“He doesn’t deserve this”: the French riders of the Giro react to the abandonment of Romain Bardet

Romain Combaud (DSM) “I have lived in Clermont-Ferrand for twelve years and worked with Romain in the region for eight years. He has become a friend, even more so since we have been on the same team. Before the Giro, we trained together. We promised each other great things for this race. I knew he could achieve something big. Romain was in great shape, he arrived here with big ambitions. He had set a superb time in Budapest and on the climb to the Blockhaus (Sunday), I really think he was the strongest. But life is like that.

Yesterday (Friday), it was really complicated to see him retire, even if we expected it given how ill he was at the start of the stage. He waited for us at the hotel in the evening, then he went home. The staff had very strong words to remobilize the team in the evening. I asked Romain for news this morning, he hasn’t answered me yet, I think he’s resting after his long journey last night. He will be missed here but he will come back even stronger than before, I am sure. »

Mikaël Cherel (his former teammate at AG2R-Citroën) “It touched me when I saw him on the roadside yesterday (Friday) afternoon, vomiting after the start of the stage, with Romain Combaud waiting for him. I immediately understood that it was over. Already the day before, he had confided to me that if things accelerated, it was going to become complicated for him. I had reassured him by telling him that he had forty-eight hours until today (Saturday) to redo the icing. This kind of virus, it upsets the space of one or two days and after everything is better. I was optimistic for him, he has the experience, he is a fighter. But that was too much, even for him.

He will come back, I’m sure, but it was really a golden opportunity for him this year. As they say, what is taken is no longer to be taken. He had made a very good start to the Giro, I felt he was super strong, he was one of the three to four protagonists in the final victory. In addition, thunderstorms are announced in the high mountains in the third week, that would have been in his favor… It’s really too bad. Maybe it will be beneficial for him in view of the Tour this summer. We will have to digest that but I wish him with all my heart to bounce back. He doesn’t deserve this. »

Guillaume Martin (Cofidis, 6th overall) “The day before yesterday (Thursday), I could see that he didn’t have his usual style. Yesterday (Friday), when I saw him stop, I didn’t immediately understand. He seemed in such good shape… It’s unfortunate for him and for French cycling as a whole. It’s unfortunate. The Blockhaus stage, you have probably seen it better than me on television, but I had the impression that it was among the very best, if not the best of the favorites. He was in contention for at least a podium, if not the overall victory. »

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