Bardet (DSM) has been quietly putting in a very solid Giro and is now starting to make up some time against his other rivals in the high mountains, now sitting 1-22 off third-place Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo).
Frenchman Bardet managed second on stage 16 of the race after a daring descent saw him catch Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) before out-sprinting the Italian to the line just 27 seconds behind Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers).
But he revealed after the finish he did not know that he had taken second on the stage.
Even after his formidable ride, Bardet is now sixth overall with five stages remaining, 5-02 behind maglia rosa Bernal.
Speaking in a rest day press conference, Bardet said: "I have put on some strong showings in the past few days, so for sure I can catch riders like Carthy, [Aleksandr] Vlasov or even Caruso. They are in a better position than me for the podium spots but the fight is not over.
"It could be a tight fight because I think there are six guys fighting for just two spots so who knows what can happen but as we saw yesterday [stage 16] the classification is not sealed yet, it should be interesting to see."
"We will just try and focus on ourselves, we will try to move up some spots in the GC, the war is far from over, anything can happen in the Giro but Bernal looks really solid and he has the best team around so it will be a big challenge for everyone, but there is some good racing still to happen."
The 30-year-old Team DSM rider is well known for being talented on the downhill of mountains, but he had over 20 seconds to close on Caruso over the top of the Passo Giau on stage 16 of the race, even so, he seemed unfazed: "I just gave my best in the last 4km of the climb when Bernal attacked and we were all one by one to reach the top.
"I caught him [Caruso] like in a kicker in the middle part of the descent, I didn't want to go down the descent too fast because it was very cold up there and the road was sliding a bit, but I was happy.
"I knew I could join him because I was like 20 seconds at the top and I could always see him just in front of me so I knew I could make it.
"My radio wasn't working in the last part of the stage for some reason so I didn't know if there were some guys in front of us aside from Bernal, but anyway, that doesn't change anything in the end."
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