It had been a barren Tour de France for the French hopes but Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) corrected that yesterday as he took a super stage 19 victory at Mont Blanc.
It was an action packed day on the Tour as we saw plenty of riders’ crash including Chris Froome (Team Sky), Richie Porte (BMC), and another French rider Pierre Rolland (Cannondale Drapac) also tasted the tarmac as the rain caused havoc on the slopes of the Alps.
But in the end it was Bardet who broke away and caught up with the leader on the road Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) and rode to a important victory and also second place in the general classification, in front of Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange).
Bardet says he likes to race without a ‘plan’
Bernard Hinault was the last French rider to win the Tour back in 1985, but since then the French have had hopelessly little to shout about. But although they are lacking a real GC contender, yesterday Bardet produced a good showing to take France’ first stage win.
Speaking after his victory at Mont Blanc, the 25-year-old said: “It’s the way I like to race, have fun, with audacity.”
Bardet certainly rode on instinct yesterday and once he bridged the gap to Costa he showed his qualities to hang onto a slender advantage to take a stage victory but also propel him into second place 4min11s behind Froome.
Last year it wasn’t the best Tour for him, but this year he came into the race with aspirations of finishing high up on the GC; and with his showing yesterday finishing on the podium might still be an option.
The conditions en-route to Mont Blanc was treacherous, the rain made the roads slippery and we saw plenty of riders taking risks and ultimately paying the price.
“Today the rain made it even harder. To win, you have to take risks. I knew this climb, and I knew my bearings, and I knew where I could attack,” said Bardet.
Just like the British media when it comes to the England national football side; they can be quite critical of the French riders, and this year in particular has been the case, as up until now it hadn’t best the best Tour for the host riders.
And earlier in the race it seemed to affect Bardet, but speaking about the pressure of the press, Bardet said: “I was hearing comments that there have been no attacks in this Tour, but we are all very fatigued. I also knew I am in the best shape of my life.”