After a season in which he claimed his first Tour de France stage win, Romain Bardet is ready to start 2016 at the GP La Marseillaise with his AG2R-La Mondiale team eyeing off Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the Tour and August's Rio Olympic Games road race as his season objectives.
"I hope I will continue to progress in the suitable races like Liege-Bastogne-Liege or mountain stage races," Bardet said of his season ambitions. "I love 2016 Tour de France, that will cross Massif Central and Auvergne, my region of origin. Of course, I will have real ambitions in the Olympics. I finished 3rd in the test-event last year. The course is very interesting and Olympics are a special moment in the career of a rider."
First though Bardet will pin a race number on for Sunday's GP La Marseillaise where he will ride in support of his teammates as he explained.
"I look forward to that race. The first competition of a season is always a special moment. I am used to participate to GP La Marseillaise. I have no personal ambition but the team is strong and I hope I could help my teammates," he said.
Bardet's off-season saw the 24-year-old complete his studies and embark on several off-bike activities and is now ready to start his season in earnest with is last race the Saitama Criterium in October.
"Wintertime went well. I stopped training after Saitama Criterium (Japan). I rested and prepared my oral exams and my diploma thesis," he said. "I kept fit doing other sports. I resumed training on November 15th. With team training camp in Oisans (France) and Spain and my personal training, time flied. I have now a place in South of France that is ideal to train. I am very satisfied with the individual and collective work of the last weeks and with my form."
2015 saw Bardet win stage 17 of the Tour as he finished ninth overall, claim a stage and finish sixth overall at the of the Critérium du Dauphiné and finish sixth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège along with several other top-ten results. This season Bardet is aiming to continue his upward trajectory and believes several adjustments over the winer will benefit his ambitions.
"I carried on with my progression. With highlights such as the stage victories in Tour de France or Criterium du Dauphiné," he said of last season. "There has been such harder times too. I analyzed that with the staff and I am very optimistic. AG2R La Mondiale Pro Cycling Team staff and method structured itself during the last months. We are going to benefit from these evolutions."
AG2R-La Mondiale for the GP de la Marseillaise (January 31): Romain Bardet, Julien Bérard, Mikael Cherel, Nico Denz, Samuel Dumoulin, Hubert Dupont, Ben Gastauer and Hugo Houle.