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Is Romain Bardet the ultimate Giro d’Italia outsider?

French climber hopes to race under the radar until late-race podium surge in the Dolomites.

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Is Romain Bardet the ultimate Giro d’Italia outsider?

Twice on the Tour de France podium, the Frenchman vows to be back at his best after a few transitional seasons that’s seen the Team DSM climber put aggressive racing ahead of an obsession with the yellow jersey.

Racing this week at the Tour of the Alps, where he started Wednesday’s stage in second place overall, Bardet tells Eurosport he wants to be a factor in the Giro next month.

“I want to arrive at Budapest with 100 percent of my power, and then we’ll see where I end up. The goal is not to put pressure on myself,” Bardet told Eurosport. “The main thing is to give everything.”

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Bardet, 31, moved from longtime team Ag2r-Citroën to Team DSM in 2021 hoping to turn a new leaf.

After not finishing the 2020 Tour de France, Bardet skipped it last year, and instead debuted in the Giro and later raced the Vuelta a España, where he won a stage and finished second in the King of the Mountains competition.

Last season was solid for Bardet, with him winning his first races since 2018 in a haul that also included a stage at the Vuelta a Burgos and a top-10 at Il Lombardia to close out the season.

His first taste of the Giro last year, where he finished seventh overall and was second at Cortina d’Ampezzo behind Egan Bernal, only whetted his appetite to return to the “corsa rosa,” which starts May 6 in Budapest.

“I have a little bit of unfinished business with the Giro,” Bardet told Eurosport. “My GC wasn’t great, but I also didn’t target the Giro. It was my first year on the team, and there were a lot of changes. We assessed things, and I think I will arrive a lot fresher to the Giro this year. It’s a grand tour that suits me well.”

Bardet, who will also race Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday, isn’t intimidated by the time trials in the Italian grand tour. He pointed out that the 9.2km stage 2 time trial in Budapest ends on a climb, and cited an ascent in the middle of the closing day time trial in Verona.

“It’s a course that motivates me a lot,” Bardet said. “It’s very hard in the second half with a lot of stages filled with traps. There are many mountain stages stacked up in the final week that will wear everyone out.

“I have more ambition than last year,” he said of the Giro. “I had some difficult days last year, but I was still in the top-5 going into the final stages. Those were encouraging signs that helped us decide to prepare more thoroughly for the Giro this year.”

And what about the Tour?

Last year, Bardet skipped the Tour for the first time since his debut in 2013.

“We’ll talk about it again at the end of May,” he said. “I’m focused on the Giro. I don’t plan on what’s next. I don’t know how things will turn out. I don’t want to attack the Giro with other plans. I have a big job to do in Italy and we’ll see after that.”