• Frenchman Romain Bardet realises childhood dream of winning the polka-dot mountains jersey at Le Tour de France. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
French GC contender Romain Bardet claims that winning the Tour de France mountains jersey is a special career dream come true.
Cycling Central

28 Jul 2019 - 8:56 AM 

Despite two categorised climbs being removed from the weather-shortened 20th stage (59km) on Saturday, Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) managed to hang on to the mountains classification on the summit finish to Val Thorens and is guaranteed to wear polka dots on the Champs-Élysées in the Tour de France finale on Sunday.

For the 28-year-old Frenchman, who had yellow jersey ambitions as AG2R general classification contender, being crowned 'King of the Mountain' at the 106th edition of Le Tour is a welcomed gift.

"I dreamt of this jersey in my younger years," said Bardet, who posted two photos on his Instagram of what appears to be both he and his father. One from 1996, with the two standing along the French countryside cheering on Le Tour with the boy clad in a replica polka-dot jersey, and the other set after a stage at this year's race. 

"I am really happy. It will be really special to wear it on the Champs-Élysées tomorrow."

The French have enjoyed a renaissance of sorts, with Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) winning two stages and spending all but seven days of the three-week, 21-stage Grand Tour in yellow, as well as the performance of Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), who also claimed a stage win and hovered in the top five on GC until being forced to abandon the race due to injury on Stage 19.

Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) moved into 10th overall, while Pinot's Groupama-FDJ team-mate David Gaudu is 13th, right behind one of the race's 'Cinderella' stories, Guillaume Martin of Wanty-Gobert, who along with his Belgian team-mate Xandro Meurisse (21st) are enjoying the rides of their lives for the out-matched UCI Pro Conti squad.

Wanty-Gobert on a Tour blinder with Martin and Meurisse
With just three stages left in the 2019 Tour de France Team Wanty Gobert continues to surprise with consistent performances by climber Guillaume Martin and all-rounder Xandro Meurisse.

Now Bardet,who moved up one spot into 15th on GC after the penultimate stage, is set to become the 23rd French mountains winner - the most of any nation by five - and the third straight, including Barguil in 2017 and Alaphilippe last year.

"Special feeling to add my name to this long list," said Bardet, referring to a list of 'unofficial' meilleur grimpeur (best climber) winners which began with consecutive honours being awarded by L'Auto to compatriot René Pottier starting in 1905. "It's been one of my dreams during my career. It's nice to make it happen."