Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) says that he will not put a number on his ambitions at this year’s Tour de France. Always one for deeper thinking, despite finishing second in the 2016 race behind Chris Froome (Team Sky), Bardet says that his aim is fulfilment, whatever the result may be.
“I do not focus on the Tour de France,” Bardet said, according to L’Équipe, at the team’s presentation in Paris on Tuesday. “I am in a process of fulfilment, to achieve the fullness of my capabilities whether in physical terms or experience in the race. The goal is, of course, to get better results on the races, but I see things more generally, I try to be better in what I do on a daily basis.”
Over the winter, Bardet had hinted at a ride in the Giro d’Italia, but that musing was soon quashed. As a French rider on a French team and considering his performance last year, it would have been hard for Bardet not to make the national race the crux of his season. Bardet says that he is as driven as ever for the 2017 and while he might have wavered in his programme choice, he is not ready to move away from the Grand Boucle.
“It is the race that gives us the greatest emotions," he said. "I still have a lot of appetite, and lots of things to do. It is not yet time to move on to another program.”
Bardet turned professional in 2012 and has since grown to be one of the top climbers in the peloton. There will be a lot of attention on the 26-year-old Bardet, particularly in his home country following last year. His aggressive style has delivered him some great results, and although he makes no plans on altering that he says that he wants to ensure he is in the mix much more.
“I will try to be more precise, and sharper on my objectives, less in the wait-and-see as I was in the past, when I was satisfied with a top five, sometimes a top 10,” he explained. “I must try to be more decisive in the key moments in the big races. Have more serenity, try to play on equal terms and sometimes take our responsibilities while remaining humble, because cycling is the school of humility. I want to put myself more in danger to try to win a big race.”
Bardet will begin his season at the Tour of Oman after having to make some late changes to his calendar after the French La Méditérannéene fell by the wayside.
Emboldened by Bardet’s results, his AG2R La Mondiale team has put a lot of effort in over the winter to ensure that he has a strong enough team to deliver him to the big results they hope for in 2017. In addition to established team riders Alexis Vuillermoz and Mikael Cherel, team manager Vincent Lavenu has added Matthias Frank and Alexandre Geniez to the climbing corp. For the flatter terrain, workhorse Stijn Vandenbergh has joined the fold along with Oliver Naesen.
Lavenu explained that it was necessary to shake things up to maintain the growth of recent times. “It was necessary to change because we must not be blinded by the excellent results of the Dauphiné and the Tour,” said Lavenu. “It was time to bring dynamism, to support Romain on major events and win races.
“Romain is young, talented, intelligent, ambitious, driven and a perfectionist. He pushes everyone around him, from fellow riders to support staff, and forces them to examine our best efforts.”