As one of France's leading Grand Tour contenders, the pressure will once again be on Romain Bardet at next year's Tour de France. The route of the 2016 Tour de France might not immediately jump out as one that would suit Bardet but the Frenchman had a smile on his face after it was revealed in Tuesday's ceremony in Paris. The course, which sees the mountains tackled early in the first week, should play into his hands.
"It is good for me. The harder it is the better it suits me and I really like this route and I hope to do something good again," Bardet told Cyclingnews following the event.
"After only a few days, we will have the first tough mountain stage in Le Lioran. It will be a tough three weeks and we will have a lot of stages that will be very hard. And then you have to join the Pyrenees to the Alps, where we will take the road to Mont Ventoux, which will be very hard."
There were high expectations of Bardet in the 2015 Tour de France after he finished sixth in the previous season. Following a difficult first week, his general classification ambitions had taken a big hit. A fight back in the latter stages saw him win one and move back up the GC to claim ninth. Next year's challenging course, which will pass through his home region of Auvergne on stage 5, should suit his aggressive style of racing as he looks to turn his mixed fortunes around in the general classification.
"There are some big climbs and then at the beginning we will be in my home country in Auvergne, so I'm really happy with that," he said. "I think that we will see a really aggressive race, the first climbs come really soon in the race. We don't really know some of the roads so we will have to recon those. For sure it will be hard and it will also be a good show for the climbers."
After a dearth of it this season, the 2016 Tour de France will see 54 kilometres of individual time trialling, split over two stages. Normally this would prove to be a serious hurdle for Bardet, who has never counted time trialling among his strengths on the bike. However, with both being fairly technical and the second of the two an uphill test, Bardet is looking forward to taking them on.
"It's not typical time trialling, the last one is in the mountains but the first one is also very technical. There are some downhills and I know the roads there very well and they are not flat so it could be fun for me also," said Bardet.
The Tour de France 2016 will begin at the foot of Mont-Saint-Michel in the Lower Normandy department of Manche on Saturday, July 2.
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Born in Ireland to a cycling family and later moved to the Isle of Man, so there was no surprise when I got into the sport. Studied sports journalism at university before going on to do a Masters in sports broadcast. After university I spent three months interning at Eurosport, where I covered the Tour de France. In 2012 I started at Procycling Magazine, before becoming the deputy editor of Procycling Week. I then joined Cyclingnews, in December 2013.
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