GIRO 2022 – “For now, it’s going well”, Bardet can still dream of the general classification

“For the pink jersey, I didn’t know, it’s better to stay back again”. Narrowly deprived of victory, Sunday, at the top of the Blockhaus, Romain Bardet nevertheless got closer to the so precious pink jersey that he is eyeing even more this year than the previous ones. If disappointment prevailed after this terrible 9th stage of the Tour of Italy, the Auvergnat took advantage of his rest day, Monday, to put things into perspective around a program placed under the sign of relaxation: “A morning bike ride, massage and a little barbecue”.

Bardet blames himself: “It’s hard to accept…”

Third in the general classification, the Frenchman of the DSM could indeed have taken the pink tunic on Sunday, but 14 seconds still separate him from the place of leader of this Giro. After a week of racing, it is obvious that Romain Bardet is in the game, but the native of Brioude is also very lucid: “I feel good, everything is going well, it’s a very good start, but we’re not halfway through the Giro yet!”

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“I think that [la 9e étape] was the really tough first stage of the Giro, the first test”, he assured at a press conference. But past Etna and Blockhaus, the main mountain stages have not yet presented themselves. These opportunities will obviously give Romain Bardet the opportunity to take the measure of his main competitors in the general standings (Joao Almeida, 2nd; Richard Carapaz, 4th; Jai Hindley, 5th; Guillaume Martin, 6th…), while trying to win a stage victory which he still misses on the Giro.

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“We always said that we came here for the general classification”recalls the Frenchman. “But if I can win a stage by passing… I came close, I hope I will have another opportunity to raise my arms”, he added. In the event of victory, Bardet would offer himself the famous triptych with success on each big lap, a performance that 21 riders still in activity have achieved.

So far so good and I’m happy

Because, at 31, Romain Bardet now benefits from valuable experience which makes him say that his objectives are still in sight: “I have experienced a lot on the Grand Tours, great joys, disappointments, I now take things as they come, without taking my head. I have more than ten Grand Tours now behind me. I know how to what to expect, I know that everything can change. So far, everything is fine and I’m enjoying myself.”

“This Giro can be Bardet’s chance of life”

Twice on the Tour de France podium (2nd in 2016, 3rd in 2017), the former AG2R-La Mondiale rider came back strong this season by winning the Tour des Alpes in April. Since then, his start to the Tour of Italy has been all in control and he has proven that he was one of the best on the slopes of the Blockhaus, especially when the teammates of his competitors, certainly better armed than the DSM, are no longer there.

A general classification “still very tight”

“You can see that the teams have maybe less control over the race than in the Tour de France. It’s more open and so far over the first nine days the general classification is still very close. It’s quite interesting”, admitted the Frenchman. From now on, the mountains will give way to a few stages for sprinters in the coming days. Before returning to the heights.

“The next four steps may have pitfalls, we will have to remain attentive”, he said, thinking then of Saturday’s stage (Turin), according to him “harder than the next day’s mountain stage”.

No Frenchman has won the Tour of Italy since 1989 and Romain Bardet is certainly the one who can come closest this year. However, it remains to eliminate in particular Richard Carapaz and Mikel Landa whom he considers, with him, as the “three best” of this race for the pink jersey.

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