Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) will begin his 2017 campaign on home soil at the La Méditerranéenne at the start of February, the team has confirmed. It will be Bardet's first appearance at the five-day race, which begins on February 8, since 2012.
Following his French start, Bardet will then head out to the Middle East for the Abu Dhabi Tour, which begins on the 23rd of February. A Middle Eastern sojourn has become a regular feature of Bardet's calendar but this is his first visit to Abu Dhabi for the newly promoted WorldTour race.
Earlier reports on the francetvsport.fr website, had stated that Bardet would in fact be making his season debut slightly later in February at the two-day Tour du Haut Var followed by the Tour Provence.
However the main focus of Bardet's season is not up for debate with the team publishing his key preparation races in the build-up to the Tour de France. Paris-Nice will be the first part of that block, after his visit to Abu Dhabi, at the beginning of March. That will be followed by the Vuelta a Pais Vasco, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the Tour de Romandie, the Criterium du Dauphine and the Tour de France.
Bardet finished second to Chris Froome at the 2016 Tour de France following a big attack to win the penultimate mountain stage to Mont Blanc. Bardet had talked about an attempt on the Giro d'Italia in 2017 but sponsor obligations and his key role as team leader in the French squad forced Bardet to again focus on the Tour de France.
Romain Bardet's early-season racing programme
- La Méditerranéenne - February 8-12
- Abu Dhabi Tour - February 23-26
- Paris-Nice - March 5-12