Bardet makes successful return to competition at Paris-Camembert

Frenchman comes back from injury to finish race won by AG2R teammate Cosnefroy

Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) returned to competition at the Paris-Camembert one-day French Cup race in northern France on Tuesday, having been injured in a crash on the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya in late March.

The French Tour de France hopeful hurt his ribs in the 70kph downhill crash but escaped without any fractures, and was able to train in the build-up to Tuesday's Paris-Camembert, which was won by AG2R teammate Benoît Cosnefroy after he attacked from a breakaway group in the final kilometre.

"I'm back racing on my original programme with Paris-Camembert," Bardet said on his team's website.

"I realise now how lucky I was with my Volta a Catalunya crash. It was a really violent impact, but I came away without any serious damage – and, most importantly, without any fractures.

"The first few days afterwards were very painful," he admitted, "but I was able to get back to training quite quickly. The whole thing was not too damaging, even if immediately after it happened it felt like it could have been pretty complicated."

Bardet comfortably finished the 182km race in 42nd place – despite experiencing some mechanical problems, according to L'Equipe – just over a minute down on teammate Cosnefroy.

"Doing Paris-Camembert was all about putting me back in the rhythm of racing, with the three important races in the Ardennes" – Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège – "coming up," he said.

Cosnefroy's win was only the second professional victory for the 23-year-old, who also won the Grand Prix d'Isbergues in 2017. The Frenchman got away as part of a group of nine riders after 80km, which included AG2R teammate Quentin Jauregui, and then attacked with a kilometre to go to win solo, three seconds ahead of Cofidis' Pierre-Luc Périchon, with Jauregui taking third.

"I knew that Quentin was going well, but I had super legs," Cosnefroy told L'Equipe.

"So I asked Quentin if I could attack, and he said, 'Yes – do it, as I'll be ready for the sprint.' So I went for it, attacking with a kilometre left to race, and nobody could follow me. It's crazy," he said.

Despite its name, Paris-Camembert starts in Magnanville, close to Paris, and finishes in Vimoutiers, in Normandy – just a couple of hours away from Cosnefroy's hometown of Cherbourg, which meant that a number of friends and members of his family were able to come to watch.

"I even had time to celebrate the win before the line, which doesn't happen too often. It's the best win of my career so far," added Cosnefroy, who's been a pro since 2017.

"It's amazing to be able to win so close to home. All the way along the route, people were shouting, 'Allez Beubeu!' and I saw loads of people I knew from school. It's just been the perfect day for me."

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