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Romain Bardet’s unrequited love for the Giro d’Italia

His former team AG2R didn’t let the Frenchman drive the Tour of Italy, even though he wanted to. Sunday shows that Bardet still lacks the feeling for the Giro.

On Sunday, Richard Carapaz (left), Romain Bardet (centre) and Mikel Landa temporarily outpace their competitors – but they fail to decide who wins the day.

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Romain Bardet approaches the Giro d’Italia. After the 9th stage, he is still in 3rd place, which is his best result so far on the Tour of Italy. But the Frenchman wasn’t really happy about that. Because of tactical mistakes, his double attack on the stage win and the Maglia rosa on Sunday came to nothing. His great love for the Giro once again went unrequited. The former Tour de France runner-up climbed into the team bus after the race with a scowl on his face.

The unhappy relationship between him and the Giro has lasted for a number of years now. As early as winter 2016, just a few months after his second place at the Tour de France, he announced that he would very much like to complete the Giro and would even accept a weaker condition at the Tour de France: “I know what I am thanks to the Tour, but I love the Giro and really want to ride it,” he said.

AG2R denies Bardet Giro participation

His employer at the time, AG2R, didn’t think it was such a good idea. Bardet was the top driver of the French team at the time, he is French himself, and before the musketeer Julian Alaphilippe enchanted everyone who could sing the Marseillaise with his furious attacks, the subtle lad from Auvergne was the darling of the Grande Nation. And because the Tour de France traditionally offers the best advertising space, the sponsors’ grumbling about the domestic star’s break from the tour must have been very big.

The spectacle was repeated a few years later when the rider once again professed his love for the Giro. However, his team absolutely did not let him take part in the Tour of Italy.

Only a change to Team DSM made it possible for Bardet to take part in the Giro for the first time last year. His debut was passable. But he never came close to the podium – and there was no stage win either.

Lopez defends the maglia rosa in extremis

This year he’s getting closer to that goal. On Sunday, Bardet even broke away from his most important rivals in the standings, the Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz and the Basque Mikel Landa, a few kilometers from the finish at Blockhaus. But the trio of veterans missed the chance to win the stage among themselves. As the best of the three, Bardet would have gotten the leader’s jersey.

However, Bardet, Carapaz and Landa failed to consistently pick up the pace. This enabled the eventual stage winner Jai Hindley to catch up. The Australian triumphed in front of Bardet and Carapaz. And Juan Pedro Lopez rolled up from behind and defended the Maglia rosa in extremis.

Despite all his experience, Bardet has not yet found the feeling for how to ride the Giro successfully. And so the Frenchman continues to act like a troubadour in the Middle Ages, who faithfully posts himself under the window of his beloved, but who never manages to utter the right verse or the right tone from the harp.

Wheel. 105th Giro d’Italia. 9th stage, Isernia–Blockhaus (191 km): 1. Jai Hindley (AUS) 5:34:44. 2. Romain Bardet (FRA). 3.Richard Carapaz (ECU). 4. Mikel Landa (ESP). 5. Joao Almeida (POR), all same time. 6. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) 0:03 behind. 7. Emanuel Buchmann (GER) 0:16. 8. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) 0:34. 9. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) 0:46. 10. Thymen Arensman (NED) 0:58. – 15. Juan Pedro Lopez (ESP) 1:46. 19. Lennard Kaemna (GER) 4:34. 34. Simon Yates (GBR) 11:15. 67. Mauro Schmid (SUI) 24:01. 123. Reto Hollenstein (SUI) 44:01. – Overall ranking (9/21): 1. Lopez 37:52:01. 2. Almeida 0:12. 3. Bardet 0:14. 4. Carapaz 0:15. 5. Hindley 0:20. 6. Guillaume Martin (FRA) 0:28. 7. Landa 0:29. 8. Pozzovivo 0:54. 9. Buchmann 1:09. 10. Pello Bilbao (ESP) 1:22. – 15. Kamna 3:26. 25. Yates 11:11. 84. Smith 1:14:45. 146. Hollenstein 2:06:06.

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