At the Tour du Finistère on Saturday, Warren Barguil took to the start of a non-WorldTour race in his homeland of Brittany for the first time since he turned pro with Argos-Shimano in 2013. As he broke his contract with Sunweb to join Fortuneo-Samsic last year, he insisted that one reason was to race in front of his home fans, although this event is mostly part of his preparation for the Ardennes Classics and the Tour de France.
"I'm just happy to race at home again," Barguil told Cyclingnews at the start of the Tour du Finistère in Quimper. "Here I was third of the Trophée Sebago as a junior. It's cool to be back. I know the roads around here. I recon'd the course also, with stage 5 of the Tour de France in mind. The route is similar to a classic in the Ardennes."
Barguil had a setback in his early part of the season with Fortuneo-Samsic. He had higher ambitions in Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya than his eventual 17th and 15th placings.
"I was aiming at the top 10 in both races, even though my goals for this year aren't in March," noted the Frenchman, who will target mountain stages at the Tour de France and, later in the season, the World Championships road race in Innsbrück.
"I felt that something was wrong in my body so I underwent a medical examination between Paris-Nice and Catalunya," he explained. "I had a bacteria in my stomach. It didn't prevent me from performing [8th in the last stage of the Volta Catalunya] but I had to treat the problem with antibiotics and I took a rest for four days in Corsica. I'm hoping for better feelings and results in the Ardennes classics."
Known as a climber in the Grand Tours, Barguil has also made top 10 at La Flèche Wallonne [9th in 2016, 6th in 2017] and Liège-Bastogne-Liège [6th in 2016].
"I actually love the one-day races more," he said. "Jostling for position and feeling the right moment for making a move excites me more than calculating gains and losses in the Grand Tours. I believe that I have more chances to win a big classic than a stage race."
Questioned on whether he's worried about the absence of victory at Fortuneo-Samsic or not, the 26-year-old noted that his former team Sunweb had only one more win (stage 3 of the Abu Dhabi Tour by Phil Bauhaus). He also denied having a weaker team at his service as he's now part of the second division.
"During Paris-Nice, I was a bit off the back together with Sam Oomen [Sunweb's leader for that race] in one climb," he recalled. "We had to pull to make it across to the main group. I had four teammates to help me while Sam had nobody left. At Fortuneo-Samsic, we don't have as many potential leaders like Tom Dumoulin, Michael Matthews and Oomen at Sunweb, but when I'll be in a situation to win, I'll have guys like Amaël Moinard, Elie Gesbert and Laurent Pichon to accompany me till the finale."