The exchange is dated January 20, six days ago. A certain “David Gaudu” is chatting on the Discord platform with Internet users about his goals for 2023. Yes, this is the real David Gaudu, the French climber fourth in the last Tour de France. The latter is a fan of video games and regularly chats with his fans. Only here, at the end of the afternoon, the discussion, which he knows is public, nevertheless turns to the settling of accounts and to the big dumpling.
“Me, I don’t want him to come to the Tour de France”, “The war isn’t over (sic) / we’re on a crusade / The advantage is that we don’t talk to each other, and we don’t ride or almost together”. Here is a summary of the remarks made that day by David Gaudu. Each time, he targets the same man: the sprinter Arnaud Démare, his comrade at Groupama-FDJ. Over the messages, we quickly understand that the relations are icy and even deleterious between these two figures of tricolor cycling. And this “since 2017”. The 26-year-old Breton criticizes in particular the presence of the sprinter, five years his senior, at the altitude preparation course this week in the Canary Islands: “He wants his selection for the Tour. But that is not won (…) Let him stay at home. »
The case could not stop there. These spikes have ended up landing in recent hours on Twitter, a much stronger sounding board. Once again, David Gaudu was aware of this risk, as the exchanges show. And on the night of Thursday to Friday, he ended up apologizing to his colleague and his entire team. “The problems that a team may encounter should have remained internal (sic), I apologize to the team and to Arnaud”, he first wrote, relying on the captures of controversy screen. He then split a more solemn declaration on his Twitter account, repeating the same elements.
“They have already been yelled at! »
If Arnaud Démare did not react publicly, he was well aware of the coming storm. Asked by Sud-Ouest, manager Marc Madiot did not go through four ways to tell how he had managed this internal quarrel. “If they’re going to get yelled at?” But they have already been yelled at! swung the Mayenne. “They are not friends, ok. And me, my job is that they work together, that’s all. And they say what they want when they are with their friends, ok, but not on social networks. »
The French team did not need that to start its season. The context is very particular since it is the farewell tour of Thibaut Pinot, who announced his retirement at the end of the year at the beginning of January. This transition phase promises to be even more complicated if the two new leaders are unable to agree on and off the bike. The presence of Netflix cameras, within the team, would have made the climate even heavier, according to the indiscretions of David Gaudu.
Can they coexist on the Tour de France?
In any case, it is still expected that the two men will participate in a certain number of races together. Starting with Paris-Nice (March 5-12), as confirmed by Marc Madiot. But it is obviously the Tour de France which interests the most, as their potential cohabitation requires a collaboration in good intelligence.
David Gaudu is logically aiming for the podium there after his performances last summer. As for Démare, he wants to make his big comeback there after prestigious successes on the Giro (three stage victories in 2022 and the best sprinter’s jersey). There are currently two successes (Vittel 2017 and Pau 2018).
“We will see under what conditions we will present ourselves at the start with the team, had declared Gaudu in October, at the presentation of the route of the next Grande Boucle. I hope it will be in the same way as last summer” In other words, a team 100% dedicated to the general classification and without a window for a sprinter…
Démare does not see it that way. According to him, there is room for both objectives. “My presence will not change much for David (Gaudu), I will be the little bonus,” he said in January, ready to fight without the help of a train around him. Marc Madiot will now do everything so that the “little bonus” does not turn into a big pebble in the shoe.