The Frenchman has ridden the Tour every year since 2013, with second and third place overall finishes in 2016 and 2017 respectively, taking three stage wins along the way as well. He’ll now break that consecutive run with his first attempt at the Giro d’Italia, his first target of the year before the Tokyo Olympic road race in July and the World Championships road race in Switzerland in September.
Bardet had a difficult time at this year’s Tour, struggling early on to match the other GC contenders. Despite winning the king of the mountains competition, the 29-year-old appeared well below his best as he finished in 15th place overall at over 30 minutes down. He subsequently ended his season following the Tour saying he needed time to “mentally and physically regenerate” ahead of 2020.
On paper the Giro route, with it’s long and high mountain stages in the final week, looks potentially good for Bardet despite three individual time trials. The Tour this year takes on an unconventional route that carries a huge amount of climbing throughout, with several extremely unpredictable looking stages.
The Tour also finishes just a week before the Olympics road race, making it difficult for those riders aiming to win both the yellow jersey and the gold medal. Both the Olympics and the Worlds road races suit climbers this year.
Bardet said his choice to skip the Tour was a chance to “open new horizons,” indicating he would return to the Tour in 2021.
“I have never hidden my desire to participate in the Giro d’Italia in my best condition, with the desire to shine,” Bardet said.
“It’s time to open new horizons, and dividing up the season with these three major objectives is exciting.
“It was not easy to give up the Tour de France, which has brought me so much, and which is a race I love deeply. But it seemed like a good time to open a parenthesis to the beautiful story that connects me to this race, with the intention of coming back even better next year.”
The Giro d’Italia 2020 takes place from May 9 to May 31, with the likes of two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali already confirming his intention to ride. The Olympic road race takes place on July 25 and the Worlds road race on September 27.