Welcome signs that he'd returned to form accompanied a performance that kept him within a minute of the overall lead as the race approaches the mountainous terrain, where the Frenchman will feel very much at home.
Gaudu came to the Dauphiné uncertain about how he would fare, having suffered a high-speed crash on a descent during an altitude training camp in Tenerife last month. Although he only sustained cuts and other superficial injuries after hitting a stone in the road when descending at 70km/h, the incident left him unable to train as he had planned.
The ‘jagged feelings’ the climber said he'd had since the start of the Dauphiné meant he still went into the challenging time trial course at Roche-la-Molière not knowing what to expect, but was more optimistic after a powerful start to the 16.4 kilometre race against the clock. He finished in 29th place, 59 seconds behind stage winner Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech).
“I’m satisfied with that. It’s not my favourite discipline, and after the big crash I had on Tenerife I wasn’t really sure what my form was, but I feel like I’m back to where I was,” said Gaudu.
“It’s a shame that I had a few little cramps in the final three kilometres but in the end I’ve managed to produce a good time trial, and that gives me a lot of confidence bearing in mind that my goal is to finish as high as possible here at the Dauphiné. It’s also very reassuring looking ahead to the Tour de France.”
Gaudu described his sensations during the first 13 kilometres of the 16.4 kilometres as being as good as he’d ever experienced.
“It makes me optimistic because this is one of the first times that I’ve felt this strong in a time trial, of having that feeling of being able to push hard and getting the speed that that brings. It gives me real confidence,” he said.
Groupama directeur sportif Yvon Madiot was also pleased with how Gaudu and fellow climber Valentin Madouas performed.
“The end result was good. We’ve limited our losses compared to a lot of other climbers and we’re in just about the position we expected to be in. David did a good time trial, and he was just a few kilometres short of doing an exceptional time trial. I think the time he lost on the training camp affected him there.”
Gaudu is now in 19th place overall, one minute from the overall leader, Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), and 51 seconds back from the leading GC contender, Ion Izagirre (Astana-Premier Tech), with the other rivals scattered both ahead of and behind the 24 year old.
“On to the next stage,” Gaudu said. “We will stay focused on the next two days, then there will be a beautiful and hard weekend.”
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