Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) mixed it up with some of the most experienced riders in the peloton to secure his best finish yet at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The 24-year-old Frenchman was ever present on the front of the small bunch in the finale, cresting the climb to Ans with just 10 other riders. Bardet was visibly struggling in the sprint but battled home to take sixth, however, he had hoped for more.
"Sixth is a good result but we hoped for a podium and with 30 metres to go I still hoped for the podium but the legs cried and I couldn’t do much in the sprint," Bardet told Cyclingnews as he warmed down by the team bus. "It was an offensive final and I’m pretty happy for my first classic of the year. I’m increasing year after year and it’s good each year to have a good result here. So after all I’m happy with how the race went and with the result today."
Bardet told Cyclingnews earlier in the week that he was going to employ an aggressive approach to the race. He did just that moving to the fore with just over 20 kilometres to go. He twice tried to shake his peloton companions but on each occasion he was brought back in, with no real assistance in either move.
"We did a first move on Roche-aux-Faucons with Alaphilippe to try and join Kreuziger and the guys on the front but the other teams didn’t want to collaborate with us," he explained. "Then on the rainy final, I hoped to go alone to Ans but there was still three Katusha riders and it was hard to escape. On a finish like this, I’m not as explosive as riders like Valverde."
Liège-Bastogne-Liège was Bardet’s second big goal of the season after the Volta a Catalunya, where a crash early in the race put an end to his overall ambitions. Following La Doyenne, he will follow much of the peloton to the Tour de Romandie, which begins on Tuesday, and his result sends him into the race with confidence.
"I’m on the rollers right now with the head already in Romandie," said Bardet. "I was not happy with the start of the season. I wanted to perform at the start of the season, but I crashed. Then I went to a training camp to focus on my main objective of Liège so it’s good to finally have a good result."