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CATANIA, Sicily (VN) – Romain Bardet will be heading to Italy with gusto Monday.
Bardet comes out of the Budapest “big start” of the Giro d’Italia in range, in contention, and in form.
“I think overall, we can be happy that we’ve came out of Hungary in a good way. The guys have ridden really well together each day and we’ve stuck to our plans well,” said DSM sport director Matt Winston. “We’re still up there in the GC fight and took a solid top ten in the first bunch sprint, so we have something to build on in the coming days.”
Bardet and rising wingman Thymen Arensman emerged unscathed from three days of big crowds and opening-stage jitters in Budapest. The Frenchman sits 14th, 35 seconds down on pink jersey Mathieu van der Poel but only 24 down on “leader in the clubhouse” Simon Yates.
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For Bardet, being half a minute back is as good as a win. Saturday’s explosive TT was far from his wheelhouse and he’d not been relishing the unknown roads and frayed nerves integral to any Grande Partenza.
Seventeenth in the bombastic Budapest time trial showed Bardet he still has the legs that won him Tour of the Alps in the middle of last month.
” I was a little distracted, but I felt that I had power when I had to press on the flat so it’s a good sign,” he said Saturday. “The feelings are good, even if it’s hard to say because we haven’t done much yet. The form was good a fortnight ago, no reason for it to disappear.”
Bardet based his whole season around the Giro this year. The Frenchman has a new lease of life and commitment to attack since moving to DSM.
After coming within 24 hours of a top-5 at last year’s Corsa Rosa, Bardet is back and has big ambitions for 2022. And with rising Dutch dynamo Arensman alongside him and at 44 seconds on GC, Team DSM has both pawns in its Giro masterplan still in the game.
The first summit finish of the race looms large on the Sicilian horizon Tuesday. A 23km grind to Etna will show how far Bardet might be able to go.
“We will quickly get to the heart of the matter with Mount Etna, but I don’t think it will not necessarily be very representative of what it could be three weeks later,” Bardet said before the race Wednesday.
Six days later, Bardet will no doubt be hoping his hot start converts on the Volcanic slopes and carries through to Verona at the end of this month.