Romain Bardet will end his six-month spell away from racing when he lines up at the Santos Tour Down Under later this month.
The Frenchman heads to Australia with his Ag2r-La Mondiale team hoping to get the wheels rolling on a season that will see a first-ever start at the Giro d’Italia and shot at Olympic gold in Tokyo. It will be his first race since a sub-par performance at the Tour de France last July.
“I haven’t taken part in a race since July 28th when the Tour de France finished on the Champs Elysées,” said Bardet. “I am particularly impatient to pin on the new bib number that will launch me into the 2020 season.”
“I have been preparing for many months for this, and have mixed it up a bit by riding track and doing some cyclocross, which has helped in getting me out of my traditional winter pattern,” he said.
Bardet is scheduled to race the Tour Down Under January 21-26, and stay in Australia for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, February 2. It will be the first time that the 29-year-old has started his season in Australia. His team down under includes American Larry Warbasse.
“I have never before returned to racing so early in the year,” Bardet said. “I think that these are the ideal conditions for a calm start to a great 2020 season, progressing day by day on short but hilly stages.”
After registering an anonymous result in the 2019 Tour, Bardet decided to sit out the rest of the season to mentally and physically reboot. The disappointing result was his second-straight flop at his home race, while countrymen Julian Alaphilippe and Thibaut Pinot captured the nation’s hearts as they came so close, yet so far, from France’s first yellow jersey in 34 years.
Bardet has already confirmed he will not return to the Tour for 2020 as he looks to mix things up and start the Giro d’Italia for the first time in his career.
Other grand tour riders set to line up at sprinter-focussed Tour Down Under are Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Richie Porte (Trek Segafredo), and George Bennett (Jumbo Visma).