This year’s Tour de France has been analyzed from most every angle, yet it’s worth sharing this story from inside the SRAM and Zipp equipped AG2R LA MONDIALE team. Undisputed team leader Romain Bardet’s win on stage 19, and subsequent second place on GC, was ultimately a tale of defiance, friendship, and instinct. Here is the story from numerous sources, including SRAM staff:
Stage 19 was a 146km mountainous battle that finished into Saint Gervais Mont-Blanc, France. Late into the stage Bardet was advised via team radio by Sports Director Julien Jurdie to not take any risks. As Bardet considered the advice he knew in order to win, or even have a chance in this Tour, he would have to push his limits.
Bardet and teammate Mikaël ‘Mika’ Cherel discussed an attack on the descent of the Col de Saisses, which lead straight into the final ascent into Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc. Romain's radio was disconnected and knew this was the moment to attack. He trusted his instinct and his ‘brother on the bike,’ Mika Cherel. Bardet and Cherel rocketed down the descent and Bardet then catapulted himself across to stage leader Rui Costa (Movistar Team). As the finish approached Bardet soloed away for the stage win.
Following the stage Cherel told reporters, “We had something in mind for this descent; we knew it really well. We knew that it would play a big role today. I told Romain to keep on my wheel and we will do something together. He replied ‘don’t take too many risks.’ He knew that with the challenge and excitement we could make some mistakes.”
On France 2 (French Television), Bardet said, “The instinct prevailed on this stage. I told him (Mika), I trust you, you are my eyes, I take your wheel, I don’t care about anything and we will see what happen. To win I have to take risks.”
As a follow-up Director Jurdie added, “They didn’t listen us and they were right.”
Following the stage win Romain thanked his team, especially Mikaël Cherel. “I really owe this victory to Mika. He (Mika) said, we go full gas on the descent, I will put you into orbit and we go fast on the descent. My radio was disconnected. I said: OK, go full gas and we will see. I had climbed it two times before so I had some points of reference. I knew when I had to accelerate. I’m really happy with the climb…it’s a real fairy tale."
Romain Bardet finished second on the General Classification in Paris, owing everything to his team, his friend, and his gutsy attack. Congratulations to Romain and his AG2R LA MONDIALE team for a fantastic 2016 Tour de France.
Bardet rode SRAM RED® WiFLi™ and Zipp® 303 Firecrest® Tubular wheels. On the flat stages he rode SRAM RED eTap®.
Photos courtesy of @BrakeThrough Media and @TDWsport