Even before the coronavirus crisis put the cycling calendar on hold, French rider Romain Bardet was planning to completely alter his season objectives. After two frustrating years at the Tour de France, the rider who twice finished on the podium (2016 and 2017), announced at the season’s start that he would focus on the Giro d’Italia instead. But COVID-19 changed all of that, and along with his Ag2R-La Mondiale team, Bardet announced that he would once again return to the Tour. But in an interview with his regional newspaper La Montagne, the 29-year-old rider said that he would not be focused on the overall classification.
“I don’t want to approach the Tour as I have for the last seven or eight years. I will prepare for it completely, but I don’t want to come with set objectives,” Bardet said. “Last year I had a lot of objectives, but I was really disappointed.”
Bardet of course still managed to win the polka-dot jersey of the climber’s competition, but it provided only small consolation for an otherwise frustrating race where he never managed to be a player in the fight for the yellow jersey.
“I want to return to the Tour as a real actor,” he said. “I am going to attack more but I won’t be focused on the overall classification.”
For Bardet, focusing on stage wins provides a new direction. But Bardet is at a crossroads in more ways that one. At the end of his contract with Ag2R, Bardet says clearly that he is open to change in 2021. The German-based Sunweb team is reportedly interested in the punchy Frenchman, and there are likely others.
“I am really thinking about it. I have arrived at a point in my career where I have acquired a lot of experience, but I still have several years in front of me where I will really be at my best. We are actively reflecting and trying to find the best way for me to make the most out of my career, at Ag2R, or on another team. I am at a point in my career where it is legitimate to think about such things.”
But for the moment Bardet wants to focus on making the most out of the 2020 season, despite its many changes. “I will deal with the negotiations once the season is really underway again,” Bardet said before adding. “For the moment I am closing no doors.”