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The French team lives and dies with the results of its star GC rider, Romain Bardet, who is perhaps France’s best grand tour rider of this generation. Bardet’s second-place finish in 2016 and third in 2017 gave France hope of a potential GC victory, yet he has not risen to the same heights since then. Bardet was originally slated to race the Giro d’Italia in 2020, but the pandemic refocused him on the Tour. The Frenchman has said he will not target the general classification, and instead pursue an aggressor role to target stage victories and perhaps another polka-dot jersey. Such a strategy would also open the door for Oliver Naesen, Pierre Latour, or youngster Benoît Cosnefroy to seek their own ambitions.
Will Bardet really ignore the yellow jersey? If so, then a major contender for GC will be removed from the chessboard — something we hate to see. That said, if Bardet and crew target stage wins, then AG2R-La Mondiale will be perhaps the strongest of the opportunist squads at this year’s race.