Third overall after his frustrating 2nd place on Sunday at the top of the Blockhaus, during the 9th stage, Romain Bardet made a superb start to the Giro which could give him a glimpse of great things over the next two weeks. "For the pink jersey, I didn't know, it's better to stay back again", he said on Sunday after having evacuated his disappointment.
This Monday in Pescara, it was time for the first day of rest and the traditional press conferences. “A morning bike ride, massage and a little barbecue,” smiled the runner from DSM (where he extended for two years), very fulfilled. A journalist asked him if he "kiffait" his Giro. " Yes. That’s a good summary,” he replied, still with a big smile.
Winner of the Tour des Alpes recently, Bardet, 31, confirms that he is in great shape. His start to the Giro is all in control. He made no mistake. "I feel good, everything is going well, it's a very good start, but we're not halfway through the Giro yet. I think stage 9 was the first really hard stage of the Giro, the first test. We always said that we came there for the general classification. But if I can win a stage by passing... I came close, I hope I will have another opportunity to raise my arms. »
"The state of mind is good, the legs too, so I'm having fun"
Twice on the Tour de France podium (2nd in 2016, 3rd in 2017), the former AG2R-La Mondiale rider relies on his experience. But without putting as much pressure on himself as when he was competing in the Tour for the Savoyard formation. “I experienced a lot on the big tours, great joys, disappointments, I now take things as they come, without getting in my head. I have more than ten great towers now behind me. I know what to expect, I know that everything can change. The state of mind is good, the legs too, so I enjoy myself. 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 tight. It's quite interesting. »
Bardet is shaping up to be one of the main opponents of Ecuadorian Olympic champion Richard Carapaz (Ineos). Bardet also admitted that he considered himself "one of the three best" of this Giro with also Mikel Landa.
The next four stages should be favorable to sprinters and adventurers. “But they can have pitfalls, we will have to remain attentive, he warns. But from Saturday, it will be full until the end. Saturday's stage in Turin is tougher than the mountain stage the next day. I have no apprehension, I'm just motivated to attack the last week. »