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Bardet wins Tour of the Alps with aggressive strategy

LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Romain Bardet of France and Team DSM final overall race winner celebrates with his teammate Thymen Arensman of Netherlands and Team DSM White Best Young Rider Jersey after the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Romain Bardet celebrates his Tour of the Alps win with Team DSM teammate Thymen Arensman (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Romain Bardet hugged Thymen Arensman beyond the finish line at the Tour of the Alps, celebrating with his young Team DSM teammate and thanking him for helping to distance Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) over the final climb and then the ride to victory in Lienz.  

Bardet started stage 5 of the Tour of the Alps two seconds down on the Bahrain Victorious rider but managed to distance him on the steep Stonach climb and then time trialed to victory with Arensman and Michael Storer (Groupama-FDJ), who also worked hard to move up to second overall at 14 seconds. Arensman moved up to third overall at 16 seconds, with Bilbao slipping to fourth at 37 seconds.    

Bardet could have tried to keep the race together and move past Bilbao by winning the final stage and taking a bigger time bonus. He preferred a more aggressive and more decisive strategy.  

“We tried to focus on the GC battle and made sure nobody put us in trouble in the break, then we just had to focus on the last climb and open a gap on Pello Bilbao,” Bardet explained, his strategy far more difficult to execute than to elaborate.  

“It would have been hard in the sprint so we wanted to gain time. It worked out better than expected. I had Arensman with me and so we were even able to extend the gap. It worked out pretty well in the end. It’s a nice win.”

Overall victory and third place gave Team DSM a haul of UCI points to help in the relegation battle for the WorldTour and also a show of pride.  

Bardet joined Team DSM last year, looking for a change after years at AG2R. A number of other riders have struggled to fit in with the team’s way of working but Bardet seems happier than ever.  

“For sure changing teams has helped me a lot, it’s been very beneficial,’ he explained. “I’ve worked in different ways, racing less and training more, so perhaps I’m fresher. I’m glad I don’t feel as much pressure as before. We race with attainable objectives and that is good.”

Bardet dismissed criticism or doubts about Team DSM’s way of working.

“We don’t feel pressure. We focus on ourselves, doing our training and everything else right. We prepared for this race to go for stage results rather than the GC, that’s why I got into the mix in the sprints. I ended up close to Bilbao, then day after day I felt better. But we only shifted today to go for GC and then we went for it.”

French spotlight

Bardet has Tour de France podiums results on his palmares and won a stage at the 2021 Vuelta a España but has not won a stage race since the 2013 Tour de L’Ain.

With Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) winning stage 5 after a thousand-day absence for any race wins, it was a great day for French cycling.

Bardet and Pinot are very different in character but similar in their abilities and race results. As they crossed paths near the Tour of Alps podium, they swapped smiles and congratulations. The now-veteran French generation can still show their ability.

“It’s a good day for French cycling,” Bardet said.

“I know Thibaut really well, we grew up together at races, we were both juniors in the French national team and have fought at the Tour de France many times.  

“There’s a strong new generation of French riders coming up but I don’t think we’ve lost our ability to still light for Grand Tour stage and Grand Tour podiums. Our joint success today is a good sign for the rest of the season.”

Bardet also had praise for 22-year-old Arensman, who played such an important role in his victory and also pulled on the best young rider’s white jersey.

“He’s a superb good guy and a good friend now. I think I’ve spent more time with him than anyone else in recent months, including my wife,” Bardet joked.

“He’s one of the biggest talents I’ve ever seen in the sport. He’s got a big engine and is a nice guy.

“We need to keep the pressure off him because he’s super young, but he can do super nice things in the future, including taking big, big wins. He has the mindset to be a next great champion.”

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Stephen Farrand

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.