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Bardet confirmed for first tilt at Vuelta

Romain Bardet’s Ag2r La Mondiale team confirmed Thursday that its French GC star will try his hand at the Vuelta a España this year.

Of the three grand tours, the 26-year-old has only raced the Tour de France. There, Bardet has been quite successful, finishing second in 2016 and third this year.

“My ambitions will be different than in the Tour de France,” Bardet said. “But surrounded by a strong team, I hope to make an impact on stages that suit me.”

Bardet will be joined by Italian teammates Domenico Pozzovivo and Matteo Montaguti, as well as countrymen Samuel Dumoulin, Alexandre Geniez, and Alexis Gougeard. Pozzovivo was sixth in this year’s Giro d’Italia and won stage 6 at Tour de Suisse.

To round out its Vuelta team, Ag2r will choose between Canadian Hugo Houle, German Nico Denz and Frenchmen Clément Chevrier and Julien Duval for the three remaining spots.

“Romain proved at the Tour de France and throughout the season he had reached a physical maturity that allows him to compete in two grand tours in the same season,” said Ag2r manager Vincent Lavenu. “It’s a logical progression in his career.”

Bardet is the latest of several top Tour de France riders who will keep racing into September. Four-time and reigning Tour champion Chris Froome (Sky) is at the top of the list of Vuelta favorites, though he’s never won the race. Three-time Vuelta champion Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) will also race. Plus, 2015 champion Fabio Aru (Astana) will return to the Spanish tour.

The Vuelta starts August 19 in Nîmes, France and finishes September 10 in Madrid.

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