The lure of the cobbles pulls strong on Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale). And with the UCI’s new-look season placing the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix falling after the Tour de France, the 29-year-old spies a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take to the stones.
“With this competition program, I can consider participating in cobbled classics,” Bardet told Le Monde. “It is clear that I really want to ride the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix once in my career. In a normal season that is not possible because then it is in the middle of the preparation for a grand tour.”
After two sub-par performances at the Tour, Bardet initially planned on prioritizing the Giro d’Italia in 2020 in the hope of reviving his stuttering grand tour career. However, with the early calendar torn up by coronavirus, Bardet’s Giro ambition has been derailed, and the Tour is back on the agenda.
With the cobbled races falling one month after the Tour wraps up, a northern classics campaign becomes all the more attractive for Bardet.
“The form we’ll build at the Tour de France will work well for a magnificent classics program,” he said. “Those who ride the Tour will have a real advantage at the Ardennes classics and then the cobbled classics.”
The Frenchman has proven his one-day credentials in the past, with a second-place at the mud-drenched Strade Bianche in 2018 before being denied in the sprint in the Innsbruck worlds later that year. Until now, he has never tested his legs on the stones of Flanders and Roubaix. That could change this October.
“They are during the Vuelta, so choices will have to be made,” Bardet said of the cobbled monuments. “It remains to be seen what choices the team also makes. But it is clear to me: I prefer to start in this very beautiful campaign of classics. It promises to be epic, with a greasy and wet road at the end of October. ”