Romain Bardet will skip the French national championships next weekend in order to be at his best for the Tour de France, with the AG2R La Mondiale team naming six of the seven riders who will support his bid for the yellow jersey.
Bardet, who finished on the podium at the Tour in 2016 and 2017, has had a subdued season so far and expressed his disappointment at finishing 10th at the Critérium du Dauphiné and 2nd at the Mont Ventoux Challenge in the past week.
This week he decided not to compete in the French national road race championship on June 30, calling it a ‘rational decision’ based on his preparation for the Tour, which begins in Brussels on July 6.
This year’s French nationals road race will take place near Nantes in north west France, with 15 laps of the 16.8km circuit used in the Classic Loire Atlantique. While the circuit can be selective, it is not hilly enough for Bardet to entertain any real hope of success.
“I’m very attached to French cycling and its values but this decision is the most rational in terms of my preparation for the Tour de France,” he said. “I understand the importance of the presence of our country’s best riders to the organisers and the public. I’m very serious about competing in races on the national calendar and wearing the national jersey each time I have the honour of being selected.
“However, I have to take advantage of every day that leads to the Tour in order to carry out my final training sessions in the mountains, and the geographical distance and the parcours of the 2019 nationals would deprive me of those important moments.”
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