Critérium du Dauphiné: Pinot heads Groupama-FDJ challenge without Gaudu

Groupama-FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot
Groupama-FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Groupama-FDJ will be led at the upcoming Critérium du Dauphiné by Tour de France contender Thibaut Pinot, although key lieutenant David Gaudu will miss the Tour de France preparation race due to digestive problems, the team reports.

"We're going to have a very solid team, which will allow us to continue the good work done last week on the roads of the south of France [at the Route d'Occitanie]," said sports director Philippe Mauduit in a post on social media on Monday.

"The only downside is the loss of David Gaudu, who's had preparation for the Tour slowed down by some digestive problems," he said.

Gaudu is also set to ride this year's rescheduled Vuelta a España, in a team leader's role, in October, but will be eager to recover from illness in order to take to the start line of the Tour de France alongside Pinot in Nice on August 29.

Pinot finished fourth overall at last week's Route d'Occitanie, just 37 seconds off the pace of winner Egan Bernal, with the 2019 Tour de France champion beating Team Ineos teammate Pavel Sivakov by 19 seconds, with Astana's Aleksandr Vlasov rounding out the podium a further four seconds back.

It was Pinot's first race back since the closedown of professional cycling due to the coronavirus pandemic, but, as directeur sportif Mauduit pointed out, it gave some encouraging signs as to the Frenchman's burgeoning form ahead of both the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de France.

"I'm focusing the taking the races one by one," Pinot said in a social media post on Monday. "The Dauphiné is one of the biggest races of the season, and so I'm of course hoping to perform strongly there."

The 30-year-old was forced to abandon last year's Tour de France due to a thigh injury, just two days before the finish in Paris while lying in fifth place overall, 1:50 down on then race leader and compatriot Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), but just 20 seconds behind eventual race winner Bernal.

Pinot will again go up against Bernal and Team Ineos teammates Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome – the 2018 Tour champion and four-time Tour winner, respectively – as well as Jumbo-Visma trio Steven Kruijswijk, Tom Dumoulin and Primoz Roglic at this week's Dauphiné, which gets under way in Clermont Ferrand on Wednesday, and runs until Sunday (August 12-16).

Groupama-FDJ for the 2020 Critérium du Dauphiné: Bruno Armirail, Antoine Duchesne, Stefan Küng, Matthieu Ladagnous, Valentin Madouas, Thibaut Pinot, Sébastien Reichenbach

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