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The Giro will have to wait, Bardet doubles down on Tour

Ag2r—La Mondiale believes that Bardet has a realistic chance of becoming the first Frenchman since Bernard Hinault to win the yellow jersey.

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GAVIA, Spain (VN) — Despite flirting with a possible run for the pink jersey, French hope Romain Bardet will put the Tour de France at the center of his calendar in 2017.

Buoyed by second overall this year, Ag2r—La Mondiale believes that Bardet has a realistic chance of becoming the first Frenchman since Bernard Hinault to win the yellow jersey. And if he doesn’t go, he can’t win it, so it’s all in for the Tour in 2017.

“The Tour de France will be the objective with the highest priority for the coming season,” Bardet said in a team release. “What is certain is that I will not do the Giro d’Italia, which I considered doing for some time.”

Bardet admitted that the Giro’s centenary course for 2017 was awfully tempting, but with a French sponsor and a French team, there is tremendous pressure on France’s latest and best Tour hope to race on home roads this summer.

And the unconventional Tour route, packed with climbs across France’s five major mountain ranges, provides a tantalizing opportunity for the ever-improving French star.

“Romain wanted to race the Giro, so it was not a decision to take lightly,” team boss Vincent Lavenu said. “The 2017 route suits Romain’s qualities, and we will support him so that he can arrive at the start in the possible condition.”

Lavenu said Bardet will follow a “tradition program” in his approach to the Tour, with likely starts at Paris-Nice, Tour of the Basque Country, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné ahead of the Tour.

With the French hungry for its first Tour winner in more than 30 years, the team is sticking to the conventional approach to July. The Giro will have to wait.