Romain Bardet, currently sitting fifth on GC at the Giro del Trentino, is aiming to continue his progression at Liège-Bastogne-Liège having improved his result year on year since his 2013 debut at the Belgian monument. The AG2R-La Mondiale rider will be joined by Trentino teammates Jean-Christophe Peraud and Domenico Pozzovivo with the trio heading north to the race for a recon on Saturday.
"Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a race I love since my first participation in 2013. I always finished top 15 (13th in 2013, 10th in 2014, 6th in 2015). It’s a race which suits me perfectly. Now, I want to take a step forward," said Bardet who has finished top-ten in five of the six races he's started in 2016.
"The decision is made in a few seconds in the key points of the race. I love this race. I dreamt of it when I was a kid. It’s a "monument" of cycling and the classic I can ride with real ambitions. I love the atmosphere, the enthusiasm of the crowd. I really hope to perform well this year."
Bardet was active in the closing stages of last year's race, won by Movistar's Alejandro Valverde, and expects to again "play a role in the final."
While AG2R-La Mondiale will be missing Alexis Vuillermoz after the Frenchman crashed out of Amstel Gold Race and suffered a cranial trauma, Pozzovivo is another ace in the deck for the team. The Italian has ridden the race just twice in his career, finishing fifth on his debut in 2014 and then eighth last year. Having finished seventh at the Tour Down Under and then eighth overall at the Tour of Oman, Pozzovivo has been building his form again in time for the Giro d'Italia where he will wear the number one dossard.
Jan Bakelants, AG2R's best finisher at Amstel Gold Race and 22nd at Fleche Wallonne, adds further depth to the Liege squad which is completed by Mickaël Chérel, Ben Gastauer and Sebastien Minard.
AG2R-La Mondiale for Liege - Bastogne - Liege: Romain Bardet, Jan Bakelants, Mickaël Chérel, Ben Gastauer, Sebastien Minard, Jean-Christophe Peraud and Domenico Pozzovivo.