After eight years in the colors of the Ag2r La Mondiale team, the French cyclist Romain Bardet is competing at the age of 29 for his last event before joining the Sunweb team. He confided in franceinfo.
The Tour of Flanders will definitely be a very special race this year: the last monument of the season, it will be played behind closed doors or almost, due to the health crisis linked to the coronavirus in Belgium. The race will also be special for the cyclist Romain Bardet who, at 29 years old, is preparing to turn not without nostalgia an important page in his career, after eight years of running under the banner Ag2r La Mondiale. This Tour of Flanders 2020 will remain, whatever happens, in the memories of the Ag2r La Mondiale team and Romain Bardet. For eight years, the two have grown together with two podiums on the Tour de France, in 2016 and 2017, a best climber jersey last year and three stage victories.
It has an exciting side. It is one of the races that I follow with the most passion on my couch. So be an actor today …to franceinfo
But soon to be thirty, the emblematic leader of the Savoyard team will run on Sunday October 18 his very first Tour of Flanders and at the same time his very last race with the jersey sky and earth on his back. Next season he will join the German team Sunweb. He agreed to reveal to franceinfo his feelings before the big departure and a few hours after having recognized the terrible Flandrian Mountains.
franceinfo: What are your impressions after having recognized this Tour of Flanders 2020, a race that does not really correspond to your climber size?
Romain Bardet: It is true that it is very particular: we are in a radius of about twenty kilometers where we go a little in all possible and unimaginable directions for a race as spectacular as it is difficult, with small roads, cobbled mountains. quite terrible because of their slope and the state of the paving stones. And with, above all, 200 guys at the start who are waiting for this event! It’s a bit of total cycling, and me, almost 30, I feel like I’m still discovering things, so it’s cool. It has an exciting side. It’s one of the races that I follow with the most passion when I’m on my couch and being an actor now is something that has really motivated me. Quite quickly after my fall on the Tour de France (Romain Bardet was forced to retire at the end of the 13th stage, victim of a concussion), I felt that it could be a great goal to finish my story with the team.
Do you think of this page that will turn with your long-standing team and the eight years spent at Ag2r La Mondiale?
Of course we think about it and there will be emotion. I’m not in the melancholy, but it’s a team that means a lot to me and that will also count in the future. And it was a great opportunity on one of the most important meetings of the year to bring my contribution and try to reciprocate everything the team has done for me, especially Oliver Naesen , who will be the leader this Sunday. All the beautiful stories and the beautiful memories we created together. Finishing on something new like this, I think I couldn’t have asked for better. I’m going to have 240 km to try to please myself and give back to the team everything they brought me …
By Sunday evening, we’ll have to stay in a bubble once again, a buzzword in cycling these days …
Yes it’s sure (laughs). It is true that Sunday evening, it will be particular but for the moment, one should not think about it too much. You should not start with too many things on your mind. I think the race is sufficient in itself: there is the desire to do well, too, of course. To make this discovery a success in every way, to show that I am proud of this jersey and to show it up front. There, it would be a success.
In the end, what does the Ag2r La Mondiale team represent for you? What do you remember when you leave it?
It’s just a big part of my life, a lot of memories, beyond the results that are reviewed every year. On a more personal note, these eight years are moments of life, group atmospheres and great encounters, people that I now have pleasure in counting in my close circle. I entered the Ag2r La Mondiale system through the training center when I was still a young teenager: I came out at almost 30, as a man. Imagine how far we have come together! The whole team made me grow and allowed me to flourish in my favorite sport so inevitably, there are a lot of things that will be fighting in my head on Sunday night. But it’s going to be fine, I’m still going to sleep on Saturday (laughs): we have seen others! But it’s true, it’s still going to be a page that turns.