Romain Bardet’s Tour de France ordeal: ‘One of the worst days I’ve ever had on a bike’
Dropped on Mur de Péguère, Team DSM leader falls from fourth to ninth overall after stage 16 sufferings.
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Another contender fell out of Tour de France podium range on stage 16. In one day, Team DSM leader Romain Bardet lost more time to his rivals than he had in the preceding fifteen stages combined.
He ended a hot and heavy day between Carcassonne and Foix at 3:36 down on the group containing Vingegaard, Pogačar, Thomas and Gaudu as the biggest loser among the GC contenders.
“I was gone, I had nothing, I was way off the mark. It was a terrible day. I really didn’t see it coming,” he told L’Equipe.
After attacking the favourites on the Col du Granon on stage 11 and riding solidly through the Alps, the Team DSM leader was perched fourth after the final rest day, with designs on a podium finish.
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However, the warning signs already appeared on the Port de Lers, the day’s first climb. Bardet felt his temple throbbing and chills, telltale feelings he’d already experienced going up Alpe d’Huez.
He was dropped several kilometers from the top, necessitating a rapid chase on the descent with the aid of teammates.
On the day’s second and last ascent on the steeper Mur de Péguère he was definitively dropped by the acceleration of UAE-Team Emirates domestique Rafa Majka and left behind.
Unable to hold a steady pace, he was helped by fellow Team DSM riders Chris Hamilton and Andreas Leknessund to the top, 28 kilometers from the finish in Foix.
“I take my hat off to them. Without their help, I don’t think I’d have finished the stage,” Bardet added.
On the descent, usually his forte compared to other rivals, he lost a little more time.
Leapfrogged by the likes of compatriot David Gaudu, Nairo Quintana and breakaway beneficiary Alexander Vlasov, Bardet dipped to ninth overall, 6:37 in arrears.
This result is a reversal of Bardet’s track record, and not just given his previously consistent level at the 2022 Tour. The Frenchman has a history of taking his best results in the third week, with his Tour stage wins in 2015 and 2016 coming in the race’s dying embers.
“At the moment I can’t really explain what happened, it was one of the worst days I’ve ever had on the bike,” Bardet said on his team’s website. “In the morning I felt good but in the end, I don’t know what happened. I hope the good feeling will come back and it was just an off day.”
It’s a blow to the morale, though this time loss might afford the 31-year-old a little more freedom to attack in the Pyrénées for a stage wins, if he rediscovers his best form.
“There are two tough stages left, I hope to get back on my feet,” he said.