It says much about Romain Bardet’s expectations of himself that the Frenchman looked totally dejected when he sat down in front of the Tour de France press corps to give his impressions on finishing on the podium for the second consecutive year.
Lying second going into the Marseille time trial, just two seconds ahead of Rigoberto Urán, Bardet would have needed to produce the time trial of his career to hold that position against the Colombian, who’s far more adept in this discipline.
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Instead he delivered one of his worst, only hanging on to a podium place by a single second, ahead of Sky’s Mikel Landa.
On the climb up to Marseille’s Notre Dame Basilica, Bardet looked nothing like the rider who had pressed Chris Froome so tenaciously for three weeks. When asked what had gone wrong, he explained he simply run out of juice.
“I’ve been struggling with a cold. I gave everything that I had but it wasn’t enough,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s how the Tour goes. There are some days where everything works out and others when it doesn’t.
“I rode the time trial with my head, because I knew I wasn’t up to the task physically. After the Izoard, I started to get tired, I didn’t feel all that good but I couldn’t give in.”
Bardet said he was proud of what he’d achieved and would, once he has had time to absorb events at the Tour, take heart from his performance. Although he finished a place lower than last year, he has been far more competitive throughout the race.
“I’ve got no regrets,” he continued. “Tactically, we rode an almost perfect race. We tried everything. It gives me real pleasure to see that the team make such an impact, that it can really put other riders into difficulty.”
He confessed that his recent lack of training on his time trial bike had also cost him.
“I don’t like training on it and there’s no doubt that I paid for that today. I need to make more effort in that area. That will give me another boost,” he stated.