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Tour de France

Romain Bardet: ‘We could have sorted out the Tour de France podium after the Galibier’

Team DSM leader up to second overall and happy to be back in the GC game for first time since 2018.

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Romain Bardet is experiencing a Tour de France renaissance. He is placed second overall, 2:16 down on race leader Jonas Vingegaard, and six seconds ahead of Tadej Pogačar, following a consistent and audacious ride on stage 11 of the Tour de France.

“I’m very happy, I’m in the game,” he told L’Equipe. “I haven’t been in this position since 2018 [when he finished sixth]. It’s good to be back.

“I don’t like being sixth and spending my time suffering, calculating who will be able to get back time to me. I’m not in the two or three strongest, but I’m not far off. When I want to attack, I can, and I like that.”

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Racing his ninth edition of the Tour, Bardet showed all his experience with a measured ride on a tough profile, culminating in the Col du Granon.

After numerous failed bids to distance Pogačar from Jumbo-Visma, his group rode back to Vingegaard, Pogačar and Roglič as the race regrouped in the upper reaches of the Galibier, the day’s penultimate mountain.

As the lead group whittled down again on its closing stretches, he and Geraint Thomas were the last contenders left with Vingegaard and Pogačar. The pair yo-yoed off the group; once back again, Bardet attacked in the final kilometer.

When it was down to four of them after the summit, the Team DSM racer had hoped they would collaborate.

“The ideal scenario would have been working together to put 1:30 into the rest by the foot of the Granon. That’s the only disappointment of the day.

“Because we climbed the Galibier all out and it didn’t lead to much as everything came back together. A shame, as we could have sorted out the podium there.”

Smelling the stage win, he accelerated five kilometers from the top of the Col du Granon. But Jonas Vingegaard was too hot to handle when he came past. “I looked at my computer, my watts, and realized I couldn’t go at his pace to the summit.”

He finished in third, 1:10 down on Vingegaard.

Bardet was forced to withdraw from the Giro d’Italia midrace with illness, while positioned fourth overall. So far, so good for his home race, which appears to be offering a silver lining.

Bardet’s more balanced Tour attitude

He is no stranger to placing on the podium, finishing second here in 2016 and third in 2017. However, Bardet is now more balanced in his approach.

“I put enough pressure on myself in the past here, wanting to do too well,” he said.

“So now I try to be in front, to attack when I feel like it, without thinking of tomorrow. I’m not going to get carried away because the rest of the race will still be super hard.”

The Frenchman said he was just behind Pogačar and Vingegaard in terms of strength, alongside Geraint Thomas, who is 10 seconds behind him overall.

Of course, the 31-year-old has a habit of playing himself down: before the race, he indicated he’d be going for stages, for GC. Few might have expected him to put in quite such a prominent, bold showing on stage 11.

With Bardet, anything is still possible, not least a consistent ride onto the final 2022 Tour de France podium.