Romain Bardet will start the season two weeks earlier than originally planned as he lines up on home soil at the GP La Marseillaise on January 28. AG2R La Mondiale had previously put Bardet down to begin his 2018 campaign on February 11 at the Trofeo Laigueglia, but he was eager to get back into racing action as soon as possible.
“My winter preparation is going very well, so I really want to pin on a bib number along with my teammates for the opening of the French racing season,” Bardet said in a team press release. “I like the GP La Marseillaise; I know what to expect, mostly, and the course will be more selective than in the past. I am keen to start the racing season in France, at an event that all the French teams are eager to test and show themselves. I cannot wait to kick off the season racing in our new jersey.”
The GP Marseillaise, which was won by Arthur Vichot last season, is the first race on the French calendar. Putting the French race back on his programme is a return to a traditional schedule for Bardet. He had made his season debut there every year since he turned professional in 2012, but missed it last year and began at the Tour of Oman. His best finish at the GP Marseillaise is 10th place in 2014.
The Trofeo Laigueglia has been completely scratched from Bardet’s calendar, with the five-day Ruta del Sol (February 14-18) the second event on his programme. After the Ruta del Sol, Bardet will head to the Ardèche Classic on February 24 and Strade Bianche on March 3, which he is using as preparation for the opening week of the Tour de France. He will then eschew Paris-Nice for the first time since 2012 and make his debut at Tirreno-Adriatico, which begins on March 7.
His main ambition will once again be the Tour de France, where he finished third last season and took a career-best second place in 2016.
Much of the AG2R La Mondiale team are currently in Castellon, Spain for their first training camp of the season.