The Danes will not see Julian Alaphilippe’s rainbow jersey on the roads of the Tour de France 2022, which starts this Friday July 1 in Copenhagen. But the public will witness the return to the event of two other Frenchmen who have already made the final podium in Paris: Romain Bardet, second in 2016 and third in 2017, and Thibaut Pinot, third in 2014. Two riders who have changed objective and are no longer aiming for the general classification.
Romain Bardet wants to run “offensively”
Romain Bardet, 31, had not returned since his retirement in 2020. “To be honest, I missed it last year”, he confided before the big departure. The Auvergnat also confirmed what he had already declared: he will “focus on the steps” and will not hesitate to put himself at the service of his teammates. “I’m going to run like we ran the Tour of Spain, he announced. Offensively. I will have my chance in the mountains. »
The former leader of AG2R, who now races for the German team DSM, shone in this Vuelta 2021 by winning at Pico Villuercas. He also demonstrated his good form last May on the Tour of Italy, before being forced by a virus to dismount. He then had to take the time to recover. “I have no certainty about my level, he acknowledges. It doesn’t detract from my motivation. But I want to run without thinking about tomorrow. »
Thibaut Pinot, as a “guardian angel”
The other tricolor headliner, Thibaut Pinot, is in a similar state of mind. He too has not reappeared in the Tour de France since his ordeal in 2020. Then a contender for the yellow jersey, he had been the victim of a fall which left a lasting mark on him. After a long break, the 32-year-old Franc-Comtois did not want to be leader of his lifelong formation, Groupama-FD: “Being the leader in the Tour de France is exhausting, you have to be ready in your head. ». And he is not.
Here it is now “guardian angel” of David Gaudu, according to the expression of Marc Madiot, the boss of their team. Between the two climbers, the roles were reversed. “It happened naturally. assures Thibaut Pinot. We weren’t fighting for leadership. David wanted it, he got it naturally.In my role, I will take more pleasure and I will be more useful to the team. »
David Gaudu, “podium objective”
David Gaudu will aim for the best possible place in the general classification. “The team is built around him, explained Marc Madiot. There is no rivalry, no opposition, there is no ulterior motive, we are all in the same boat and the goal is to attack the podium.. The manager does not doubt the qualities of his 25-year-old leader, nor of his teammates: “ We have nothing to envy to the others, we have shown in the big races this season that we are up to standard. »
The young Breton finished 11th in the 2021 edition. At ease in the mountains, this year he will first have to get through a first week without incident which promises to be full-bodied and tricky, with in particular the cobblestones of the North on Wednesday July 6 . But he did not depart from his usual calm in the pre-Tour press conference : “Marc has announced a podium objective, it seems high but if we don’t set high objectives, we won’t move forward. »
Guillaume Martin, for a first
As for the Frenchman best placed last year in the general classification, Guillaume Martin (8th – Cofidis), he hopes to finally be able to win the first stage of his career on the Tour de France. Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic), he has already tasted this pleasure in 2017, twice. He arrives launched by an excellent start to the season, which notably saw him triumph at the Miguel Indurain Grand Prix in Spain.
(Archives – Video of 06/07/2019)