“You can write it in your journal, I tell you that David will win one of the big three rounds, but I can’t tell you which one. ” Trainer of David Gaudu aged 16 to 20 at UC Briochine, a club in Saint-Brieuc, Denis Le Cam still often receives a visit from his foal who comes to ride in winter under the shelter of his scooter, to breathe the air. of inland Brittany and drink from his advice that is as benevolent as it is demanding.
→ READ. Cycling, David Gaudu comes out of the shadow of Thibaut Pinot
“He’s not going to do keké with me, I know him, he’s a well-behaved kid”, says the one who saw this son of an amateur runner arrive in his club in 2013. Gaudu father, a tiler by trade, had detected extraordinary aptitudes in his son despite being a “mosquito”, a nickname that has long accompanied him in the peloton.
The mosquito has gained muscle
Since then, the mosquito has gained muscle and has been inducted king of the hive Groupama-FDJ, replacing a Thibaut Pinot eager to take the field with the status of team leader and take a break with the Tour de France , which he will not compete in this year (1). “David is a boss, a bit like Hinault. He will have no difficulty in asking his guys to ride for him, we will see him this season, now that he has the field free ”, continues the coach who would have seen his pupil stand on his own feet earlier. “ Guys like Tao Geoghegan Hart (winner of the Giro d’Italia 2020) or Egan Bernal (Tour de France 2019), he beat them all in the youth categories, so I think it’s his turn now. “
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He does not add the word “finally”, but the heart is there. In fact, his protégé does not yet have the prize list that exceptional physiological dispositions seemed to promise him. Winner of the Tour de l’Avenir, the antechamber of glory, in 2016 – one year before Egan Bernal and two before Tadej Pogacar, both in yellow since on the Champs-Élysées – David Gaudu is still far from the mark. His record comes down to two stage victories in the high mountains during the last Tour of Spain. Starting off with the leader’s bib of his training, with a convalescent luxury team-mate Thibaut Pinot at his side after his fall in the Tour de France, he finished a flattering but undoubtedly insufficient eighth place overall in the Vuelta.
“I don’t know if he can win a grand tour”
The performance leaves Gilles Comte, boss of the monthly Bicycle magazine, Doubtful about Denis Le Cam’s prediction concerning the big towers. “Les Vélo d’Or, our annual jury, ranked David Gaudu fourth among the French for 2020, behind Julian Alaphilippe, Arnaud Démare and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot. This is its place, he explains. He had a great end to the season, especially with his two stage victories in the Tour of Spain. He is a huge climber, old-fashioned, Contador or Virenque style, he can make big differences in the passes where the big laps are partly played out, but he lacks the power in the time trials where we have to finish what we started in the mountains. “
This diagnosis could disqualify the Breton for the final victory on a Tour de France 2021, rather flat, and whose penultimate stage will be a simply hilly time trial. The manager of the Groupama-FDJ team, Marc Madiot, was not mistaken, imagining a co-direction for the Tour: David Gaudu, in tandem with the house sprinter Arnaud Démarre, as in Paris-Nice which starts this Saturday 6th March.
The person concerned knows he is expected on the demanding heights of the Bay of Angels where only the greatest have won. “ Winning Paris-Nice is perhaps a little too much, let’s say that a good stage victory and a good general classification would already be not bad ”, was he slipping Monday 1er March at the Eurosport microphone. Marc Madiot abounds: “We don’t have the team to win Paris-Nice. He will already have to learn his job as a leader in the flat phases, with the risk of edging in the wind at the start of the race. There is also a time trial to negotiate and this is its weak point. Then we’ll see and I don’t think it’s useful to put more pressure on him. “
Paris-Nice, one year after the Covid
With the return of the race of the sun, cycling closes the loop of its first year under the Covid-19. Last year, the last stage, scheduled for March 14, was canceled due to the epidemic, freezing an overall ranking led since day one by the German Maximilian Schachmann. This cancellation was followed by many others, causing numerous postponements of races, including the Tour de France. The end of the 2021 edition, and its two mountain stages, far from the coastal area of the Maritime Alps subject to weekend containment, is not threatened to date.