Bardet forced to change 2017 race programme

Reduction of La Mediterraneenne means Frenchman will head to Tour of Oman

Romain Bardet has been forced to alter his 2017 programme after the reduction in length of La Méditérannéene race in February.

The Frenchman, who was runner-up at last year’s Tour de France, was set to open his campaign on home soil, but a shortfall in available police officers meant the race was cut from four days to two.

Keen to rack up the race kilometres, Bardet will instead delay his planned start by three days, heading on February 14 to the six-day Tour of Oman, where he finished runner-up last year. That will extend his stay in the Middle East as the Abu Dhabi Tour, beginning four days after the culmination of Oman, was always part of his schedule.

"With only two days and a time trial in La Méditeraneenne, it’s a better option for me to resume in Oman,” said Bardet. “At this point of the season, the kilometres are important.”

After his impressive Tour de France, July is once again Bardet’s number one goal for the 2017 season and, after winding the legs back up in the warmer climes, his preparations will become serious in March when he returns to Europe for Paris-Nice.

His following race will be the tough Vuelta al País Vasco in early April, and he could well use the time in between to go away and train at altitude, as is his wont. He will drop in for Liège-Bastogne-Liège in late April before pitting himself against the world’s best stage racers once again at the Tour de Romandie.

Another block of altitude training, probably at Sierra Nevada, is likely to follow, before he heads to the Critérium du Dauphiné as the final stop before the Tour.

Last year Bardet did Oman, Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya, Giro del Trentino, Liège, Romandie, and Dauphiné, which - with a sprinkling of French one-day races and the French national championships thrown in - gave a total of 44 pre-Tour race days.

This year the structure remains largely the same, with six stage races forming the bulk of his build-up, giving a probable 40 pre-Tour race days, assuming the small French one-days are off the agenda this time.

Roman Bardet's schedule, as confirmed by the AG2R-La Mondiale team:

Tour of Oman (Feb 14th-19th)
Abu Dhabi Tour (Feb 23rd-26th)
Paris-Nice (March 5th-12th)
Vuelta al País Vasco (April 3rd-8thl)
Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 23rd)
Tour de Romandie (April 25th- 30th) 

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