French star will return to Paris-Nice before possible two pronged attack
Romain Bardet has revealed he is considering a tilt at both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France next season. The 28 year-old has studied the routes of each race and believes success at both is a possibility.
“Yes of course,” he replied when asked if he wished to ride the Giro in 2019.
“The Tour looks really attractive, however the Giro is part of my career plan,” the AG2R La Mondiale rider revealed in an interview with French sports paper l’Equipe at the Shanghai Criterium last week.
Bardet began his 2018 campaign with a round of French one day races before heading to Strade Bianchi and finishing 13th at Tirreno Adriatico. For 2019, however, he will tackle Paris-Nice as a preface to the possible Giro Tour double.
A professional since 2012, Bardet has never raced the Giro, though he has proved his class at the Tour with two podium places, finishing 3rd in 2017 and second the year before.
At this year’s race, however, he managed only sixth, behind eventual winner Geraint Thomas (Team Sky). In each edition time trials are where he has lost the most time.
With three individual time trials in next year’s Giro adding up to a total of more than 58km against the clock, Bardet and his team will take time before deciding on his participation.
“They look difficult, but then we know the Giro runs differently from the Tour,” he explained. “We need to weigh the pros and cons. It is important that everyone gives his point of view and we decide at the end of November because the training in December will have to be prepared accordingly.”
Thomas and Froome are just two of a slew of time triallists who have proven successful at recent grand tours. Indeed this year’s Tour was dominated by rouleurs who have converted themselves to climbers, with Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) finishing second and Primož Roglič fourth.
“These riders can become climbers by losing weight, while the opposite is not true,” explained Bardet. “We also see a collective dimension in the mountains, with [team] trains. Pure climbers have less room for manoeuvre against the high general level [who] make sustained tempos.”
The Tour too has 55km against the clock, though more than half of that is the Stage 2 team time trial, and the race is otherwise heavily weighted in favour of climbers like Bardet. Next year’s race will include five summit finishes and an unusual amount of riding over 2000 metres.
Whatever Bardet chooses he will not sacrifice a leadership role at the Tour for Giro success.
“I could not ride the Tour as a follower, otherwise I will stay at home.” he continued. “I also know that the double challenge is complicated to achieve.”
Complicated is perhaps an understatement. This year Team Sky’s Chris Froome became the latest in a long line of riders who have failed to win both Giro and Tour in the same year.
The 2018 Tour de France was delayed from its traditional start date because of the football WorldCup, but even with that extra week’s recovery Froome failed to bag a fifth Tour victory, finishing only third, after his spectacular Giro success in May.
Indeed you have to go back as far as 1998 and Marco Pantani to find the last Giro Tour double winner, with Stephen Roche achieving the remarkable feat in 1987 before winning the world championships that same year.