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Romain Bardet to race for Team Sunweb from next season

Joseph Delves
10 Aug 2020

French rider leaves AG2R La Mondiale for the German squad

Romain Bardet is leaving AG2R La Mondiale for Team Sunweb next season. The 29-year-old French climber and GC contender announced the move this morning.

For many years France’s sole hope for victory at the Tour de France, Bardet has been a consistent performer at his nation’s Grand Tour. Having won multiple stages, he finished second overall in 2016, third in 2017 and last year won the mountains classification.

However, in the intervening years, he’s been joined by a host of promising French riders, notably Thibaut Pinot and Julian Alaphilippe.

A new team but the same aims

Having joined AG2R La Mondiale as a product of its development squad in 2012, Bardet has spent his entire professional career with the team.

The news of Bardet’s departure came on the same day as it was announced Greg Van Avermaet had been signed by AG2R.

With Van Avermaet joining fellow Belgians Gijs Van Hoecke, Stan De Wulf and Oliver Naesen, AG2R La Mondiale now seems to be reorientating itself to chase wins in the Classics as opposed to Grand Tours.

‘I’m very happy to have signed for Team Sunweb,' said Bardet in a statement confirming the move. ‘I wanted a team with a clear vision of the sport and one that is a member of MPCC. At Team Sunweb I have the opportunity to start with no specific expectations or a specific race to target.'

Despite this, with the departure last year of Tom Dumoulin to the powerhouse Jumbo-Visma squad, Bardet should have a clear leadership role at Sunweb – along with a strong support team.

Signed-up to race the Tour de France with his current squad this year, Bardet suffered a heavy crash on the opening day of the recent Route d’Occitanie. Despite this, he still managed to finish eighth, just 1:18 behind Egan Bernal (Team Ineos), although the injury subsequently forced him to abandon plans to race the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge.

Next in action at the Critérium du Dauphiné this Wednesday, this should be a good chance for Bardet to gauge his form. With this year’s Tour de France featuring only one time-trial, the 36km uphill stage to La Planche des Belles Filles, the route would seem to suit the climbing specialist.

Yet despite good form, Bardet remains little fancied outside of France, although perhaps unfairly so.