• Romain Bardet out of the Stage 20 start gate. (Getty)Source: Getty
Barring any misfortune, Romain Bardet will finish third on the podium tomorrow in Paris, a year after he completed the race in second place overall.
Cycling Central

23 Jul 2017 - 6:18 AM 

Riding against the clock is not his strong suit and the pressure must have been enormous, but the AG2R rider dug deep on the Stage 20 time trial to finish a single second ahead of Sky's Mikel Landa on the general classification.

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It wasn't an easy run, with the 26-year-old Frenchman pulling into the starting gates underdone and apprehensive about the outcome.

“I gave it my all, but it just wasn’t enough. I saw quickly that I was not in the game," he said. "I made it through the time trial by using my head.

"For the past few days I have not been feeling well, and I paid cash for it today. I was not thinking about the podium during the race. I just wanted to get to the finish line as soon as possible.

"I know myself by now, and I knew the legs were just not there. When I woke up this morning, I did not feel well, but I couldn’t give up. I have kept a place on the podium, so I am satisfied."

While an unlikely final stage Team Sky raid on the bonus seconds on offer to place Landa beside his race leader Chris Froome on the podium remains possible, Bardet will have consolidated his position as one of the important riders of his generation.

If anything, his day is still to come. He hasn't yet reached his athletic peak, and with him, the signs look promising for a future French win at the Tour, something not accomplished since 1985 by the legendary Bernard Hinault.

With Sunweb's Warren Barguil (25) also stepping up at this year's Tour with two stage wins and the mountains classification jersey, French cycling appears to be on the cusp of something big.

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