It’s been a torrid Tour so far for Romain Bardet, culminating in stage eleven’s heatstroke, resulting in vomiting, ice packs applied to a burning neck and a loss of almost 14 minutes on the day.
Twentieth place on GC, 22 minutes adrift of the yellow jersey, was not where last year’s sixth-placed finisher was expected to be in the Pyrenees.
What a difference a day makes. Torrential downpours turned out to be much more to the young Frenchman’s liking, as he joined the 22-man break and set to work.
Bardet had his baby-faced team-mate Mickaël Chérel, one of three Ag2R men in the break, set the pace on the final climb to Plateau de Beille before striking out with Jakob Fuglsang and Joaquim Rodriguez for company.
Both the Spaniard and the Dane proved to be too strong for the tall 24-year-old Frenchman, but third spot was an encouraging comeback from what had looked like a disastrous performance the preceding day.
Coincidently (cough), our man Andy McGrath has an excellent feature on Monsieur Bardet in issue 56, landing with subscribers in the next few days. Read it, but not whilst eating a banana.
Rouleur's Top Banana is awarded after every 2015 Tour de France stage. It goes to an unsung hero who has caught the eye or deserves recognition for his efforts, rather than necessarily the stage winner or the most attacking rider.