Romain Bardet (AG2R)

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Gregga said:
Seems training in Sierra Nevada with Pellizotti was good for Romain Bardet, still 3rd behind Nibs and Piti after two weeks...
Well lets see, Bardet was 15th overall last year. 7 of the guys who finished in front of him in 2013 are either not riding or have abandoned(Froome, Quintana, Contador, Kreuziger, Navarro, Talansky, Monfort). Rodriguez is clearly nowhere top shape, Fuglsang has been on domestique duties and was going well until his crash, Nieve was sacrificed for Porte. So that leaves Valverde who is still ahead of him, Kwiatowski who is not going so well this year and the Belkin boys as the guys he has leapfrogged over.

There is also the small fact that there has been no TT of any type to date. Bardet dropped 2 minutes + to some of the guys currently behind him in last years TTs and they were only 30km. Unless Bardet(and Pinot) have improved in that discipline, they will need more time over the likes of Van Garderen/Peraud to even podium.
 
Despite some suspect performances from AGR2 over the years (specifically Penaud's TdF podium) I think Bardet can be looked at as an individual. With his Giro disappointment on a new team I think now is the time for a retrospective on Bardet. I think he has had very consistent development and performance and is a case study of what clean performance by a GC contender 'might' look like.

  1. immediately shows underlying ability on debut GC challenge in a GT
  2. gradual improvement or steady performance over the next 3 or so years
  3. pronounced decline after 5+ years of competing in GTs
  4. consistent performance in ITTs, with no mystery 'good days' in this discipline
  5. After 6-8yrs of GT performance still shows class but struggles to muster a stage win, never mind a podium, against a weaker field in a non-TdF GT
  6. consistently takes risks (e.g. descents) to try and gain time in the knowledge they've less chance of achieving that going uphill (perhaps betraying an underlying knowledge that they are only human)
I was always in the Pinot camp in the Pinot/Bardet rivalry, but have to say I've enjoyed watching Bardet's career in animating races without ever setting my spider senses tingling. It is careers like his that maintain my interest in the sport.

I have absolute confidence that although he is only 30yrs old we will see no mythical Indian summer for Bardet in his mid-30s+ like a Caruso, Valverde or Horner.
 
Obviously a big profiteer of the AICAR years. Also AG2R never has been the cleaner French team like FDJ, Cofidis (after 2004), Bouygues Telecom (except 2011 & 2012). Their performance as a whole declined significantly after 2017.

Bardet has been in decent shape at last year's Tour de France prior to his concussion. Certainly not as bad as he had been in 2019. Also DSM whole season is quite miserable compared to 2020 where due to the pandemic there has been no proper testing and the team was in desperate need of new sponsorship with Sunweb being in financial turmoil. . Also it isn't quite clear weather Bardet even had full preparation for the Giro d'Italia. Neither training, nor medical program. The latter is explainable with DSM's absence in top results.

Maybe Bardet simply is a classics rider with decent climbing? In that case the clinic discussion misses the point as he benefited from the Tour de France routes of those years. Remember he actually came up as a classics contender in 2012. But honestly I don't think so.

Problem also is his attitude. He has been on the podium of the Tour de France twice. This rides for a top 10 spot are valueless. He hasn't won yesterday's stage. He certainly loses yesterday's won positions on the general classification due to his poor tt. Ends up being 8th in the Giro d'Italia after being runner-up at the Tour de France. If you see that Bouchard becomes King of the mountains and how many breakaways have succeeded that was Romain's path to podium. Ever since the 2018 failure he talks about wanting to ride aggressive blah blah and then hangs on for a minor GC spot despite. His polka dot jersey at the Tour de France was a bad joke. Guy does the talk, but not the walk. Hopefully he has finally learned his lesson and concentrates on Virenque style escapes and polka dot.

Maybe he never should have left AG2R. Of course Lavenu never should have forced him to switch plans and go back to France last summer. Bardet could've been right up there with Geoghegan Hart & Hindley with the shape he had in the early mountain stages at the Tour de France. After being denied his will again he simply had to leave. AG2R in fact had been the only French team sending their GC guys to the Giro d'Italia before (Gadret, Betancur, Pozzovivo) and looks for a captain in the Italian races ever since Pozzo left them. It's stupid.

Now both AG2R & Bardet pay the check for their dogmatics. AG2R finally has the budget with the added Citroën sponsorship. Finally has the quality bike sponsor with BMC. Remember they've been on poor quality bikes ever since Colnago left Casino. But the team leader in Bardet has gone elsewhere. Also for stage hunting and King of the mountains jerseys AG2R probably would've been the best team to assist. It also gives the sponsors great advertisement with him being on TV for a full day.
 
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Despite some suspect performances from AGR2 over the years (specifically Penaud's TdF podium) I think Bardet can be looked at as an individual. With his Giro disappointment on a new team I think now is the time for a retrospective on Bardet. I think he has had very consistent development and performance and is a case study of what clean performance by a GC contender 'might' look like.

  1. immediately shows underlying ability on debut GC challenge in a GT
  2. gradual improvement or steady performance over the next 3 or so years
  3. pronounced decline after 5+ years of competing in GTs
  4. consistent performance in ITTs, with no mystery 'good days' in this discipline
  5. After 6-8yrs of GT performance still shows class but struggles to muster a stage win, never mind a podium, against a weaker field in a non-TdF GT
  6. consistently takes risks (e.g. descents) to try and gain time in the knowledge they've less chance of achieving that going uphill (perhaps betraying an underlying knowledge that they are only human)
I was always in the Pinot camp in the Pinot/Bardet rivalry, but have to say I've enjoyed watching Bardet's career in animating races without ever setting my spider senses tingling. It is careers like his that maintain my interest in the sport.

I have absolute confidence that although he is only 30yrs old we will see no mythical Indian summer for Bardet in his mid-30s+ like a Caruso, Valverde or Horner.
Excellent post, I dont think Bardet is clean but his career and the path it took seems natural. And he never had a thermonuclear performance or anything like that, despite being incredibly gifted, incredibly skinny, and very hardworking. Even his 2nd place in 2016 Tour was a perfect opportunist moment on the wet descent. A racer I really respect and root for. Although still chasing GC with his classics results (2nd in Strade, 3rd in Liege, 2nd in Innsbruck) seems bizarre.
 
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2009 when L'Equipe rumored empty ampuls where found in Astana's rubbish.

Certainly 2011 when French Renaissance started with Gadret finishing 4th at the Giro d'Italia! Then that whole Wiggins & Froome thinspiration lose mass, but increase power thing started.

In 2017 / 2018 Dumoulin climbed mountains like Dutch Big Mig. Superskinny Bardet declined, just like petite Quintana in Grand Tours. Given Pogacar & Roglic are cyclings current frontrunners it seems that anorexic be like isn't all that fancy anymore to be a supreme general classification contender.

Gives you hints about the time frame, but far away from any kind of evidence.
 

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