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Tour de France

Tour de France: Romain Bardet eyes possible GC but keeps focus on stage victories

The Frenchman is still in the top 10 overall at the end of the first week despite coming into the Tour de France with stage win ambitions.

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CHÂTEL, France (VN) — Romain Bardet (Team DSM) says he is keeping an open mind on a GC bid at the Tour de France but is still focusing on stage victories for now.

Ahead of the Tour de France, Bardet said he would go stage hunting rather than look to mount a bid for the overall in what is his first Tour de France since 2020.

Despite not deliberately going for the general classification, Bardet is still neatly nestled inside the top 10 in sixth place at 1:39, just one second behind fellow Frenchman David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ).

“We don’t want to switch up our approach, we just want to ride as hard as we can every day. So far, I’m still there so it’s good but with COVID and crashes you never know what you can expect. I’m just taking it day by day,” Bardet said at the start of stage 9.

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Bardet’s participation in the Tour de France this season was initially in doubt after he left the Giro d’Italia during the second week. The Frenchman was forced out with a stomach bug on stage 13 and was unable to return to training for several days as a result.

So far, Bardet has been able to keep himself safe and has been duking it out with the top GC contenders over the first week. The team’s only major hiccup has been the departure of American rider Kevin Vermaerke, who crashed heavily during stage 8 and had to abandon with a broken collarbone.

Bardet was also caught up in the crash and suffered some superficial injuries to his leg, but he told VeloNews that he was ok.

“I didn’t come here with super expectation. I don’t really know where my shape was after the Giro, for sure I did some good training, but it was a long period with no racing. So far, except yesterday where we lost Kevin, it has been good,” he said.

Team DSM is also determined to stick to its original plan of stage victories and coach Matt Winston believes that it is possible for Bardet to hunt for stages at the same time as holding onto his GC position.

“We take it day by day, stage by stage, and see how we go. We won’t lose time in the first week, we said that before the race, but our main priority is stage results,” Winston told VeloNews. “To be honest, I’ve seen the stage results coming from the GC group, which it did on Friday. I guess that’s a stage that Romain could have been in with a chance of winning on his good days. I felt that would come from the peloton, so we didn’t go in the break. We still just go for those stage results and take it day by day.”