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The French star surged to the overall Tour of the Alps in last month’s Giro primer in what is his first GC win since the Tour de l’Ain all the way back in 2013.
“It was super good to win Tour of the Alps, an important race because we went straight after a good block of training, to build confidence ahead of the Giro,” Bardet said Wednesday. “It’s pretty demanding when you test yourself, test your team. It was a good step to take the win there and have good legs.”
The Team DSM captain was brimming with confidence ahead of the Giro’s start Friday in Budapest.
“We are targeting the GC as a team, but we are not worried about a specific place, but just to do things as well as possible,” Bardet said. “Everything is in place. We cannot wait to start.”
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His first taste of the Giro last year, where he finished seventh overall and was second at Cortina d’Ampezzo behind Egan Bernal, only whetted his appetite to return to the “corsa rosa,” which starts May 6 in Budapest.
“The Giro is the best race that matches my skillset,” Bardet said. “We know the Tour de France is very controlled and it’s not so easy to shine. The Giro is a race that offers more opportunities for attackers, for a more wide-open race.
“I think the run-up to the Giro has been good, it’s been good for the confidence, but the Giro is another race, we start with high expectation as a team for sure but it’s a completely new race,” he said. “We’ll try to make the most of it but the Giro is one of the most unpredictable races and also the hardest, the legs will do the talk.”
Romain Bardet: ‘I can’t remember the first week of a grand tour being so hard’
Twice on the Tour de France podium, the Frenchman vows to be back at his best after a few transitional seasons that’s seen the Team DSM climber put aggressive racing ahead of an obsession with the yellow jersey.
Bardet, 31, moved from longtime team Ag2r-Citroën to Team DSM in 2021 hoping to turn a new leaf.
After not finishing the 2020 Tour de France, Bardet skipped it last year, and instead debuted in the Giro and later raced the Vuelta a España, where he won a stage and finished second in the King of the Mountains competition.
Bardet said he’s ready to roll after coming off his big Tour of the Alps successes.
“There will be three first stages, on roads that we don’t know, including the first two which will be very important,” he said. “I have experience of the grand tours, we have a very strong team here, with young riders who also have a very high level. For a team to work well everyone has to be involved so I will do everything you have to be strong as a team.
“Honestly I wouldn’t say they are the only two tough finishes, but for sure the final week will be the decision week. Blockhaus looks hard, Etna is on the first week of the race,” he said. “For me I’ve completed 10 grand tours but I can’t remember a start of the grand tour being so hard.”
Last season was solid for Bardet, with him winning his first races since 2018 in a haul that also included a stage at the Vuelta a Burgos and a top-10 at Il Lombardia to close out the season.
“We will quickly get to the heart of the matter with Mount Etna, but I don’t think it will not necessarily be very representative of what it could be three weeks later.”
The team will be more than just Bardet. Cees Bol and Alberto Dainese will be throwing elbows in the sprints, with Chris Hamilton for the mountains, and 22-year-old rising Dutch prospect Thymen Arsenman looking to confirm in his Giro debut.
“Our main focus will be on the GC with Romain as our finisher, and we have guys in great condition to support that goal,” said sport director Matt Winston. “We are fully focused and ready to fight from the opening day, where we can already expect some exciting and interesting action in the peloton. Morale amongst the team is good and we’re all super motivated to give our best and showcase our Team DSM jersey in Italy and bring home some top results.”