Bardet begins training block in lead-up to Tour de France

Romain Bardet's road to the Tour de France begins this week, with the French public's big hope for La Grande Boucle set to do a reconnaissance of the Tour's key Pyrenean mountain stages, followed by his annual training camp in Spain's Sierra Nevada mountains with a number of his AG2R La Mondiale teammates next week.

According to L'Equipe, Bardet spent an entire week off the bike following Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which signalled the end of his spring campaign, but then returned to training this week, which included scouting out the last 30 kilometres of stage 9 of this year's Tour, which finishes in his hometown of Brioude in the Haute-Loire, south of Clermont-Ferrand.

Keeping with the family theme, Bardet was then headed to recon some of this year's Tour stages in the Pyrenees with his father, before moving on to the Sierra Nevada mountains in southern Spain for a high-altitude training camp, as he's done every year since 2014.

Set to join him there, according to L'Equipe, are Benoît Cosnefroy, Alexandre Geniez, Mikaël Chérel, Classics stars Oliver Naesen and Silvan Dillier, and the 2018 Tour's best young rider, Pierre Latour, giving more than a small hint as to the riders likely to feature in the team's eight-rider squad for July.

"I needed a rest, and I now feel refreshed," Bardet told the French sports newspaper. "I have five weeks before my next race" – the Critérium du Dauphiné – "and so I've got a big block of training ahead of me, but I love this period.

"The real season starts here for me, and, from now on, every day is about working to arrive at the Tour de France in the best possible condition," he said.

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