Romain Bardet has yet to decide if 2024 will be his final season as a professional cyclist. The Frenchman’s contract with DSM-Firmenich PostNL expires at the end of the year, but he has indicated that he will not make any decision on retirement until the summer.
“If I knew for sure, I’d say so. I’m thinking about it and that’s healthy,” Bardet told L’Équipe. “I’m fully committed to the 2024 project and I’m giving myself until the middle of the year to see how I manage the sacrifices, the twenty or so days I’ll have at home between January 1 and the end of May. What do I get in return from it? Do I feel alive?”
The 33-year-old will start his season at the Classic Var on February 16, and he has confirmed that he will ride the Giro d’Italia with a view to completing a full set of Grand Tour stage wins. On his last appearance in 2022, Bardet was forced out by illness while lying fourth overall.
Bardet is also set to line up for his eleventh Tour de France appearance, though he downplayed the idea that he might end up enjoying a grand send-off in the Auvergne similar to the emotional farewell for Thibaut Pinot in the Vosges in 2023.
“I wouldn’t feel as legitimate about it,” Bardet said. “I don’t want an episode two that would be either overdone or underdone, or that we could compare, because our track records and our careers are different.”
Bardet told L’Équipe that he had experienced burn-out in 2019, and he later moved from AG2R to DSM ahead of the 2021 season in search of a reset. Although he has enjoyed success with the team, including a Vuelta a España stage win and overall victory at the Tour of the Alps, he also endured setbacks along the way.
“I’ve been more vulnerable since COVID, I get sick a lot more,” Bardet said. “Is that the body sending me a message? I don’t know.”
Bardet’s best performance of 2023 came at the Tour de Suisse, where he placed fifth overall, but he crashed out of the following month’s Tour de France.
“I was consistent last season, but I felt like I was lacking sparkle. I didn’t need much to turn things around, but that’s ifs and buts…” he said. “I want to be good at what I do.”
Although Bardet stressed that his professional career could continue into 2025, he has been giving thought to what he will do when he hangs up his wheels.
“I’m burning with energy and commitment for my sport, but I’m already looking at ways of putting that energy into something that will have a positive…