For nearly one month, Romain Bardet, the young French revelation of the 2014 Tour de France has been idled, not racing since the Tour de Romandie, aside from a one-day outing at the Grand Prix de Plumelec-Morbihan in France. But perhaps idle is not the best descriptor.
“I am coming in with the desire to get back in action after a long training and reconnaissance period,” the Ag2r La Mondiale rider said ahead of the Critérium du Dauphiné, which starts Sunday. “It will be a chance to validate this work. … I don’t know what to expect: Like everyone else, I will be at 90 or 95 percent of my potential and it would be good to do something with this form there.”
But in addition to hitting the French roads to preview important parts of this year’s Tour de France, Bardet has also hit the books to study.
“I am coming out of a period where the workload was heavy, so I need to rest,” he said. “So, I spend this week at home, and I only do training sessions. I also make the most of the time to study, because I also have a series of exams to validate my final year of school … immediately after the Dauphiné.
The Dauphiné itself will be a test for the 24-year-old Frenchman. Though he feels three-week stage races are more his forté, Bardet finished fifth last year and earned a top-10 finish overall in Romandie at the end of May.
Like most GC contenders, a top finish or a stage win at the Dauphiné would be a nice early summer appetizer, but Bardet is using the race primarily as Tour prep.
“[The team time trial] will be a rehearsal for the Plumelec stage on Le Tour,” he said. “There will be a lot at stake with the Tour’s team time trial, for everyone. It will be necessary to be strong, and I know we have prepared well.”
The slight, six-foot, 143-pound GC hopeful looks to be a quick study, but the real test will come in July.