Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) is never one to hold back when he sees an opportunity. The Frenchman loves to go on the attack, and he was one of the few GC contenders to have a go on the Grand Colombier on stage 15 of the Tour de France.
The move came to nothing but it Bardet saw it as anything but fruitless endeavour. He was able to close in on his ambition of making the top five, by jumping Tejay van Garderen into sixth place, less than a minute off the next best rider Alejandro Valverde. Added to that, the reaction he got from his own body gives him the knowledge that he can try again in the final days.
"Since the start of the Tour de France, I have been riding a bit against myself, waiting for my time. I still expect today even though I hope I have spelt the beginning of the revival. The plan was to be at the top for the third week. For the moment all the lights are green," Bardet told the large scrum of reporters that had surrounded him from all sides, keen to hear what he had to say.
There were some that tried to get away but never made it too far while most seemed happy to march to the beat of the Team Sky drum. Bardet's move towards the top of the second Colombier ascent was the most threatening looking but he found himself ploughing a lonely furrow, and he too would be reeled back in by the metronomic pace set by the team of the race leader.
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"I tried because these are the roads I know well, roads that I love. I thought there might already be some differences. But the idea was not to go alone, because there was in the valley up to the finish and to face a group with three Sky riders it was not a good option. So when I left, I was hoping for reinforcements behind. It has not come so I have not really emphasised. Valverde was with Quintana behind. Movistar has a clear tactic for the third week, and they don't really want to discover anything beforehand."
Bardet rode an aggressive descent too, but it wasn't enough to dislodge any of the main contenders. He refused to criticise the others for not following his attack and reiterated his position that his had in fact been a very good day for him mentally, even if the result didn't show it.
"I think it's tactical; I do not cast stones at opponents," he said. "For me, it's an area that I like, with a good winding descent, a climb where I had a real good feeling. It's always good for the head and for reassurance."
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