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Cycling | Tour de France

Romain Bardet © Getty Images

Bardet suffers Marseille nightmare, upbeat on future

France's Romain Bardet described Saturday's time trial in Marseille as a nightmare after coming within one second of throwing away three weeks of hard work and missing a place on the Tour de France podium.

The 26-year-old had begun the 22.5km circuit of the port city still with an outside chance of becoming the first home winner since 1985, trailing leader Chris Froome by 23 seconds.

After coming to a virtual standstill on the steep hill to the Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde, he was left hanging on to third place by his fingernails.

Dripping with sweat, he just about managed to cross the line in front of charging yellow-jersey wearer Froome who was the last rider to start, two minutes after Bardet.

The AG2R-La Mondiale rider said a cold, picked up in the Alps, had not helped his cause, although he also said his reluctance to practice time-trialling "because it's boring" had cost him.

"Going up the hill was a nightmare and not a moment I want to remember this year," Bardet told reporters. "But we are all human and we have tough moments. You just hope that they don't happen at a crucial moment.

"We didn't focus on the time trials," Bardet, who finished 52nd of the 167 starters on Saturday and nearly two minutes slower than third-placed Froome, said.

"For me, it's a bit boring but today I paid a high price."

Unless Team Sky skip usual protocol and make a move to get fourth-placed Mikel Landa on the podium during Sunday's processional ride to Paris, Bardet will finish third, having been runner-up to Froome last year.

"I don't know if anything will happen. I want to hang on to the podium spot. It was more difficult to be on the podium this year so I don't want to waste everything."

While it was a disappointing end to Bardet's Tour he said the fact that he had matched Froome throughout the three weeks, and beaten him in the Pyrenees, left him feeling optimistic about his chances of taking the yellow jersey next year.

"I really didn't focus on what level (Froome) was at this year but I saw that I improved and now I know I can battle it out on an equal level in the mountains," he said.

"That's great for the future and for my confidence that I can go on fighting for the yellow jersey. Froome has teammates who would be leaders in other teams but we were present with them in the mountains and won time."

He knows he still needs to strengthen his Achilles heel though. "I'm only 26 and I have a lot I can still improve on, especially the time trials.

"Today was a fairly big kick in the arse and it's up to me to make more effort, even if time-trialing is something I don't like. I need to focus on that."


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