Warren Barguil's 2016 season has started with two of the hardest one-week WorldTour races on the calendar at Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco after the Giant-Alpecin rider was forced to postpone the start of the season due to injuries sustained in a January training ride accident in Calpe.
Barguil was one of six Giant-Alpecin riders involved in the crash with 24-year-old suffering a fractured scaphoid. The Frenchman finished 22nd overall at Volta Ciclista a Catalunya in a stacked field of GC contenders before heading to the Basque country, finishing stage 1 in eighth place.
While Samuel Sanchez was dive bombing his way down the descent into Orio for his first win in BMC colours, Barguil was following closely behind in a chase group that included the likes of Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and new race leader Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo).
"I am a very satisfied with my result today," Barguil said in a team statement having finished in third place which saw him rise to 14th on GC with two stages to come.
"The stage started very quickly today and we were only a few at the top of the Jaizkibel climb. I felt good after the team had well supported me on the ascent with Simon [Geschke], Sam [Oomen] and Fredrik [Ludvigsson] put me in a good position before the penultimate climb."
With the peloton making two ascents of the Alto de Aia in the final, stage 4 was another day for the GC men after a hard day of climbing. On the first ascent of the Aia, Barguil tried a move that was closed down and then found himself out of position for the second time up the climb as he explained.
"I managed to control my effort and I was waiting for the climb with 2km to the finish," he said. "However I started from too far back and I didn't follow the wheel of Sanchez. I did a sprint of 300 meters and I just gave everything I had. In the end, Rui Costa passed me on the line as I finished 3rd."
Barguil won two stages of the 2013 Vuelta a Espana in his first year as a professional but is to reach the top step of the podium since. Despite the delay to his season debut, Barguil explained that he currently satisfied with his progression and it is only a matter of time before he's back to winning ways.
"I am quite satisfied with my level at the moment, I am getting closer to my level I had in 2014 and that's important for me because I had a difficult year last year," he added.
After Pais Vasco, Barguil will head to the Ardennes where he wants "to be at 100 per cent. That's my big goal for now."