Road

Warren Barguil’s Tour year begins in Oman

The 23-year-old Frenchman is gearing up for his biggest season yet, which will likely include a run at the Tour de France

AL WUTAYYAH, Oman (VN) — With his debut in the Tour de France on the horizon, Giant-Alpecin’s rising grand tour star Warren Barguil is starting the Tour of Oman for the first time.

“It’s been a really long wait until now,” Barguil said ahead of stage 1.

“Some people can be really strong during the winter, train well and be really good in the first race, but I need to see. I have no comparison, so I don’t know where I am.”

The 23-year-old Frenchman showed his capacities in the grand tours in the last two years in the Vuelta a España. In 2013, he won the Castelldefels and Formigal stages, the second a mountaintop finish ahead of Rigoberto Urán (Etixx-Quick-Step). Though he failed to win a stage in 2014, he placed eighth overall.

Giant is going to give him his first shot in the Tour de France this year. He will race alongside the established Germans John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel, who sprinted to four wins combined in 2014.

“A big year? I don’t know, maybe. We will see if it is or not. For me it is a big year because you have a lot of results, not because [you] ride the harder races,” he said.

“For sure for the Tour there will be big attention for me [being French]. We will pass Brittany and for me it will be a good moment; well, I hope that it will be a good moment. I still have a lot of races to do before and, for me, the classics are the same as the Tour, and they are really important.”

With the French public focused on Barguil and other young upcoming talents like Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), riding alongside stars Degenkolb and Kittel in a German team could have its advantages.

“It’s better because we have a lot of different goals for the team with John, Marcel, and me. We also have Tom Dumoulin for the prologue,” added Barguil.

“We have four goals, and everyone has a little bit of pressure. It is good, because if you only have one guy and he is out of the race, then that is a really big problem.”

First he must race in Oman. Barguil finished his first day of 2015 racing to 42nd in Al Wutayyah. Ahead are five more stages, including the queen stage Friday to Green Mountain where he will rely on teammates like American Carter Jones. The finish at 4,052 feet will be a chance for the Frenchman to test himself against riders like Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), and Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha).

“I just want to see my level in the climb for the next races. The goal is just to see if I’m ready or not,” Barguil said.

“I need to look to other people to see if I am where I need to be.”

After the sultan state race, Barguil will race Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya before the Ardennes classics mid-April.