Bardet takes it to the ninth de­gree

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

BERGERAC, France: Ro­main Bardet’s at­tack on the treach­er­ous de­scent of the Mont du Chat and his team’s bold strat­egy dur­ing the ninth stage of the Tour de France, were lauded by three-times cham­pion Greg LeMond yes­ter­day.

French­man Bardet, run­nerup last year, had his AG2R-La Mon­di­ale team pile on the pres­sure in the de­scent from the Col de la Biche – one of three out-of-cat­e­gory climbs – which led Chris Froome’s lieu­tenant, Geraint Thomas, to crash and break his right col­lar­bone.

AG2R-La Mon­di­ale, who are based in the Cham­bery area where the stage was held, used their knowl­edge of the ter­rain to blow the race wide open.

Bardet, known for his ag­gres­sive style, went on the at­tack on the last de­scent, dis­tanc­ing race leader Froome and other ri­vals.

He was only caught 2km from the fin­ish af­ter a bold solo ride in the fi­nal flat part of the stage won by Colom­bian Rigob­erto Uran.

“I loved it, they took risks, AG2R were re­ally ag­gres­sive,” LeMond, who is on the Tour as an an­a­lyst for Eurosport, said. “I love see­ing a team strat­egy that’s re­ally rip­ping things apart. It’s part of the strat­egy to string things out.

“What Bardet did was grand style.”

Bardet sits third over­all, 51 sec­onds be­hind Froome of Team Sky and 33 sec­onds adrift of Ital­ian Fabio Aru (As­tana).

LeMond be­lieves that al­though Froome re­mains the over­whelm­ing favourite to add to his 2013, 2015 and 2016 ti­tles, three riders are still in the mix to un­set­tle the Bri­ton.

“The real play­ers are Froome, Aru, Bardet and Uran, who is go­ing to do bet­ter than peo­ple think. He’s the dark horse,” said the Amer­i­can, who won the Tour in 1986, 1989 and 1990.

Uran is fourth over­all, 55 sec­onds off the pace, and his Can­non­dale-Dra­pac team man­ager Jonathan Vaugh­ters refers to him as “Volde­mort, the guy whose name can’t be men­tioned.”

Yes­ter­day was a rest day on the Tour, which re­sumes with a flat 10th stage be­tween Perigueux and Bergerac to­day be­fore the big guns battle it out again in the Pyre­nees from Thurs­day.

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