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JESI, Italy (VN) — Just minutes before racing again at the Giro d’Italia following its second rest day, Team DSM leader Romain Bardet told VeloNews that he wasn’t going to let his guard down going into a run of easier stages after climbing his way into third place overall at the Blockhaus summit on Sunday.
“The GC is so tight you never know what might happen,” the Frenchman said before the stage 10 start in Pescara. “Every contender is looking to perhaps take the maglia rosa or at the very least to make a move up the classification.
“When you’re riding for GC, you’ve got to keep your focus every day. Sometimes when you do relax a little bit that’s when problems can happen, so my aim is just to remain focused. I won’t underestimate the second week.”
Some four-and-a-half hours or so later, as the Giro sped towards the stage finish in Jesi, Bardet’s watchfulness was very apparent.
Second to the top of the final categorized climb on which the peloton split to pieces, the Frenchman was never far from the front, and was quick to respond to the flurry of attacks in the final half-dozen kilometers, before taking seventh place in the final sprint behind Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux winner Biniam Girmay.
Bardet on the Giro: ‘I love the way it is raced’
Bardet had explained prior to the stage start that one of the reasons he relished racing at the Giro and why he’s had so much success at the last two editions of the corsa rosa is because the racing is unfettered like this, that it’s not as locked down as the Tour de France.
“I love the way that it’s raced. There’s less control than you’d see at the Tour. I think it’s the Grand Tour that suits me the best,” he said.
“I’ve also got more experience about racing here after last year, which has helped me, too. I’ve focused the first part of my season on this race, so I’m happy that things have gone so smoothly so far and that I’ve got a clear shot at it.”
The DSM team leader believes there are other reasons for him thriving at the Giro, where he finished seventh on his debut last year.
“I think the climbs suit me better than those in France. Also, the further we get into the race, especially when we’re into the third week, the more difficult it will be, and I like that aspect too,” he said.
“But before then, I have to be aware over the next few days. I’ve got to be careful.”