• Romain Bardet at the end of the 2016 Tour de France. (Getty)Source: Getty
Romain Bardet had teased a tilt at the Giro d'Italia but to the surprise of absolutely no one, the Frenchman has decided to prioritise the Tour de France in his 2017 schedule.
Cycling Central

12 Dec 2016 - 8:46 AM  UPDATED 12 Dec 2016 - 8:48 AM

Bardet (AG2R La Mondial) finished second overall at the 2016 Tour but has played down expectations of a similar result in 2017.

"As with past seasons, the Tour de France will be the objective with the highest priority for the season," Bardet said.

"In coming to that decision, we had a serious discussion with the team management and my coach to talk about the stakes involved and to put everything into perspective.

"The route for this upcoming edition is very interesting, taking in the five main mountain ranges in France. It will include strategic time trials and perhaps will offer an element of surprise by including fewer of the high mountain passes.

"The Tour de France is, of course, the main objective. I am not really thinking in terms of targeted numbers or placings, but in quality of performance. I know that my second place from last season will generate high expectations, but I am not going to get fixated on that."

"Romain wanted to participate in the Giro, so this was not a decision to take lightly. We took into account a number of parameters, and our team, Romain, his coach and AG2R LA MONDIALE took part in the discussion. The best solution was to go forward with a traditional program." - AG2R boss Vincent Lavenu.

The Giro d'Italia centenary route appeared to suit Bardet more and he had contemplated riding the Italian Grand Tour for the first time in his career, but team and sponsorship priorities overruled that ambition.

"What is certain is that I will not be participating in the Giro d’Italia, which I considered doing for a time, Bardet said.

"I want to discover the Italian race in particular, but it proved more interesting to us, for the immediate future, to choose a program that will resemble, in broad strokes at least, the sort of program I’ve followed in previous seasons.

While he is uncertain of his exact season start date Bardet will pursue a full suite of events in the run-up to the Tour, particularly those suited to general classification riders.

"Considering the rest of the year, there will certainly be other highlights like Liège-Bastogne-Liège, for which I feel a real attachment, as well as week-long stage races like Paris-Nice, the Tour of the Basque Country, and the Critérium du Dauphiné," he said.

"Winning some stages, and trying to wear and defend a leader’s jersey in one of those races would also be a great challenge."

Aggressive Tour route set for 2017
Tour de France organisers announced a dynamic and interesting route for the 2017 edition of the race and a mountain stage for the women's La Course.