David Gaudu and his best chance yet at the Tour de France podium

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David Gaudu reignited French hopes in Paris-Nice last week in a breakout week of bombastic climbing.

The young French ace delivered the ride of his life on the streets of Nice as he defeated Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard and proved to be one of the few who could live with Tadej Pogačar.

“We have no regrets,” Gaudu said on Sunday. “This is a great result. It’s not every day that you get the chance to climb onto the podium at Paris-Nice or a WorldTour stage race. We would have signed for this result at the start.”

Second overall in the Race to the Sun brings Gaudu closer to France’s first podium finish in the Tour de France since Romain Bardet took the second step in 2016.

“I think I passed a test this week,” Gaudu said L’Equipe. “I’ve balanced the mental toughness I gained on the Tour last year with my 2021 physique.”

Also read: Gaudu arrives well at the 2022 Tour de France

Gaudu hovered on the edge of the winner’s circle for a long time.

Fourth overall at last year’s Tour de France, Groupama-FDJ’s newest team talisman came together after years of celebratory stage wins but less happier days. In fact, second place in Paris-Nice last week was Gaudu’s first podium in a WorldTour stage race since 2019, a statistic that might surprise for one of the best pure climbers in the field.

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Now with teammate and longtime French heartthrob Pinot on the way to retirement, Gaudu has open roads and full Groupama-FDJ climbing support on the way up.

“We have to keep working, there is no other choice,” said sporting director Philippe Mauduit on Sunday. “David was over 13 minutes from the top of the Tour last year, today he’s a minute behind ‘Pogi’. It’s come a long way, but that’s not all.”

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“The best of the rest”?

Gaudu saw an elitist society on the podium at Paris-Nice. (Photo: CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Gaudu is a dead certificate for this year’s Tour de France, which could be the best chance of his career so far for the Paris podium.

A lack of TT kilometers on a course packed with explosive hilly stages and grueling summit finishes means the ASO Gaudu 2023 offers its perfect playground Grand Boucle.

If Vingegaard and Pogačar prove themselves again in another dimension this summer, this winter Gaudu has made his claim as the future ‘Best of the Tour de France rest’.

Richard Carapaz still hasn’t made his pro debut, Egan Bernal has missed races for weeks, Enric Mas has been good but not great and Ineos Grenadiers looks set to send its best riders to the Giro d’Italia.

And the Frenchman Bardet? The DSM captain seemed stuck in goal so far in 2023.

Two top fours at the French Faun Classics and more than 40 seconds ahead of Vingegaard in Nice sees Gaudu riding into spring with a tailwind and the burden of his home nation’s hopes on his shoulders.

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“We know we won’t easily beat Pogacar or Vingegaard, but if we get closer we give each other chances,” said Groupama FDJ team boss Marc Madiot on Sunday. “I’m not saying we’re going to win the Tour, but we want to be there everywhere, in the best races.”

No more waiting Gaudu.

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