Romain Bardet is itching to get back to racing after five weeks away and will line up for the Critérium du Dauphiné with big goals after an intensive 16-day altitude training camp in the Sierra Nevada mountains that wrapped up on Saturday. The AG2R La Mondiale rider has been busy building his form for the Tour de France after his sixth place in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
However, his teammate Mikaël Chérel will not be by his side in the Dauphiné, which begins on June 4, after sustaining a hairline fracture to his pelvis on a high-speed training crash last week.
"The training camp in the Sierra Nevada went well except for Mikaël Chérel's hard crash, but I hope to find him riding next to me again very soon," Bardet said. Julian Duval will replace him on the team's roster for the Dauphiné, as the team waits to see how Chérel heals.
Last year, he finished second to Chris Froome in the race before repeating that result in the Tour de France, and has been using the lengthy altitude training camp to tune up for another Tour de France bid.
"In Spain, we rode 1300km and climbed 27,000m. This camp came at an important part of the season, both in terms of the quality of the work that we did and the good atmosphere that prevailed throughout the group of riders," he said.
"The Critérium du Dauphiné is an important race, the last big meeting before the Tour de France. Last year it was a great experience taking second place behind Chris Froome in the overall classification after a tense final. But it was also tinged with regrets on that penultimate stage, where just a few more seconds in that breakaway could have resulted in a more striking performance.
"As with every year, the level of riders at the race will be very high, and the 2017 route is demanding. Every day will be strategic and it will be important not to miss the moves."
"This week will be an ideal time to confirm the team's increase in power and performance ahead of the Tour de France, and achieve significant results."