David Gaudu: “Being the best French rider in the Tour de France makes no sense”

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Behind the GC Goliaths of the 2022 Tour de France – Pogačar, Vingaard, Thomas and Yates, all from the big three teams – there is outsider David Gaudu, sitting in fifth position, 1h38 behind.

“If you had told me before the start that I would be sitting there, about thirty seconds from the podium at the end of the first week, I would have taken it straight away,” the Groupama-FDJ rider told reporters. . Monday in a day off press conference.

“I felt pretty good in the mountains. I was just behind the best, Pogačar and Vingaard. It gives me a lot of motivation. »

Gaudu avoided the pitfalls of the first week and finished the peloton on the cobbles. His only bad experience came on the road to Lausanne during stage 8.

Caught up in an early accident, he escaped unscathed without wasting time.

“Doing a Tour de France without crashing is practically impossible,” he said at the time. “If it’s our worst race day, and there’s still one, I’ll take it.”

The 25-year-old is a second ahead of captain and fellow DSM team player Romain Bardet. Although it is something his national media highly values, Gaudu has no interest in finishing as the highest-placed Frenchman.

“’I’ve always said it doesn’t mean anything, and I will continue to say it. Ultimately, if you start playing this game between French riders who are fifth or sixth overall, we won’t advance.

Gaudu also pondered another burning question: how to beat race leader Tadej Pogačar?

“Even isolated on the pavement, he was very strong. You never know, he might crack. No one is safe from a day without. But for now, I think it’s the strongest driver. I think a lot of teams are also wondering how to dethrone him, and I don’t have the answer either.

Gaudu’s passion for the Alps

“I can’t wait to get into the Alps, my favorite mountain range. It’s an area that I know almost by heart,” he said.

Gaudu made many training trips there. Stages 11 and 12 promise to be the toughest of the race for the moment, with a finish at the Col de Granon and Alpe d’Huez respectively, and they are the ones that give him the most motivation.

There is also a romantic appeal: he remembers seeing the Tour climb the legendary 21 hairpins of the Alpe on television as a child, then re-enacting it in a corner of his house.

The Tour is heating up

With a heat wave set to hit France on Tuesday, temperatures could reach 40 degrees Celsius later in the week.

“It worries me a bit,” Gaudu said. “I hope that we will avoid the worst by being in the mountains at altitude. But it’s not something you can ultimately prevent: your body says yes or no to the heat.

The Frenchman added that he had done a lot of sauna sessions before coming to the Tour in anticipation of the sweltering conditions. Notably, Gaudu fell into the top 10 overall in last year’s race after suffering heat stroke in the Pyrenees and losing more than 20 minutes to the favourites.

The Groupama-FDJ climber entered the race dreaming of a podium and a stage victory, and thinks his pre-race ambitions are compatible.

“I want to cross the Tour de France line with my arms raised, like any rider, and I think it’s possible,” he said.

“I have already won races on the pedal [through pure strength], in front of the best runners, whether against Pogačar, Vingaard or the Ineos arsenal. I believe in the principle that every driver is beatable one day and it’s about waiting for the right moment for yourself.

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