Romain Bardet: "Starting to fill the leader's boots"


© Presse Sports

The best French rider in the 2013 Tour de France tells us about his weak spot for Paris-Nice, a race he discovered last year. However, ambition is the overriding emotion as Romain Bardet gears up for the 72nd Race to the Sun. His 13thplace at the recent Tour of Oman (where he was the best young rider) and his win at the Drôme Classic the day before yesterday have put him on the map as one of the outsiders who could very well upset favourites such as Richie Porte, Vincenzo Nibali and Tejay Van Garderen...

After an already impressive 2013 season, the start to 2014 has been even more auspicious. Is this the perfect run-up to Paris–Nice?
Everything is going as I expected. I chose not to race in January and to begin my season quite late, at the Tour of Oman. It all went smoothly, with the opportunity to tweak my form and, most importantly, to ride at a high pace in the stage to Green Mountain (stage 8). Last weekend I went back to a different style of racing at the Classic Sud Ardèche and the Drôme Classic. Everything turned out great at these nervous races, in both of which I had to step to the fore, and I was able to pick up my first professional win in a one-day race. It is crucial for me to build confidence ahead of my objective, Paris–Nice.
You are not the only one bringing home the bacon for your team, with Carlos Betancur claiming victory at the Tour du Haut-Var. Who will be playing what role next week?
On paper, we'll both be protected riders. However, the course will later force us to be proactive, reactive, and pragmatic. We'll adapt to the results and race circumstances throughout the week.
"We'll have to be on the hunt for top
Places and seconds every single day"
The course seems tailored to riders like you. Does this fire you up?
I was obviously happy when I saw there'd be no time trialling. I also think there isn't a single queen stage in which the riders of a given team can set the race on fire for their leader. This means we'll have to be on the hunt for top places and seconds every single day. To do this, we'll have to go on the attack. Wednesday will be the first test after a handful of stages in which we'll have to be extra careful with the wind.
Is this week an opportunity for you to earn respect in the eyes of the world elite?
My aim is starting to fill the leader's boots and achieving a good result in the overall classification. It's the logical next step in my progression, which will be spread across several seasons. But I can already say I feel stronger than last year. There's no way I could have gone so fast at this time of the season back then. This doesn't mean the learning phase is over, quite the opposite, but I want to get used to riding like the men who finish these races at the top. And, if my legs agree and the opportunity arises, I won't think twice before tearing up all these plans next week. At any rate, the course is more favourable than ever. They're breaking the mould, and that's great.

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Jersey wearers after the stage 8

Classifications after the stage 8


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