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Romain Bardet is back, and he’s planning to attack.
Bardet returns to the Tour de France for the first time since 2020 and is hoping to put a fire into his home nation’s hearts with some high-mountain stage hunting for Team DSM.
“We are concentrating on stages,” Bardet said at the team conference Thursday.
“The approach has not changed, especially since I have no real certainty about my level and this first week. I want to race without thinking about the next day. I’m not thinking of the overall. I’m going to ride like we raced the Vuelta last year, offensively.”
Friday’s grand départ will see Bardet back in the saddle for the first time since the blazing high and crushing low of this spring’s Giro d’Italia.
The 31-year-old stormed into pink jersey contention through the second week before pulling out with an illness that sidelined him some time.
“Of course, a week without a bike at the end of May is not ideal. But we did everything we could in training, I’m happy. I was able to train as I wanted,” Bardet said.
‘I approach this race with even more desire’
Team DSM rolls out of Copenhagen planning a multi-prong assault with Bardet, fast finisher Alberto Dainese, and cobbles-basher John Degenkolb.
Bardet hopes to surf the wheels and stay upright in the perilous opening week before unleashing the type of high-mountain assault that scored him stage victories and polka dot jerseys at the Tour and Vuelta a España in the past.
“Our main goal for the three weeks is to go for stage results,” team coach Matt Winston said. “We will focus day-by-day on how the race is progressing and come up with plans for where we see that our chances lie.”
The restrictions and rigors that booked Bardet two trips to the Paris GC podium are far from the Frenchman’s brainwaves this summer.
Instead, he’s hoping some fresh stoke after skipping the race last year brings the type of swagger that earned him the polka dot prize in 2019.
“It’s true, I missed the atmosphere of the Tour last year, to be honest. We realize that it’s the major event of the year,” he said.
“And I think that I also needed this year of hindsight to appreciate its greatness even more. It did me good. I approach this new participation with even more desire and fresh eyes.”