. I gave it my all”. “I found again a very large Valentin and a very large ThibautDavid assured. The hardest part, in the end, was letting Nairo go. But there are days like those when everything goes well: I attack Nairo, I let him go, I go back to Valentin, Valentin rolls, I go back to Thibaut, Thibaut rolls and I let the rest of my forces go. It resolved itself like a musical paper”. In the final, the youngster even got back to Geraint Thomas and continued to widen the gaps to finally take the fifth position on the line, almost three minutes ahead of Nairo Quintana.

“A Sacred Adventure”, Thibaut Pinot

At the end of the eighteenth stage, David Gaudu therefore occupies the fourth position overall, 2’30 ahead of the Colombian, fifth. “The front three are stronger, I shouldn’t be ashamed, David threw. By Sunday, they will all have won at least one Tour. For my part, I have never made a top-5 in a Grand Tour. It will be, I hope, my first. I think I would have signed up initially. In any case, I’m proud to be in this place at the moment, but there are two days left and we’ll stay focused because anything can happen.” “We saw a great team work today, Marc emphasized again. We were there. There was an involvement of everyone, pilots and management. It is very good to live. This evening we are at the foot of the podium. The massifs have now been crossed, while a likely lively ‘transition’ stage, as well as the final time trial in Rocamadour loom before the Champs Elysées. “I’m happy to finish the mountain on a good note.Thibaut pointed out. David moves up to fourth so it’s a really good day for us. Although I have never been 100% personally in this Tour, in any case we will have lived a great adventure with the team. This is what must be remembered.” We can also remember that three days before the end, Valentin Madouas (12e) and Thibaut Pinot (15e), both are in the top 15 of the general classification.

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