Romain Bardet will lead the charge for AG2R-La Mondiale at the Criterium du Dauphine this weekend. It will be Bardet’s third consecutive appearance at the race and he will be looking to improve on his career-best finish of fifth in 2014.
“First of all, I decided to have a break after La Doyenne,” he says. “I am studying management at the Grenoble Business School and, as part of my master degree, I did some work in public relations for the AS Montferrand rugby club. It was an interesting experience because I discovered new professional responsibilities.
“Then, I trained on the next Tour de France stages which are situated in the Cantal area. Finally, from the 12th to the 25th of May, I went to Sierra Nevada for a team training session.
“We rode 1500 km and climbed mountain passes which were 3000 meters high. Basically, it was hard work but our team atmosphere was really great. It is always important for us to train together because we can test our physical and mental abilities in a team environment.”
Bardet is ambitious for the Criterium du Dauphiné.
“As always, it is a beautiful but merciless race with a lot of well-known climbs in the Alps,” he says.” In this context, this race will not only be a question of quantifiable target but also a matter of taking control in the decisive moments. I have not ridden since April, therefore I will need to get my competition rhythm back. The three first stages seem to be ideal to do so.”
“Then, I hope I will be able to compete against the GC contenders because I have been feeling in great shape over the last few weeks. We have an impressive team line-up, with riders who showed strong skills last week-end in Bretagne.
“Then, after the Dauphine, we will train in the Alps to identify some key stages before getting ready for the French National Road Race Championships.”
Last year Bardet won the epic Pra-Loup stage.
“It was a sensational moment which was almost as intense as my victory in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne at the Tour de France few weeks later. I appreciated the way I rode on this precise day. I won because I was not afraid to dare. The Dauphiné route is a realistic preview of the Tour de France and therefore a stage victory is always an amazing result. Finally, there is a strong emotional link between this race and the AG2R LA MONDIALE pro cycling team which has had its headquarters in Savoie for 25 years.”
Sports director Julien Jurdie added:
“The Criterium du Dauphiné is a difficult race with an exceptionally mountainous route. We are here to be successful on the roads that are familiar to us. A large part of our team has just returned from a training session in the Sierra Nevada mountains (Spain). Obviously, they will have to adapt themselves to the competition requirements. Romain Bardet is an ambitious leader and he will be surrounded by talented riders such as Samuel Dumoulin who just won two raceslast week-end. We are able to excel in what we are doing. Therefore I expect them to be as opportunistic as possible.”
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